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Deer Solutions (7 Replies)

Posted January 5, 2014 at 7:38 pm

This is my first year with Addicted Conifer Syndrome. I have planted numerous plants this year and thought they weathered the deer fairly well. They nibbled at my chamaecyparis obtusa”Fernspray Gold”, Picea pungens ‘Hoopsii’, Cupressus Arizonica “Carolina Sapphire” and chamaecyparis obtuse nana. The damage was annoying but not major. Recently, however, they decimated my cryptomeria japonica spiralis “Granny’s Ringlets” (I thought Cryptomeria were particularly safe), chamaecyparis pisifera “Blue Sawara Cypress” and ate all the lower branches of my two cedrus atlantica “Blue Atlas”. The weather has turned colder and I wonder if this is a sign of things to come. The home is north of Atlanta in the north Georgia mountains. It is a second home and we only go up on weekends, possibly every second or third weekend.

I have spayed the nasty rotten egg stuff but did not treat the plants for the last couple of months.

Fencing is not an option. One of my neighbors has put cages around all of his plants but I am not going to do that. This was been very frustrating. I have ordered the ACS plants of the year and fear they will be nice appetizers for the out of control deer. I know many have also dealt with these large rodents and was wondering what the collective experience of many fellow ACS’ers would suggest. Conifers have caught my attention and I really want to have success with them.

One thing I read is to plant, plant, plant. The deer will take out a few but you will overwhelm them with sheer numbers. This sounds risky to me and expensive short term.

Thanks for any help.

 

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Posted January 5, 2014 at 8:47 pm

Bob, what can I say other than, DEER SUCK!!! Unless you can engineer an 8ft tall perimeter fence, you will endlessly be beset with random browsing and fall-time buck rubbing. There are tricks in the form of yuck spray, Irish Spring soap and shotguns, but none are a reasonable, long-term solution. For what it’s worth, my greater nemesis is the likes of squirrels and rabbits; they wreak absolute havoc with my dwarfs and minis. Just last week, I built a few dozen tiny cages to protect my treasures until spring when the little buggers have more choices on the menu.

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Posted January 7, 2014 at 9:09 pm

Thanks Dave, anyone have a source for C-4 or land mines? I’ll keep at it, caging in winter maybe good when their pickins’ are slim. In this community hunting deer with a gun is illegal and every so many years they have allowed bow hunters. I just don’t want to have to plant butterfly bushes and barberry all over. Can someone develop conifers with spikes?

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Posted January 24, 2014 at 9:19 am

From my perspective, and in my opinion, I don’t try to plant things that are called deer resistant, or not preferred, or whatever language is used. I try very hard to avoid planting those things that I know they love. For me, and I’m at Cornell, in Ithaca, New York (in the middle of the state, in the Finger Lakes region) this means I have basically given up introducing any new Tsuga, Thuja, and Taxus. I have seen at least a little bit of browse (or often a LOT) and buck rub (at all seasons when they are in antler, not just autumn breeding season) on virtually anything. I hate those individual fences around individual plants, but yes, I have quite a few of them.

One key concept in losing plants is this: can you afford – financially and emotionally – to lose something? Not everyone has the same budget. Spending $200 dollars on one plant is a lot for some people; for others, nothing. Replacing a $200 plant every year is easy for some people; impossible for others. Plus, with long-lived woody plants there is a time commitment. Can you stomach it when that plant that has been growing beautifully for years suddenly gets absolutely nailed by a deer? Years of time and patience and growth can be lost in a few minutes. If you cannot take these sort of losses, you might want to consider growing other things. Gardening with long-lived woody plants is a different kind of gardening. I actually often think of what do as horticultural forestry.

All of the known techniques – if you can and/or do employ them or not – are helpful: I mean deer repellents, fences, shooting, &c. They all do help; they all do have their pros and cons that we all know about and often discuss ad nauseum. None of them are flawless or 100% effective, not even fences. What do you do when you do finally invest in that 10′ high impenetrable boundary fence and then — someday, somehow , no, this simply cannot be!– a deer manages to get inside and is now effectively trapped on the INSIDE.

The real issue — in my opinion — is one that I think many people simply will not want to acknowledge or deal with, and that is that our overpopulation of deer is a very good example of an environmental system that is now unbalanced. We have decimated the predator populations in the United States. We are afraid of them because they might possibly hurt us. We don’t like that; we fear that. When we want to eliminate the predators, then are unhappy with the overpopulation of the predated, really we are simply sitting in the mess we have created. So, what do we do? I say — and again, I am sure many people will not like this idea — we need to overcome our fear of injury or death by predator, work with environmental or wildlife programs sponsoring predator research/reintroduction programs, and then see what happens. If growing long-lived woody plants is indeed a long term proposition, then those of us who grow them might do well to look deeper into long-term solutions, and more deeply into the real roots of the issue.

And yes, I mean by this I’d be thrilled to have more coyotes, wolves, and even puma roaming around here.

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Posted March 4, 2014 at 11:34 am

One of my favorite deer prevention stories was shared by one of our Eastern Region members and published here.

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Posted March 4, 2014 at 9:14 pm

That’s great. I’ll be putting out the honey pots and pic-a-nick baskets tomorrow.

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Posted May 28, 2014 at 12:55 pm

I have a couple acres of what sometimes is called “HOME” to deer FAMILY populations. I have tried many things that work to deter deer, groundhogs…, but are improbable to protect everything in my garden especially as I yearly add new plants. That is until I learned of a new product on the market 2 years ago that might seem expensive to some, but I believe is a great investment to protect my whole garden yearly and IT WORKS!! It is called Repellex Systemic Tablets and is sold in quantities of 50 tablets (approx $19.95) up to 500 tablets (I found on zipzab.com for approx $86.39/10% discount/Free Ship) per bottle. The chemical ingredient is the main source of the pungency in chili hot peppers and called capsaicin. In the early spring (I have even done it in winter if I notice deer) Plant 1-2 tablet/pills (depending on size of plant) in the ground at the base of each plant needing protection. I use a dibble stick to poke a hole, drop in a pill, and cover it up. Systematically it is absorbed up into the plant within a week/one month and makes it taste bad. Works a whole season and is not affected by rains. The first year I used it on all my arborvitae, but one within a grouping. (See Above Picture) That one was eaten and the others not touched. I used it on my hostas and containers last year to stop deer, groundhogs and chipmunks and they were beautiful!! This might be too expensive for some, but I have only used one bottle of 50 for the past two years and I just reordered the 500 bottle because I am so sold on it. Just thought I would contribute.
UPDATE: I used it two weeks ago on 3 Heuchera’s I bought last fall and 15 variegated Astrantia plants that a ground hog living under my shed ate & leveled. All are growing back without being lunch.
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Posted January 10, 2015 at 9:41 am

I have had luck with plantskyyd, although I threw up from getting to close LOL, I also plant near other less desired tree’s to use them as a decoy, which works sometimes, also I use the vacuumed dog hair around certain tree’s to try and scare the deer away……..that kind of works, also have used my cross-bow 🙂

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