Deer

6

For this month's Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshop - Wildlife in the Garden over at Gardening Gone Wild

Click on image for larger view.  See if you can find all 9 in this particular herd.

deer.

There are so many things to write about when it comes to wildlife in the garden -- the pollinators, the crows, the songbirds and the beavers. But the wildlife that has the biggest influence on my gardening is deer.

There are lots in the neighborhood. I'm five miles outside of Ithaca, and I regularly see deer in town. In fact, twice this week walking from the parking lot to my office, I saw deer on the astroturf inside fence surrounding the practice fields on the Cornell campus. (Not the best grazing.) The deer pressure out here is even heavier.

Here's how I deal with them:

  1. Fence the vegetable garden. Plastic mesh about 7 feet high. It's a pain to maintain. I repaired it already this spring which practically guarantees we'll get freezing rain or a heavy wet snow to drag it down again.
  2. Plant 'deer-proof' plants as much as possible. If deer are hungry enough. But poisonous stuff like castor beans and foxglove are way down on their list. I'll buy daffodils, but not tulips. (The rodents like them less, too.) My garden is definitely not child-safe. There are lots of deer-resistant plant lists. They make great guides to get you started. But your mileage may vary. Deer in different areas definitely have different tastes.
  3. 'Hide' plants. I don't buy hostas any more. But I moved some from our old place. Most are against the front of the house in a clautrophobic corner at the back of a bed with a fence on one side and a porch jutting out on the other. The deer haven't touched them in the 10 years we've been here. I have the same hosta against the back of the house in a bed that juts out away from a corner of the house. There's an easy escape route to the wetland. It gets chomped down every year.
  4. Tolerate some damage. I've got dwarf ninebark. Well, it's not genetically a dwarf. But the deer keep in small for me. I'm waiting for the year they decide to skip it and I get some compensatory growth and it starts getting up to its potential. But until then, I'll just enjoy this dwarf form. Most trees and shrubs I plant are real slow to get started. The deer provide a good excuse, rather than my own neglect.

Truth be told, rabbits are as big if not bigger nuisance. But they aren't as easy to shoot -- I mean take pictures of.

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March 30, 2009

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March 20, 2009

Chiot's Run @ 5:22 pm #

The weird thing about the deer around here is that they refuse to eat my hostas. They eat everything else, but no hostas. I guess that’s a good thing since I have so many. I have more troulbe with rabbits as well, they’re a pain for sure.

I must admit every time I eat a venison burger I smile and think about my chewed hydrangeas or roses.

Lisa at Greenbow @ 8:09 pm #

Wow that is a tall fence. I would hate to have to deal with them. It is bad enough to fight rabbits.

March 21, 2009

We get herds like that in our new neighborhood, Craig, which is partly why I haven’t ventured into planting anything in the front yard. Luckily, the 6-foot privacy fence keeps them out of the back yard, although I know they could jump it if they wanted to.

March 27, 2009

Nan Ondra @ 4:49 pm #

Good grief, Craig – when deer start thinking that Astroturf looks good, we’re all doomed (or at least our gardens are). I’m mostly in the tolerance phase myself, and as a result I too have plants with atypical growth habits. On the plus side, though, I’m learning which woodies can tolerate life as cut-back shrubs – without any pruning on my part.

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