Monday, June 26, 2006
Most gardeners love to have visitors browse through their garden. It's nice to be appreciated for the thought and work put into creating a beautiful environment around your house. It's nice that is, unless your visitors express appreciation by nibbling on tree buds, chewing on bark, leaves and flowers, and leaving deep hoof marks in your soft soil.
While most of us with deer populations visiting our gardens try to plant so-called deer resistant trees, shrubs and perennials, the fact is that if the deer and elk are hungry enough, they'll eat anything. They are known to eat over 700 species of plants, preferring the new growth.
Frustrated gardeners have tried many different remedies through the years to keep deer and elk away from their trees and plants. Solutions such as hanging bars of perfumed soap, human hair or smelly clothing from trees have limited success and need frequent replacement. Some products such as Ani-spray® and Ro-pel® have failed in testing done on Colorado deer and elk in 1989 -- 1992.
Commercial repellents such as Deer-Away®, coyote urine, and a 1:4 solution of ripe chicken eggs and water sprayed on the plants have been tested on Colorado deer and elk with high effectiveness. A home-made solution of Tabasco® sauce diluted in water and sprayed on some groundcover and tree leaves also works well for a while as does the hot pepper repellent recipe listed below. The percentage of hot pepper in the solution must very high to be effective (1 percent -- 6 percent dilution).
Hot Pepper Repellent Recipe
1-2 Jalapeno Peppers
1 Tb Cayenne Pepper
Boil in 2 quarts of water for 20 minutes, strain and put in sprayer.
A fence is probably the best solution for repelling wildlife from your garden, but it must be at least eight feet high to keep deer from jumping over it. Some gardeners have had wonderful success keeping deer and elk out with single-strand to five-wire electric fences, often powered by a solar battery. The trick, they say, is to bait the fence at first with peanut butter so animals learn that getting near the fence gives them a nasty jolt. After a while, no more bait is needed.
For areas outside your garden that are not practical to fence in, consider wrapping tree trunks with netting or tubing, available at Colorado State Forest Service offices.
Be wary of solutions that include trapping, poisoning and shooting. It's illegal unless official permission is received from authorities. Check with the Department of Wildlife for specific regulations about deer and elk management. For more information and a list of deer resistant plants and repellents, visit: www.coopext.colostate.edu/wildlife/deer.htm CSU Fact sheet 6.520 contains a wealth of information on this topic.
Deb Babcock is a Master Gardener through the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension office in Routt County. Products mentioned in this article are not endorsed by Master Gardeners or the CSU Cooperative Extension. They are mentioned for informational purposes only. Questions? Call 879-0825 or email: email@example.com