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Oh, deer….

Picture it, 2020, Cincinnati, (not Sicily 😉 ) you’re in your garden…it survived the post Mother’s Day frost, it’s surviving  COVID-19, and therefore, it’s *probably*surviving you obsessively checking each sprout, bud, new leaf or growth every day, multiple times a day.

You get excited thinking about all of the salsa and marinara sauce you’ll be making with your tomatoes, the salads you’ll be eating from all the different kinds of lettuce you grew, the cut flowers you’re going to be bringing in to your house every week for your kitchen or dining room table. Everything looks healthy and green and you’re about to need physical therapy from reaching around to constantly pat yourself on the back.

Then one morning, you go out to check and your heart drops. You see what you thought you had escaped this year. A deer has eaten your vegetable garden, taken giant bites out of your hosta plant, ravaged your rhododendron, decimated your daylilies. You’re out of impatiens, and you have no more patience. Now, along with your garden, your spirits are crushed.

We live in a severely overpopulated area as far as deer are concerned. They’re everywhere you look in a lot of neighborhoods. In some areas, they just walk down residential streets like they’re headed to a pool party, with little to no fear of people.

While you can’t undo the damage a deer can cause when making a buffet out of your garden, there are some different steps you can take to help mitigate future attacks.

We’ll start with the most obvious (and most expensive)- build a fence. A 6 foot tall fence (maximum height allowed for most residences) can stop a lot of deer. Now, this may not be practical or affordable in all cases, or in front yards, or if you have a larger property.

In lieu of a permanent privacy fence, you can use a temporary type of fencing around your herb & vegetable gardens, with flexible wiring & poles which can be moved or removed in the winter if you choose.

One of our favorite and most creative tips is from fan, customer, reader and deer repellent extraordinaire, Lisa T: fishing line around posts to keep it taut, and attached to trees or bushes where possible.

“It’s worked for us for two years now with no incidents. The deer are still around but avoid the areas with the lines in place.”

 

Other tips & tricks include using a deer repellent– we like Deer Scram, Liquid Fence & Deer Off. The most important part of using any liquid or granular product like these is to be vigilant with your application, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions- for example, reapplying after rain.

Some people, who have chosen to remain anonymous, have said having a male in their household empty their bladder around the area in danger will keep the deer away because of the scent. If you don’t want to test that out, then another scent some deer find offensive is to use Irish Spring Soap shavings or gratings around the bed.

If you have raised garden beds that you don’t have a fence around, then you could try some bird netting over the beds, allowing plants to grow through the netting. You could also throw a couple of marigolds around the edges of your beds, as a hail Mary- deer don’t like them, and it may be enough deterrent to keep them from moving forward in your garden.

Even though there is no guaranteed, fool proof plant that deer will not eat in desperate times, there is a long list of beautiful plants that generally are true to their classification of deer resistant.  With some of these plants, you have a chance they’ll just keep moving on by. There’s also some plants which are toxic to deer, but still beautiful to look at like daffodils, foxgloves and poppies.

BURGER STAFF PICKS:

If you’ve been following along with our Instagram and Facebook posts this week, you’ve been able to see some of our favorites:

Our nursery manager Josh likes Butterfly Bush Black Knight, Mariesii double file Viburnum (pictured above) in the shrub department. Josh says, “The black knight butterfly bush will give great color all summer long with its large, deep dark purple blooms and with the added bonus of attracting butterflies to the garden. We carry them at $36.99 for 3gal.
The Mariesii double file viburnum is a great large blooming shrub in the spring with bright, white, clean flowers that cover the plant.
Also has great fall foliage. Excellent for naturalizing a wood line or large hedge. We’ve got some ready to plant at $69.99 for 5gal.

Our Admiral of Annuals Greg votes for Lantana & State Fair Zinnias– “Lantana (below) comes in several different colors, will grow from 12” to 30” depending on varieties and conditions and as an extra perk, both hummingbirds and butterflies love them! They’re also extremely drought tolerant once established. They’re offered in a 4″ pot for $5.99.

Zinnias are also a great deer resistant annual flower that comes in a variety of colors. They will grow anywhere from 10” to 36” depending on the variety and they also make great cut flowers that you can enjoy indoors as well. One of our favorite varieties is State Fair Mix Zinnias which will grow to 36″ or even taller and has an assorted color of blooms that can get as large as 5″. Zinnias are also loved by butterflies. We sell these in 4″ for $5.99, cell packs of 4 for $2.69, or whole flats of 32 plants for $18.96.”

Lantana

Our Perennial Professional Roy says, “First I will choose Rudbeckia- great in masses as well as a great border plant, also is an Ohio native. Blooms from mid June through September.
Secondly I will choose Echinacea also native to Ohio it blooms all summer, great array of colors, great butterfly attractor.

Echinacea

Both plants are offered in 1 gallon pots, starting at $14.99, with some Echinacea pots up to $19.99.

Our resident cactus & succulent expert, Julie, likes hardy cactus such as the Prickly Pear, (Optunia) in your landscape. Deer will stay away from eating them for the same reason anyone else would- those prickles would hurt! But, an added bonus, is when they bloom, they are quite beautiful, and can be hardy for this area, so no need to do the seasonal move into your garage, or try and find a place in your dining room over the winter!

Prickly Pear (Optunia Cactus)

Here’s a great list of perennial plants for Zone 6 that are considered deer & rabbit resistant- http://www.perennialresource.com/photo_essay.php?ID=318

Here’s a link to some perennials, annuals, shrubs and ground covers deer will tend to avoid:

https://www.gardendesign.com/plants/deer-resistant.html#annuals

Beyond incorporating deer resistant plants in your landscape, and using some of the tips we mentioned, you can protect some of your more vulnerable plants that deer will love (like a coleus or a zonal geranium) in hanging baskets and containers which can be moved out of the reach of your unwelcome guests.

If you’re interested in sharing your tips, favorite plants you’ve included in your landscape, or to join our Oh, Deer support group, please email mearstucker@burgerfarms.com