Express-News Weekly Column
Saturday, November 10, 2001
Submitted by Calvin Finch, Ph.D., Director of Conservation, SAWS, and
LIVING WITH DEER
Are you blessed with deer in your neighborhood? If so,
you have probably had them eat most of your shrubbery, girdle the young
trees with their antlers, and have given up trying to garden at all.
One of the best solutions to eliminating deer damage in the yard is
a fence. Eight feet high will exclude all deer. Our seven-foot tall
fence has been effective. It may make a difference that we have an active
Airedale on guard inside the fence as well. The combination of deer-chasing
dog and a five or six foot fence may do the job.
Deer do not like to jump fences where they cannot see what is on the
other side. A block or brick wall or even a fence thick with vines will
often be effective.
It is easy to understand why deer do not want to jump into an area where
they cannot see the dangers, but a single line of monofilament fish
line also works. Placed at deer shoulder length (2.5 ft), the almost
invisible line will spook the deer enough that they pass up the area
within the barrier. Tie the line between trees or on sturdy posts for
an effective deterrent.
As far as materials like predator urine, blood meal, rotten eggs, or
hair, I have not had any luck getting them to work. If you apply the
product Hinder to specific plants, the deer will pass it up. Hinder
is a relatively expensive product. Make it go much farther by using
it in a homemade pepper sauce. Pepper sauce on its own applied conscientiously
every week will discourage the deer, but adding a few ounces of Hinder
to every batch seems to make it even more effective. For complete instructions
on brewing up your own pepper sauce to deer proof fruit trees, flowers,
and vegetables, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the Texas
Cooperative Extension Service, Deer Pepper Sauce, 3355 Cherry Ridge,
Suite 212, San Antonio, TX 78230.
For those of you who want to live with deer without the aid of fences,
dogs, or pepper sauce, you can try to use landscape plants that they
do not relish.
Among the annual flowers that deer do not like in my neighborhood are
snapdragons, verbena, stocks and dusty miller. Lantanas, Turk's cap,
iris, shrimp plant, salvias, and esperanza are perennials to use. Shrubs
that work are pittosporum, boxwood, privet, ceniza, Texas mountain laurel,
nandinas, pomegranate, and yaupon hollies. Mexican plum, persimmon,
and loquat are small trees that the deer do not seem to eat. In some
neighborhoods the deer eat the new growth from hollies. In the Medical
Center area, where I live, possomhaw holly is eaten, but yaupon, Burford
and Chinese holly fare well. The groundcover Asiatic jasmine seems to
be left alone. Dwarf ruellias like 'Katy' and 'Bonita' will have the
new growth browsed in a drought but usually prosper. Most succulents
and cactus are spared, but the most desirable succulent for our landscapes,
red yucca, will have its blooms eaten. Ornamental grasses seem to fare
well, use pampas grass, fountain grass and the muhlys. A muhly grass
called 'Autumn Blush' is especially decorative with its reddish seed
sprays that persist all winter.