Protecting your garden from deer, rabbits, voles & small critters

One of the biggest challenges of gardening is how to protect our precious plants and trees from being eaten.  On Vancouver Island, (a temperate rainforest) it is one of our greatest challenges.  We do not get the cold snowy winters with inches of frozen ground and plants dying back until spring.  Rather, we have greenery all year and can garden year round most years.  This creates a greater challenge as the deer and other rodents too are active and seeking sustenance all year long.  The deer have a natural mechanism built into their DNA that allows them to remember where they found food and to pass this information on to their off spring, as do other creatures.  The deer population on Vancouver Island is at an all time high due to the increased human population pushing the boundaries of nature and with less predators lurking in their midst, the deer have thrived.  Our gardens represent a bounty of unlimited greens all year long!

There are many ways to minimize the damage done by deer and other plant eating critters.  I would strongly recommend using as many as possible to manage if not eliminate the problems or at the very least to successfully protect your garden gems.   Yes, the deer are beautiful and are protected so minimizing the appetite of these gracious creatures is a must to protect your gardens and create harmony for all.  Keeping deer at bay from the garden is important for many reasons, not only to protect your plants, but to minimize the risk of Lyme’s Disease from the dreaded ticks that deer can carry.  I have compiled a list of how to control deer and other rodents in the gardens to help keep you, your pets and your plants safe!

  1. Do your due diligence and choose as many plants as possible that deer and other rodents do not like to dine on.  Ask your local garden centre for advice or down load a list here.
  2.  Fence your garden area to keep deer out.  Although this can be costly and extreme,  it will solve the problem completely.  Remember, deer can jump a fence 6 feet high or more.  If you choose to put a fence up, try to fit it with your garden design to add to the landscape rather then making it unsightly.   If you do not want or cannot afford to fence in the entire garden area, then adding a fence around each fruit tree or rose bush is also an option…one that also works…although it too can be unsightly in your garden.
  3. Choose plants with strong scents that deer do not like and use them as companion plants with plants that deer do love to dine on…often the strong scented plants will deter the deer or confuse their sense of smell so they will miss dining on their favourites.  Remember though, they will return to your garden again and again will probably find and feast on the plants they love so much.
  4. Use a product call “Plant Skydd” to deter the deer and with continued use many garden owners have stated the deer no longer come to their garden.   The product is all natural, will not harm plants, pets or people and does not need to be applied after every rain fall.  This is great news for gardeners and it really works!
  5. Plant the perimeter of your entire garden space with plants that deer do not eat.  Choose different types of plants with strong scents to deter the deer from crossing the line into your garden.  Deer have very sensitive noses and will often decide not to cross the line into the garden if there is a wide perimeter of smelly plants that offends their sense of smell.

This summer we did a small pruning and clean up at a property and saw the full extent of the damage deer can do in a short span of time.  This cedar hedge is obviously to the deers liking.  Planting cedrus or true cedars will help minimize the damage done by deer.  Often deer will taste fresh new shoots on trees and plants…even the ones they are not supposed to eat but will not eat much more then a taste.

Good luck in your garden…see you in the garden or the garden centre!

 

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