Prevent Bambi Damage

I must be incredibly lucky in my gardening adventures, because only once have I had any deer damage.


It has to be sheer luck, because we are surrounded by wild lands, which have lots of wildlife, like bears, deer, wild turkeys, foxes, squirrels and chipmunks.

The only damage I ever had was to a bowl of nasturtiums, and it was only pruned off, and re-grew in a week or so. The deer never came back, so obviously was finding lots of other food.

Preventing Deer Damage

So how do you prevent deer damage if you are in a deer heavy zone, even when they have lots of forage?

First of all, if you are growing solely the plants that deer like (hostas, succulents and the like) then plant some highly aromatic plants among them, either in pots, or planted in the same garden.

Artimesia, lavender, sage, herbs like oregano and rue, dill, in fact, anything that is pungent and oily. Many drought tolerant and xeric plants seem to also be unpalatable for deer, so they’re doing double duty.

Most deer will avoid areas with a dog, even if it doesn’t bark at them. Simply their presence and scent will deter them.

Other options are to use cougar urine, but good luck getting any of that!

Cheaper and less dangerous options include shavings from a bar of Irish Spring soap, which apparently will deter them from the area, or bags of human hair – collect yours next time you have a haircut, or ask your local salon or barber for some.

Put them in cloth bags hung on the fence or trees close to the area they get in.

There are commercial preparations such as one called Skoot, but I haven’t tried these, so can’t speak to them. These will need to be reapplied after a rain.

Going up the scale of difficulty, cover any susceptible plants with bird cages. Deer won’t attempt to knock them off or touch them, so they shouldn’t get disturbed. They can look very rustic and appealing, and won’t affect the plants growth.

Once deer have a taste of your succulents, not much will deter them from munching on them, and possibly finding yet more plants that are to their taste in your garden. If this is the case, your only option is fencing.

Deer won’t jump over something they can’t see through to land, so if you have a solid 6′ fence, this will prevent them in most cases.

If you prefer a see-through fence, it will have to be 8′. the other option is to have two shorter fences, spaced 4′ apart. This will only work on larger acreages.

The problem with deer, cute as they are singly, is that they communicate with their friends, telling other members of the herd where the good stuff is.

So the time to act is at the beginning of them making inroads into your garden. Don’t wait for them to get established, it will be much harder to discourage them.

The other damage deer can do, other than consuming your plants, is by the bucks rubbing the velvet off their antlers, thereby scraping the bark off your trees.

If you have any tips on how to prevent deer damage on succulents, let me know!

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