While we can certainly appreciate the natural beauty of a deer stepping through a forest or quietly making its way across the prairie, deer and gardens definitely do not mix. Deer are not uncommon in Winnipeg backyards, and although deterring them from eating your plants and trees can be tricky, there are a few tips and products that will help you prevent your yard from becoming a feeding ground for our wildlife neighbours.
The only sure thing
The only sure and permanent way to keep deer out is to construct a fence, but if you’re looking to completely eliminate the chance of a deer jumping the fence, it needs to be not only sturdy but at least seven-and-a-half to eight-feet high. Obviously, this is a big investment and many of us just don’t want to go to those lengths (or should we say heights?!), particularly when a large property is involved. This is where deterrent products come in, which can be very effective when used properly.
Keep deer away by staying one step ahead
Deer are surprisingly undiscriminating when it comes to what they will eat, and they’re also extremely adaptive. Because deer typically don’t travel far distances over their lifetimes, there’s a good chance that those you see in your yard from time to time are repeat visitors. This all means that the key to warding off deer is to vary the types of deterrents you are using, rotating them throughout the season and changing tacts often so that your neighborhood deer do not get used to the products you’re using. We recommend using Bobbex, which deters by taste, and Plantskydd, which deters by smell, intermittently starting in the spring. Another variation to add to the mix is an electronic deterrent like Yard Gard, which is motion-activated to produce ultrasound waves that deter deer and other animals. Whatever products you use, the key is to mix it up and start early in the season – remember that prevention is a lot easier than interrupting an established pattern!
It’s nice to know that in addition to being effective, these products are also completely safe for your family and pets, and don’t harm deer in any way either.
Deer-resistant plants are a guideline, but not a rule
It’s true that deer tend to avoid plants that are sticky, rough, or fuzzy, and plants with spiny protection. They also dislike fragrant leaves or a pungent flavour. However, any list of “deer-resistant” plants should be taken with a grain of salt, because if hungry enough, deer will eat almost any plant. As we’ve already mentioned, they’re also very good at adapting and will overcome their preferences if it means an easy meal, particularly when nothing better is readily available. So, just because a plant wouldn’t be a deer’s first choice, doesn’t mean it won’t end up suffering the fate of their more expected targets.
You can see a list of plants that deer are not attracted to right here. It may help to use these plants on the perimeter of your garden, leaving the plants deer enjoy well within. Keeping wild, grassy areas trimmed and cleaned can also prevent deer from being tempted to bed down.
Protecting your trees
Deer are notorious for eating cedars and evergreens in the winter, when nutrients are scarce, or stripping the leaves off of young trees that you are trying to get established in the summer months. To protect your trees, create a perimeter around them with stakes and securely wrap wire mesh (such as chicken wire) around the stakes. Be sure to create a wide enough perimeter that deer can’t simply eat the foliage right through the mesh.
We know it can be frustrating, but with a little patience and persistence, your yard and garden can co-exist with the deer passing through it. If you need additional tips or resources, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us – we’re always happy to help.
Make a plan, stick with it, and watch your garden flourish!