Not Tonight, Deer

How to send these stealthy stalkers packing when they come to gobble your garden.

The average person finds deer lovable. You, however, are not average. You are a gardener and one thing you hate is turning out the lights on your beauteous garden at bedtime and waking the next morning to find it chomped to the ground. By deer. By sneaky, loathsome, insufferable deer.

You can fight back. One way is to surround your property with a 10-feet fence topped with razor wire. The downside to this is that your house will likely be confused with a correctional facility, causing some awkward moments. For cheaper, safer, and more aesthetic alternatives, I polled you, my faithful readers. And you know what? You guys got the goods.

Deer in Garden
Robert Muckley/Getty Images

Many of you employ deer repellents that make plants smell and/or taste bad to deer. Jay Sifford uses Deer Out to save his beloved hostas from nasty beasts that roam his Charlotte neighborhood at night. "It's peppermint oil based, so it doesn't smell too bad and, because of the oil content, it doesn't wash off in rain," says.One application last two to three months.

Paula Murphy is one of many who recommend Liquid Fence Deer & Rabbit Repellent. It employs a combination of rotten eggs, garlic, and thyme oil. (It has no smell after it dries.) "I apply it at the beginning of the season, so deer don't develop a habit of grazing at our buffet," she says. "Then I'll just reapply a few times throughout the growing season. I never have a problem with deer. Our neighbors' yards that don't use Liquid Fence get eaten to bits."

Carolyn Choi swears by Plantskydd, a product made from dried blood that repels deer, rabbits, and voles. "We have a huge problem with deer here in Chapel Hill. My favorite tried-and-true repellent lasts for 3 to 4 months during the growing season," she comments.

Kimberly Hester Waters touts Bobbex Deer Repellent. Its ingredients include rotten eggs, cloves, garlic oil, fish oil, and wintergreen oil. "This spray was recommended by a local nursery. I use it every spring and then again about six weeks later," she explains. "It works great and comes in a ready to use spray." As with Liquid Fence, the initial odor fades after it dries.

If sprays aren't your thing, John O'Shea asks you to check out Deer Cop. Ever see those squiggly, brightly colored noodles businesses put up to attract attention? That's the idea behind this product. As soon as its motion detector senses a nearby deer, this 7-foot tall, illuminated, bright yellow or orange noodle with a scary face rises up and flails about. Startled deer run for their lives.

If none of these solutions appeal to you, may I make a suggestion? Move to a rooftop apartment. Deer don't know how to use elevators.

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