DEER DAMAGE

Q

I can't keep up with the deer damage to flower beds. Any suggestions for control options? — via the Internet

A

You can help keep deer under control by avoiding the plants that attract them, installing fencing and using repellents. There are a number of deer-resistant plants to choose from (for a list, visit http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/plantanswers/publications/deer.html); however, if you don't have the luxury of replanting, you might consider the other options. Fencing (electrified fencing and tall, non-electrified woven wire) can be costly and detract from the appeal and use of the landscape but will provide a physical barrier to keep them out.

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If you can tolerate some deer damage, consider repellents. Repellents discourage deer feeding by having either an offensive taste or odor. Repellents are most cost effective and work best under the following conditions: low to moderate deer number and damage, small acreage and you can't reasonably make more that two to three applications. There is a broad choice of repellents: human hair, soap, feathermeal, bloodmeal, creosote, mothballs, tankage (animal waste) and commercial chemical repellents. It's best to rotate products.

For more information, refer to a publication (No. 808) from the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources that reviews the attributes of various commercial and non-commercial repellents and provides tips on fencing at http://www.wvu.edu/~agexten/wildlife/deercont.pdf.

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