Keeping deer out of the garden

Are deer using your garden as a salad bar? Many of us in Saskatchewan have these furry, and mostly unwelcome, visitors in our yards. There is no way to completely deer proof your garden, but you may have some success with these tips.

Some gardeners swear by folk remedies and home-made concoctions such as rotten eggs or dog fur to deter deer; none of these have been proven effective. There are some simple strategies you can employ however.

Landscaping solutions:

  • Make your most precious plants less attractive by planting them nearest to the house; deer may be wary of coming too close. Planting a border of deer resistant plants may further discourage them. Alternate these amongst the plants you are trying to protect or along the property line if your yard is not fenced.
  • Use a commercially available deer deterrent – these are usually made with animal scents and can be quite unappealing to humans as well.
  • Protect your new trees & shrubs with enclosures of chicken wire while they get established. Ensure that it is both tall enough the deer can’t reach over and enough distance from the centre stem that they cannot reach in from the side.
  • Some gardeners find automatic sprinklers help and these are often used in agricultural applications. Some deer will become used to the shower however.
  • The best deterrent is a tall fence around the perimeter of your vegetable garden or orchard area. Deer will still have access to other plants in the garden but may move along (to the neighbour) if they find it too difficult to snack in your garden.

Deer Resistant Plants:

If deer are hungry enough they will try anything in your garden. There are some plants that have been shown to be less appealing. Deer don’t like plants with fuzzy leaves or spiky stems so look for plants with a lot of texture. Look for these in your garden centre:

  • Ageratum
  • Alyssum
  • Astilbe
  • Agastache
  • Artemisia
  • Calendula
  • Dahlia
  • Dianthus
  • Echinacea
  • Euphorbia
  • Gaillardia
  • Lavender
  • Lobelia
  • Lysimachia
  • Marigold
  • Morning Glory
  • Nasturtium
  • Ostrich Fern
  • Peony
  • Poppy
  • Portulaca
  • Salvia
  • Statice
  • Verbena
  • Veronica

We hope these tips are helpful when planning your garden. It may not be possible to completely (and humanely) deter deer from your property so accepting them and discouraging them a little might be your best plan. Just remember we are in their backyard too.

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