THE KSL GREENHOUSE SHOW

Preventing Deer Damage

May 21, 2016, 11:39 AM | Updated: Jul 19, 2022, 10:41 am

Quick Facts…

It is difficult to move deer out of areas where they are not wanted. A hungry deer will find almost any plant palatable, so no plant is “deer proof.” The two types of deer repellents are contact repellents and area repellents. Netting can reduce deer damage to small trees. Adequate fencing to exclude deer is the only sure way to control deer damage.

Although browsing deer are charming to watch, they can cause extensive damage by feeding on plants and rubbing antlers against trees. In urban areas, home landscapes may become the major source of food. Deer can pose a serious aesthetic and economic threat. Damage is most commonly noticed in spring on new, succulent growth. Because deer lack upper incisors, browsed twigs and stems show a rough, shredded surface. Damage caused by rabbits, on the other hand, has a neat, sharp 45-degree cut. Rodents leave narrow teeth marks when feeding on branches. Deer strip the bark and leave no teeth marks.

Management Strategies

It is difficult to move deer out of areas where they are not wanted. Not all strategies are practical for every homeowner. Frightening deer with gas exploders, strobe lights, pyrotechnics or tethered dogs typically provides only temporary relief. More practical management strategies include selecting plants unattractive to deer, treating plants with deer repellents, netting and tubing, and fencing.

Placement and Selection of Plants

The placement of plants in part determines the extent of damage. Plant more susceptible species near the home, in a fenced area, or inside a protective ring of less-preferred species. Table 1 lists plants and their susceptibility to deer damage. A hungry deer will find almost any plant palatable, so no plant is “deer proof.” Also, a plant species may be damaged rarely in one area but damaged severely in another.

Repellents

The two types of deer repellents are contact repellents and area repellents. Contact repellents are applied directly to plants, causing them to taste bad. Area repellents are placed in a problem area and repel by their foul odor. Repellents are generally more effective on less preferred plants.

Apply repellents on a dry day with temperatures above freezing. Treat young trees completely. Older trees may be treated only on their new growth. Treat to a height 6 feet above the maximum expected snow depth. Deer browse from the top down. Hang or apply repellents at the bud or new growth level of the plants you wish to protect.

A spray of 20 percent whole eggs and 80 percent water is one of the most effective repellents. To prevent the sprayer from clogging, remove the chalaza or white membrane attached to the yolk before mixing the eggs. The egg mixture is weather resistant but must be reapplied in about 30 days. See Table 2 for a list of commercially available repellents and their ratings against deer and elk browsing in Colorado.

Home-remedy repellents are questionable at best. These include small, fine-mesh bags of human hair (about two handfuls) and bar soap hung from branches of trees. Replace both soap and hair bags monthly. Deer have been reported to eat the soap bars. Materials that work in one area or for one person may not work at all in an area more highly frequented by deer.

Netting and Tubing

Tubes of Vexar netting around individual seedlings are an effective method to reduce deer damage to small trees. The material degrades in sunlight and breaks down in three to five years. These tubes can protect just the growing terminals or can completely enclose small trees. Attach tubes to a support stake to keep them upright. Another option is flexible, sunlight-degradable netting that expands to slip over seedlings. Both products are available from Colorado State Forest Service offices.

Paper or Reemay budcaps form a protective cylinder around the terminal leader and bud. They may help reduce browse damage. Budcaps are rectangular pieces of material folded lengthwise and stapled around the terminal leader.

Tubes placed around the trunks of larger trees will help prevent trunk damage. Tubes may not, however, protect trunks from damage when bucks use the trees to scrape the velvet off their antlers. Fencing may be required.

Fencing

Adequate fencing to exclude deer is the only sure way to control deer damage. The conventional deer-proof fence is 8 feet high and made of woven wire. Electric fences also can be used. Electric fences should be of triple-galvanized, high-tensile, 13.5-gauge wire carrying a current of 35 milliamps and 3,000 to 4,500 volts. Several configurations of electric fences are used: vertical five-, seven-, or nine-wire; slanted seven-wire; single strand; and others. When using a single strand electric fence it helps the deer to ‘notice’ that the wire is there if it is marked with cloth strips, reflective tape or something similar. Otherwise, the deer may not see it in time and go right through it.

Additional options include invisible mesh barriers, slanting deer fences, and single-wire, electric fences baited with peanut butter. The invisible mesh barriers are polypropylene fences of various mesh sizes, typically 8 feet high with a high tensile strength, that blend in with the surroundings. The baited fences attract deer to the fence instead of what’s inside the fence. They administer a safe correction that trains the deer to stay away. They are effective for small Gardens, nurseries and orchards (up to 3 to 4 acres) that are subject to moderate deer pressure. Deer are attracted by the peanut butter and encouraged to make nose-to-fence contact. Deer, like many wild animals, seem to respect and respond better to electric fencing after they become familiar with the fenced area. Additional information on fences and their construction can be found in Deer (Craven and Hygnstrom), available from Colorado State University Extension offices. (See references.)

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

The KSL Greenhouse Show

Tulips are bulbs that you plant in the fall so they can be ready in the spring. They typically come...

Michelle Lee

It’s time for tulips to bloom

Tulips are getting ready to bloom. If you planted these in the fall, your garden will soon be filled with bright and colorful bulbs.

18 hours ago

There’s not a lot of options for dwarf fruit trees out there, but there’s enough in apples and ...

Michelle Lee

Growing dwarf fruit trees

One of the topics the KSL Greenhouse show has been covering a lot these past few weeks is gardening in small spaces. Last week, Hosts Taun and Maria decided to continue this discussion, with the focus on dwarf fruit trees.

8 days ago

The first thing Sheriden wants you to consider is to only plant what you know you will eat. (Canva)...

Michelle Lee

Tips for gardening efficiently in small spaces

If you live on a small property, it can be challenging to build a nice, substantial garden for yourself. Fortunately, Horticulturist Sheriden Hansen has some tips.

15 days ago

cold frames shown, they help to extend your growing season...

Michelle Lee

Extend your growing season with cold frames

The changing seasons may make it difficult to grow vegetables year-round, but there are ways you can extend your growing season. JayDee Gunnell joined the KSL Greenhouse show to discuss how cold frames can help you garden for just a bit longer.

22 days ago

When you’re making your selections, you will want to avoid the trailing blackberries because they...

Michelle Lee

Selecting the best blackberry varieties to grow in northern Utah

Berries are one the most popular types of fruits that people like to grow in Utah. Last week on the KSL Greenhouse show, Taun and Maria gave some suggestions for the best blackberry varieties to grow in the northern Utah area.

29 days ago

Got a small yard? Don’t let that discourage you from planting! There are plenty of smaller fruits...

Michelle Lee

Fruits and vegetables you can grow in a small yard

Got a small yard? Don’t let that discourage you from planting! Horticulturist Liz Hamilton says there are plenty of smaller fruits and vegetables you can grow in a limited space.

1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Preventing Deer Damage