No doubt there are many with the same deer problems that I’ve experienced, and probably much worse. Just a few years ago my philosophy was to let the deer have theirs, I still have plenty of garden even with them nibbling a bit. But that has changed.
When my wife starts talking about shotguns, I fear for my own safety, so it’s time for action. Last year I made a half-hearted effort to spray a deer repellent. The initial results were good, but I didn’t follow up, and after a couple months deer had eaten dozens of hostas to the ground. Over the Winter they ate a number of evergreens that hadn’t been touched previously.
This year will be different. I have a small pump sprayer, two large containers of different type deer repellents, and the wife has marked spraying dates on her calendar at the start of every month. Early May was the first spray, early June the second, and despite twenty inches of rain there’s been no damage. The third spray will be next week with the brand used in May so they don’t get accustomed to just one.
I’ve read several recent magazine articles about deer damage in gardens, and the authors seem to push ten foot fences (or worse, electric fences) and crazy looking motion detector sprinklers, and hardly mention spraying repellents. They say that they’re effective, but must be sprayed repeatedly and will be washed off with rain. I’m as lazy as anyone, but spraying once a month is not too much work. Put it on the calendar, and have the wife bother you until it’s done.
Now into early Summer, plants that had suffered injury from deer in the past have returned to good health, though some still lack full size leaves. Next year most will be fully recovered.
I’m nearly convinced, but I’ll continue to report my experience. I’m quite confident that the repellent sprays will not wash off within thirty days, despite a series of heavy rains.
I know that deer are still in the neighborhood, I see them scampering away at dawn as I leave for work. They nipped new shoots on a few hostas in April, before I started spraying. But since, nothing, no evidence of a problem. I still see fresh tracks in muddy areas in the garden, but not a trace of injury to the hostas, liriopes, and daylilies that they covet.
Talk of shotguns has ended.