Deer Proofing Your Garden

If you have gardened for long on the mountain and live out in suburbs or the country, then it is likely that you have had to deal with deer and perhaps even elk thinking your precious garden veggies were there to provide their gourmet lunch.  Sad but true, these large critters just love munching on our garden.

Making The Garden Difficult to Get To

So what can we do to deer proof our gardens??   Protecting your raised garden beds seems to be a little easier. One reason is that deer or, for that matter elk, are not as likely to jump a fence if they can’t see a clear space on the other side.  With raised garden beds, you have eliminated the clear space on the inside and hopefully they will go looking elsewhere for lunch.

Another answer is to create a flower bed on the outside of the garden fence so the space they need to jump over is wider.  If this bed is planted with things that they don’t like to eat, then they may tend to leave your garden alone. So, here are some plants they DON’T like. Among these are borage, ice plant, marigolds and zinnias. Some perennials include alliums, aloe, black-eyed susan, bleeding heart, any of the mints, fern, geranium, iris, and herbs like oregano, rosemary and yarrow. Among the trees and shrubs are bamboo, pampas grass, yucca, barberry, butterfly bush, currant and gooseberry, hawthorn (despite its apple-like berry), holly, mountain laurel, palms, oleander, boxwood and viburnum.

Sometimes just putting some dead branches or brush on the outside of the fence will do the trick.  Although elk are big enough that if they persist, they will break through any barrier you create.

I’ve found that adding height to the fence with tall branches and then tying plastic bags or bright colored pieces of tape, like the bright yellow 2” wide “Do Not Cross” tape, is a good deterrent.  We have quite a bit of wind here, so such things are constantly moving in the wind and will make the deer and elk think twice before coming to close.

Creatures of habit

When I first moved to my country subdivision home, my property was the only one on my road that had not been fenced.  So the elk had a pathway through my property to get from the woods on one side of the subdivision to the lake on the other side.  It has been 10 years now, and I think I have finally convinced them that they need to find a different path!! Putting up a fence was the first thing I did. They continued to use the path, after all a 4’ fence was just a little over belly high for them.

So, on the North end of the fence which is on the top of a hill, I added tall branches (10’ to 12’) woven into the fence and tied a lot of plastic bags and bright colored tape to them and it seemed to help. Even though I had to walk that fence practically every morning at first, just to fix the places they broke down.

At the same time, on the outside of the South fence which borders the road, I added some old pieces of black chain link fence about 3’ wide, laying on the ground. So I created a wide space that they would not want to walk on.  I also planted trees on the inside of the fence that were protected with fencing around them, and added more plastic bags and bright tape and a barbed wire topping about a foot above the fence. All this has finally become a deterrent and the break throughs are less often.

Fencing a Raised Garden Bed Area

If you’re in a hurry and not much of a builder, there are raised garden beds with fencing available on line, they are pretty pricey, but well worth the cost if you aren’t getting any veggies from your garden. Or you can build your own. I’ve included several pictures in this article to help you with ideas.  Or just google ‘fenced raised garden beds’ add plans or go to images and get a ton of ideas.  Things to think about:  Be sure your path between your beds is wide enough and turn arounds available if you need to use a garden cart or a wheel chair. Also, make sure that locks are out of reach of children, or in their reach if you want them to have access. Making places to sit on the edge of beds, or having a stool the right height will make life easier while weeding.


Some Things That Might Work

Deer have a strong sense of smell, which they use to find accessible food sources. While there is no scientific evidence that coffee grounds will deter deer, the bitter smell of spent coffee grounds may signal to deer that humans are nearby and keep them away from your property.

Tying plastic bags and bright colored tape to a fence line or a raised bed garden fence can be a big help in our windy part of the country, although they are not pretty, up to you!!

Added brush around the outside of a property fence line that is next to the woods can be quite helpful.

Here are some excerpts from an Elk Damage Flyer, and a link to the flyer.

Apply elk repellent to the trees or the area around the trees. The most effective elk repellents are those with a sulfur smell such as rotten eggs or blood meal. The scent of mountain lion (cougar) and wolf urine also deters elk, since these animals are the elk’s natural predators.

Fencing: The best elk deterrent is a seven-foot fence around your property. Big Game Repellent: Since fencing can be expensive to install, big game repellents may also be useful in reducing damage to your property.

Wrap ornamental plants with plastic netting This will keep elk from browsing on your plants.

Good luck with your garden this year, and may the deer and elk find a way around your property!!


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