The Q&A Archives: Keeping Deer Out

Question: We have 200 acres back in a hollow where the deer are destroying all the planting that we do. Screening is not what we wish to look at and scents have done little to help. Would planting some type of ground cover, shrub or berry bush back deep on the property help ward off the attack on our plantings around the home? If so what type or types would be best for all year use in the back of our property? Ground water near the creek is abundant however up on the slopes summer can be very dry.

Answer: How disappointing and frustrating! Unfortunately, that hollow sounds like the perfect spot for deer to shelter in the winter. Deer are creatures of habit and once they have adopted a "deer trail" will follow that route until physically prevented from doing so. To make matters more difficult, hungry deer seem to learn to eat just about everything including thorny bushes and prickly junipers so there is no "magic bullet" to offer you. Although some gardeners report some success with both home-remedies and commercial repellants, they must be applied and reapplied appropriately. In my experience (I live in rural deer country) the only sure remedy for deer damage is a fence. The black mesh screening is virtually invisible against a wooded background, as is a fence of individual strands of wire. Good luck with your plantings!

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