How I Saved my Garden - Best Deer Deterrent Ever!
How Ya Like Me Now?
My backyard has had guests for the past year. These visitors are an extremely friendly and large family of white-tailed deer. Although they're adorable and charming, they're totally lacking in the ability to pick up on social cues. You see, through bold and blatant antics I have attempted to convey to them that they have overextended their welcome, yet still they remain.
Let me tell you the story of how I got my annoying guests to behave.
Here's How It All Began - The Baby Picture
When this little guy was only a day or so old, his mom plunked him down in my backyard and wandered off. Now at first I was alarmed and worried for the baby.. What kind of a mom would do that? After a Google search I learned I was wrong to so quickly judge this mom's intentions; she was, after all being a good mom, a very good mom in fact.
Baby's First Steps - The green stuff is hard to walk on.
I learned that after birth, the doe will go off in search of much needed water and food, leaving her newborn in a safe spot. Since he's unable to flee from danger, he will instinctually go into "freeze mode". The newborn has no scent for predators to detect so as long as the mom is away and he remains still, he is virtually invisible.
The Guests who Just Won't Leave! - The Large Extended Family
This is when all the trouble started. Mom Doe and her twin babies liked the neighborhood hospitality so much they invited the rest of the family to stay. And by stay, I mean just that. They've made this grassy knoll in my back yard their living room. Here's a photo of the entire Doe Gang, two Mom Does and matching twin sets. They're enjoying one of their favorite pastimes - napping after a vigorous session of tree trimming and petal sucking.
Did You Know?
Another term for Herd of Deer is Mob? Mob aptly describes my crew of daily visitors. They're like a mob of hungry teenagers pillaging and plundering the fridge. A neighbor has contributed to their delinquent behavior: she feeds them regularly. This has turned them into sad doe-eyed beggars at my doorstep.
NEVER, ever feed wild animals. It's not good for them, nor you! Regularly feeding these deer has changed their eating habits, diet and has made them completely unafraid of humans. Bad! Very Bad
Rude Behavior - Once a nice garden. Now overrun with hooligans.
More Rude Behavior - Plants sprayed with smelly potions are yanked out in disgust.
Sneakin' in for Snack Time
Uhhh,,, just smellin' that's all......
Ways to Get your Yard Guests Packin'
Over the years I've had many deer visitors, and usually I am able to persuade them to move on to other yards. This family, however, just was not picking up on my hints. They seemed to be digging in, their quick easy free meals of deer corn provided by my neighbor was just too tempting. My garden provided the perfect assorted desserts for after dinner.
May I say it again? Don't feed wild animals.
Now was time to come up with a plan of assault. A plan to keep deer out of my garden and stay out.
Let's Start Some Serious Deer Scrammin' - Inexpensive Ways to Keep Deer Out of your Garden
High-Tail your White Tails Outta Here - Plan of Action - Deer Repellents- Home Remedies
I began my assault with low tech and inexpensive common home remedies to keep deer out of gardens. Here's the list of what I tried and how they worked. These may work for your neighborhood deer and I do suggest you try some of them first before investing much money. Using several concoctions seems to be most beneficial; rotate them often to confuse and confound.
- Irish Spring Smells really nice, but some creature must think so too because many of my bars were stripped down. I later found several far from their original spot. The bars were all clawed and gnawed. Who would do that? Racoons in cahoots with the deer?
MAYBE - May work if you don't have smart, thieving creatures present.
- Fabric Softener Sheets I read that if you strategically place these sheets in your garden, pests will avoid due to the smell. Well, my garden smells fresh washed, but the deer didn't seem to mind.
- Chili Powder I sprinkled this around the plants and even on the leaves of my tomato plants (what little was left after they were ruthlessly plowed down). I think this did work to some degree. My plants are still intact. Not yet sure if this will give me nice spicy tomatoes though.
- Hot Pepper Plants, Mint, Marigolds Deer don't like to eat smelly plants and mint is one of their least favorites. I read that planting mint around a garden might keep them away. I also planted loads of cute hot pepper plants around my perimeter The peppers are now turning red out and look great. So far this border defense along with the chili pepper seems to be working for this garden.
- Red Hot Chili Pepper Spray Mix up some frighteningly hot peppers, some soap and glue to make it stick and dilute it with water. Spray this on and the deer may decide it's too spicy for their tastes. This does work, but does not linger on the plant as long as the store-bought sprays.
Warning! Pay attention to which way the sprayer is pointed before pulling the trigger! Uh-oh.
