Ask a Question forum: Help from Deer eating garden

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Dec 11, 2016 4:23 PM CST
Hi All

My parents have a vegetable garden that i have known and worked with them all my life. This year the deer have just destroyed it by eating all the tender vegetation. Nothing was produced this year. She was heartbroken. What can we do to protect the garden against them? We have a high fence, used hair, urine, ammonia,to deter them nothing has helped.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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Dec 11, 2016 4:29 PM CST
Welcome! Sorry about the deer problems. We have a fence around our vegetable garden to keep them, and groundhogs out. But how is it that they are breaching your parents' fence? What kind of fence is it and how high?
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
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Dec 11, 2016 4:40 PM CST
Try planting prickly or stinky plants outside the fence, and also some large plants like maybe tomatoes near the fence on the inside. The deer don't like to jump over a fence if they can't see where they're going to land. You should also persist with the various scent deterrents because lots of people have found that they work well. Just small pieces of something like soap, hung around the garden, maybe 10ft. or so away from the fence will give the illusion that people are there.

If you are in one of the drought stricken areas, putting out water, somewhere away from the vegetable garden will also help. They are irresistibly attracted to an area that is being irrigated, when the whole world is dry as a bone. I even spoke to a lady who felt so sorry for the deer that she watered an area of wild grasses away from her garden so that they would have something to eat.

But the best, A1 fantastic deer deterrent is a "Scarecrow" Motion Detector sprinkler. Look them up, they're available on Amazon. Excellent, don't use too much water, and even work at night as well as in daylight. If you can place it strategically, the water it uses will fall on your garden and not be wasted, too. The limiting factor is foliage movement can cause the motion detector to activate especially on windy days/nights.

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Rick Moses
Derwood, MD (Zone 7b)
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Dec 11, 2016 4:42 PM CST
Please fill out a bit more of your profile so that we know where you are located. This will help get answers more appropriate to your growing zone. Click on the little 'person' icon in the upper right and select 'Your Profile'. Then, click on 'Your Public Profile' and fill in as much as you feel comfortable providing.
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You don't say how high the fence is or how large the garden is. Deer are able to leap quite high. If they don't see any obstacles in the 'landing zone', they're going to go for it. A couple of things you can do:
- Make the top of the fence unattractive to get over. Things like sticks or branches that obscure a clean line of site.
- Add things to the garden that disguise the landing area so that it looks small and/or cramped.
- Place nylon netting over the crops. I'm talking about the stuff you get at craft/fabric stores. The netting lets in plenty of air and water, but if the deer do get in, they will chomp down on the nylon. It won't take much of that to discourage them. (This is how I now protect my hosta!) Also, if you use darker colors of netting, it 'disappears' into the landscape.
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Best of luck!

Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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Dec 12, 2016 7:56 AM CST
At my house, a 6 ft fence is enough... Of course, I have it in the tree line where it's disguised by the brush. Really can't keep them from jumping a tidy fence line.

Some places have large herds where the neighbors feed them grain, and nobody hunts.

Amazing what they will eat, and what some of them will jump once the herd gets large enough....

I once had deer to jump uphill over fencing that they couldn't see through, that was absurdly high with an absurdly small area that they could jump through into a very small yard.... But understand, I used to see them standing around 30 and more in a group!

Not sure it's possible to fence them out once the herd gets large enough.

Not surprised that the deterrents aren't effective, those only work when they are being aggressively hunted.

You might try a second fence.... Supposedly, having an outer fence 4 or 5 feet away from the inner fence will defeat them.... Kinda sux, though.

Probably would work even better if the fencing was invisible to them....

When I put up those tree line fences, you can't see them... And neither can the deer. They might have a collision with the fence, when you first put it up.... But they avoid it after... If they can't see it, it scares them.
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
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Dec 12, 2016 9:49 AM CST
They hate the smell of Irish Spring soap. Break up a bar and place small bits in cloth bags hanging from the outer fence line. This is the only thing I've tried that actually has worked. It lasts long enough to get through a veggie garden season.
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Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Dec 12, 2016 11:00 AM CST
I agree with all of the above. My own deer fence is held up by wishful thinking. In other words, it looks like it will fall over with a slight shove ... Smiling However, the deer cannot see a place to land, so they haven't really tried to get into the garden.

That said, I had a break in my fence up on top of the slope a few years ago and a doe did get into the garden and feasted well.

One of the things I learned from that experience, is that once a deer thinks it has found food, it does not give up. It took four attempts to finally get her completely fenced out.

In one attempt, she ate the vinca covering an almost vertical rock wall / slope and jumped a 4' fence at the top. For the second attempt, she ate her way through a dense thicket and crawled under the fence through a small gap at the base of my fence. The third breach was when she climbed my wood pile and squeezed through a small gap at the top that was covered by blackberries. The final attempt was when she jumped a gap in the neighbors fence and then crawled under another small gap in my fence that was only a few feet away.

Once I finally got her blocked out, she ate every deer resistant plant I had out in front of the house before she moved on to another garden.

Whatever you decide to do, you need to vigilant and consistent. Once a deer decides your garden is a source of food, it doesn't quit until it no longer has access.
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.

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