Watching plants grow and develop in your garden is a source of pleasure and satisfaction, but there is nothing more frustrating than discovering that your hard work has been destroyed by an invading critter. Deer are a particular problem. Much has been written about ways to discourage these animals and growing deer proof plants, but experience has shown that there is only one sure way to keep your plants safe. According to Margaret Roach the answer is a fence. In her article which I found on her A Way To Garden website she relates her battles with deer and the solution she has found.

GARDENED WITH THE DEER FOR NEARLY A DECADE, and then I said no more. I?d sprayed, sachet-ed, blood-mealed and Milorganite-d myself into a meltdown; I just couldn?t wrap or pen or hang aluminum pie-plate mobiles or otherwise defend individual plants any longer. After all, the deer would just eat whatever wasn?t ?protected,? being indiscriminate feeders who were happy to move on to the next course as the previous runs out. So I finally fenced.
Fencing is the only real deer-proofing method there is (assuming your fence is the right construction for your location and animal population, and is well-maintained). No other tactic offers complete control, keeping deer out of the garden.
Even ?deerproof? plants had proved deer-resistant at best, and besides, the garden-design limitations such lists impose provide insufferable restriction for someone like me, who can?t resist a hot plant. I?m as much an omnivore as the deer; we just couldn?t cohabitate peacefully.
eaten-hostasThe garden?s backbone?its woody plants?were being disfigured. Forget the occasional hosta stripped of its leaves (above); ugly, yes, but it sent up new growth relatively fast. The deer damage to woody plants I?d invested money and then time in (waiting for them to go from $30 youngsters to a real part of the landscape) was mounting fast. Some viburnums, in particular, had taken multiple hits and were beyond corrective-pruning rehab, as were many hollies?two of my favorite genera of shrubs.
The cost exceeded the actual plant-specific losses, too: All those half-effective potions and gadgets, and the time it took to use them, were pricey.
And finally, one day, I looked out the window and realized this: I garden largely to enjoy viewing the landscape I have created, not to view a bunch of vulnerable specimens each encased in their own private cages, like a military encampment of impromptu tents and tee-pees pitched here and there in a time of battle. It was a sad sight. Enough.

fences that work

FIRST in my exploration, I turned to scientists and agricultural experts (not garden-product marketers), always my preferred first step. To choose a style of fence that will work for your garden locale, you need information about the local deer species, their habits, and their capabilities (read: how high can they jump, and how low will they go).
Managing deer in a suburban environment can vary greatly from doing so in a rural one; hilly terrain and flat land each has its challenges. And so on. A comprehensive book by Neil Soderstrom, ?Deer-Resistant Landscaping? (Amazon affiliate link), walks you through how to analyze your situation on all these fronts; suggests numerous plants that offer resistance, and covers 20 other animal pests and many anti-deer tactics other than fencing. I can speak only from my own experience; the book didn?t exist when I was experimenting here myself.

See more at A Way To Garden

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