Oh Deer! Tips on How to Keep the Deer and Rabbits From Invading Your Gardens
Alright, truth be told, I don’t know everything about miniature gardening BUT that’s only because I can’t live everywhere.
You see, I live in the city so my experience with keeping wildlife out of my garden is quite limited – unless you consider my husband as wildlife which happens from time to time – and yes, he is hard to keep out of the garden. My dog, Kitty, takes care of the squirrels and attempted visits from the neighbor’s cats trying to get to the catnip but, other than that, the only other wildlife we need to be concerned about here in Seattle are slugs and snails.
So, this is where the Miniature Garden Society comes in.
The Miniature Garden Society is a member’s-only website and a place where I can put all the information I’ve collected on the hobby, and also add insight from the other members of the Society that have more experience with a certain issues than I do. And it’s only going to get better as more people from different areas join us. Right now we have fellow miniature gardeners from all over the US and from Canada, India and the UK.
There is a forum in the website too, so you can asked the Collective directly for insight, opinions or any other ideas on that you are working on.
Here is a perfect example from the website, it’s our Deer and Rabbit Tips from the Troubleshooting Page in the Gardening Section. It was created with some of the info I found in my own library, but the plant suggestions came from one of our members, Karen from Virginia, who has direct experience with deer in her garden.
Deer and Rabbits
Some of this research came from Nancy Norris’ book, Miniature Garden Guidebook: for Beautiful Rock Gardens, Container Plantings, Bonsai and Garden Railways, (Kalmbach Books, WI, 2011). Note that this is a book focused on railroad gardening despite the title. The plant suggestions that are in this book are meant to be viewed from afar – not up close like we view our miniature gardens. There are, however, useful tidbits throughout the book, plus insight into how to keep deer out of the garden. A full review of the book will be up in the MiniatureGardenSociety.org soon.)
Nancy’s Suggestions for Repelling Deer:
- Use stinky deer spray. Deer hate smelly stuff. Two eggs, garlic cloves (she doesn’t say how many,) cayenne pepper and castor oil for the spray to stick on the plants. Blend with “some” water and let it stew for 2 days. Strain and spray.
- “Deer don’t like their food associated with dead animals, like eggs and soap.”
- Any noise deterrents, like clicking fountains, they get used to.
- Any random sprinklers only work for a short time.
- Store bought repellents, Plant Pro-Tecs (garlic) or Liquid Fence (NOT a urine spray, as Nancy states, it’s made up of eggs, garlic, kelp and a few other things.)
- If you build a fence, make it high and solid – deer won’t jump over it if they can’t see to the other side.
IMPORTANT: Nancy mentions that you still need to protect newly planted deer-resistant plants because the plants that come fresh from the nursery are often fertilized with inorganic fertilizers that are made from salt. Just like cows love salt blocks, apparently deer love the salts in the soil. After planting, feed the plants compost, organic seaweed solution or bone meal sparingly. (The salt-fertilizers will gradually leach out of the soil, but she doesn’t say how long it will take.)
- Apparently the same rules apply for rabbits.
- Deer stay away from any poisonous plants, prickly plants and strong-scented plants, like herbs.
- Plant red-twig dogwood around the perimeter, deer love them and will fill-up on them, leaving your other plants alone. The dogwood shrub can handle the constant pruning, apparently.
- Hanging CDs, twirly garden art or flags.
- Irish Spring soap shavings – it’s the strong scent again. Replace shavings after a couple of rainfalls. Some hang them in nylon stockings around the perimeter of the garden.
Deer-resistant Plants for Miniature Gardening:
Dwarf Alberta Spruce
Hollies (Ilex crenata unconfirmed)
Ferns – all
(Mondo grass not confirmed)
UPDATE / NEW INFO:
This comes from Fellow MG, Diane: “To keep deer away, spray SKYYD on everything. A good covering spray will last quite a while even in the rain. It works very well but as soon as you lapse and don’t get it sprayed in time, the deer move in. It smells just awful after it’s mixed. Blood, dead something. It now comes in powder form and you mix your own. Beyond awful smelling. But it keeps the deer away, so I’m ok with it!”
See their website here: www.plantskydd.com/
And this is currently Susan’s latest tactic which we still need to see if it works over the winter – Susan is trying to distract them with a yummy lawn-replacement: “We have heavy deer predation here and woodchucks are also quite a problem. I am experimenting by replacing the “lawn” with microclover. My goal is to make mowing go away and to perhaps divert the critters from my perennials. Microclover is supposedly less invasive than Dutch White-I do not want it sneaking off into the woods that surround us. Time will tell, but the tender tasty clover is definitely popular with the deer, woodchucks and even turkeys. I am hesitant to say it is working, lest I jinx it. Now the overwinter test.”
Like this? Then you’ll love our Miniature Garden Society website! Learn more about it here.