38 November 25, 2006

Thanksgiving is a time to gather together and feast on all kinds of fine foods. Humans are not the only creatures that gather and feast on food  during the holidays. If you have any wooded areas near your home, deer may make a feast of your shrubs.

The former habitat for many deer has now become the homes for humans. Add in the decrease in hunting of deer and the deer population has become a problem for may people. Many of the shrubs that we plant near our homes are also plants that deer like to eat. It doesn’t take long for a deer or family of deer to eat a shrub done to a nub. If you have spent a lot of money on trees and shrubs, you may find that your investment is a salad bar for deer.

There are ways to minimize the damage caused by deer browsing on your plants. There are deer repellents and deer barriers. Let me tell you about these things you can use to discourage deer.

Deer barriers are a plastic mesh that can be used in several different ways. You can cover each shrub with the netting. As the deer try to eat the plant, the plastic mesh will feel funny in the deer’s mouth. In many cases, this will stop the deer from eating. The plastic mesh can also be used as a fence. You can place stakes around your plants and string the mesh on the stakes. The stakes must be 7 feet tall or taller. Deer can easily jump over a 4 or 5 foot fence. A tall fence will create  a barrier that makes the deer leery of getting caught in or behind the fence.

Deer repellents come in many different varieties. As a rule they all use a smell, taste or tactile quality that deer find offensive. Many repellents use garlic or rotten eggs as the smell deterrent. Hot pepper or latex is sometime used to make the food taste bad or feel bad in the deer’s mouth.

Deer repellents need to be applied early in the season. It is best done early on to break the deer of the habit of visiting your yard. Repellents will need to be re-applied  once or twice during the season. If you don’t do re-applications, the deer will return during the late winter when food in the woods becomes scarce.

Deer have become and will become more of a problem as we encroach on their habitat. If deer are in your area, you had better make plans to protect your plants.

I’ll talk to you again next week.

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