**Recipe is found in Homemade Deer Repellent Recipes section below.**
WORKS to a degree
- Rotten Egg Spray Eggs contain sulfur and when they decompose, they release a putrid gas called hydrogen sulfide. Just whip up this easy spray and let it marinate in the sun for a while to speed up the gassy smell. Discerning deer guest hopefully will turn up their noses at this.
You need to apply often! Smells worse than a bad case of morning breath.
**Recipe is found in Homemade Deer Repellent Recipes section below**
- Human Hair The theory is if your deer are afraid of humans, just the scent from the hair will keep them away. I think it could be just the frightening sight. ...Ick!.... Hair Mulch! The thought of that makes me gag, and that's the idea: unsavory plants. Sadly, this didn't seem to bother my deer, they still munched out.
- Dried Blood Meal This is a beef by-product and comes in powdered form. The scent of the dried blood meal sends a danger sign to the deer and tells them to scram right away. Adding blood meal to your soil can help improve the soil, but it can also cause damage to your plants because it contains high nitrogen levels so do take care when using this. Also, this may attract carrion-eating birds; before you know it you'll have flocks of cantankerous crows hanging out in your yard. Finally, many expert gardeners say this is not an effective deer repellent.
Yes, I can validate the crow statement. I will never use this again.
Deer Repellent Sprays & Gadgets
- Deer Off, Liquid Fence This is a spray made of all the most vile smelling items imaginable. Seems deer are very picky with their noses. These both do seem to frustrate my deer. They have tasted the treated plants, but then usually leave the rest alone In order to ward the mob off I end up bathing them in the smelly solution, which covers the plants in unsightly blotches of white when dried. It's good to rotate these sprays to keep them guessing. Spray every few weeks and after a rain. Stinks!
- Sweeney's 5600-6 Deer Repellent, 6 Bait Stations These bait stations are called all season weatherproof deer repellents. They have a "patented design triggers the flight response in deer. -odorless to humans" Funny thing about these stations - Every night something would take the little bait disk off the metal stake and leave it a few feet away. Lately I looked and them and not only are the bait stations missing, but the metal stakes are bent. Don't notice them working.
- Solar NG-001 Predator Control Light by Nite GuardThis is a really simple device.It flashes a red light strobe that frightens the animals. It's waterproof and solar powered. I hung this near my tomato plants and along with the chili powder I have not had any nibbles. (Others have commented that many people have mistaken their strobe light for an advanced security system so it could also serve as an inexpensive theft deterrent.)
- Scarecrow Water Spraying Animal Repeller by Contech Finally! Something that works reliably. This motion sensor water sprinkler works great night and day. It can be tuned to squirt a narrow area or 360 degrees. It's fun to watch, too! Do be careful though. You most definitely will get hit with a jet of water when you're first setting it up.
Why I like it:
- No need for smelly sprays
- Fun to watch
- Doesn't harm the animal
- Uses little water. Shoots a pulse of water for 3 seconds, repeats after 8 seconds if target is still in area.
- Can be connected to other ScareCrows to cover more area
- Can detect an animal as much as 30ft away
- Can be used to ward off cats, dogs, bunnies, kangaroos, and even door-to-door salesmen
- 2 year limited warranty
With this connector you can easily use another hose for watering your garden without disconnecting your ScareCrow.
Helpful ScareCrow Tips
- The scarecrow can be set to detect large or small animals, and different distances. It takes a few tries to successfully adjust the sensor eye, and be prepared to get sprayed while trying.
- Set your scarecrow in position. Before turning water on, walk across area you plan to protect. If you can hear the trigger click, you have successfully aligned your scarecrow.
- If the water in your area is hard, you may find a mineral residue forming on your scarecrow. Hard water deposits on mine developed a thin crust of white on the entire unit. You can easily clean this off the sensor eye to ensure correct performance.
- You may want to anchor your scarecrow with a stake. The mechanism violently shakes when spraying, causing it to shift position if not secured properly.
- The unit comes with an attachable scarecrow decal. I chose not to use mine because I liked the look of it better plain, (Also, the directions mention that the decal can frighten small birds.)
- The scarecrow is on a plastic stake - I found it best to make a pilot hole with a metal stake, then drive the plastic stake into the hole to keep the plastic intact.
- After time, the scarecrow can leak. Always check your unit for leaks. If it is leaking, often a quick tightening of the hoses or cleaning can stop it.
- Use a good quality hose and check for leaks before hooking it up to the ScareCrow.
- Windy conditions can result in a false activation. Your battery can run down quicker with constant false activations, so do check battery often. You can do this easily by turning water off and walking by the activation path. You should hear the clicking of the device if the battery is still operational. My battery lasts about 2 months.
Another Great Deer Deterrent Gadget - Nite Guard Predator Control Light
Predator Control Light by Nite Guard
This really does seem to work! It's so easy, too. It's solar powered, so I never have to mess with it. It emits a red laser-like flash which scares away deer and also racoons. Recommend you move this to different locations from time to time just to add to the confusion.
Added bonus: It can be an inexpensive home security device. I've read that it even scares pizza delivery and UPS guys because they assume it's a Mission-Impossible-type high tech laser security beam trap!
High-Tail your White Tails Outta Here! - Best Defenses Against the Mob
Below are all the products I have used and found helpful. There are many remedies out there, and I've tried most of them. I've only listed the few I found truly efficient.
This does seem to be working. My tomato plants have not had a nibble since I hung it nearby. Really simple and efficient.
I use this along with Liquid Fence. I rotate the two every month. Doesn't always work, but does seem to frustrate them.
So far, this seems to help, too.
Update! Oct 10, 2012 - How to Fix a Leaking ScareCrow
After 3 months of continuous use I noticed the ScareCrow was leaking at the sprinkler head. Since the water pressure is always on, this was not a good development. I checked in the ScareCrow user's manual and it mentions to disassemble the unit and back wash the sensor head to remove any debris if the sprinkler head leaks. Above is a photo of the unit disassembled and the sensor head unit. Because our water is exceptionally hard, mineral deposits had collected on the filter screen. (Notice the white build-up on the outside of the unit? That's due to the hard water). A quick wash with a hose cleaned it out. After reassembling the unit the leak was gone. Yeah! It still works!
Deer Repellent Recipes - Homemade How Tos
Stop deer from eating your garden with these simple home remedies recommended by the experts. Some of them may work for you, some may not. You'll have to try them out to see what your neighborhood deer think.
- Irish Spring Soap Hang unwrapped bars of this strongly scented soap in plastic mesh bags produce is sold in. Some deer are offended by the robust perfume, some see it as a refreshing change.
- Human Hair Next time you are at the salon bring a plastic bag with you and request hair samples. They will be happy to oblige. Sprinkle the hair around the plants you wish to protect. If just the thought of that makes you gag, try putting hair in cheesecloth bundles and hanging.
- Chili & Cayenne Pepper Sprinkle these pungent spices around your plant perimeter. The strong odor should/could convince them not to sample the merchandise.
- Red Hot Chili Pepper Spray Recipe This recipe courtesy of North Dakota State University horticulturist Ron Smith -and he knows what he's talking about.
( My tips -handle peppers very carefully - dangerous oils inside. Start blender at low speed first, do not let juices splash on you.)
In a blender mix peppers in enough water to liquify. Strain liquid by pouring through coffee filter or cheesecloth into a jar with lid. (Don't skip this step or your ingredients will clog up in your sprayer) Add olive oil (or vegetable oil), Elmer's Glue, dish washing detergent.(helps the spray stick to your plants).
Add this 1:10 concentrated spray to a spray bottle and add water - one part concentration to 10 parts water.
-4 habanera pepper
-about 1/4 cup water
-2 tbs olive oil
-2 squirts Elmer's Glue
-2 squirts dish detergent
- Rotten Egg Spray Recipe In a blender mix eggs and garlic. Add water and blend. Remove to a container with a lid and let sit outside for several days in the sun. Strain mixture with cheesecloth or coffee filter into a spray bottle and enjoy. (Don't skip the straining part or your mixture will clog in the sprayer)
6 -8 eggs
6 gloves garlic (add more if you like)
5 cups water
2 squirts Elmer's Glue
2 squirts dish detergent (to help it stick on plants)
Links you might enjoy - All about Deer Feeding and Ridding
- Backyard Deer Deterrents
This blog is chock-full of great suggestions and tips for ridding your garden of pesky deer. Great practical insights.
- North Dakota State University Extension Service
NDSU horticulturalist Ron Smith answers deer questions
- Fawn Rescue.org
What to do if you find an abandoned fawn
- New Hampshire Fish and Game
Why feeding deer can harm their health
- Lewis Gardens
List of plants deer don't like (usually)
Wow, did you really make it all the way down to the very bottom of this lens? Thank you so much for stopping by and nice to meet you.