Deer present a constant problem for Northern Virginia gardeners, and that is especially true here in Loudoun County, which has long had one of the highest whitetail deer densities in the state. Cold temperatures and snow on the ground this time of year make it harder for deer to find food in their natural habitat. As a result, nicely landscaped homes become more and more attractive to whitetails. Nothing is foolproof when it comes to protecting your plants from hungry deer, but employing a strategy that relies on a combination of the following control tactics can help prevent or at least minimize the damage.
- Deer repellents: there are a number of these on the market, and many are effective at least temporarily. Some experts suggest alternating between repellents so the deer don’t become too accustomed to any one of them. Popular deer repellents
- Deer netting: we’ve found this to be effective at protecting flower beds from deer in some areas, although we have seen them rip it up as well. Deer netting
- Terraced landscapes: deer aren’t known for their climbing ability so using retaining walls to create a terraced landscape can deter them.
- Floodlights: outdoor lights with motion detectors help sometimes.
- Eliminate bedding areas: if you live on a larger property with surrounding pastures, mow or bush hog the fields in late fall to eliminate bedding areas for deer.
- Deer resistant plants: choose deer resistant plants for your landscape and plant any that are attractive to deer closer to your house. Deer-resistant plants
One of the best ways to keep deer out of your yard and away from your plants can also be your best friend: the family dog. Deer are much less likely to frequent areas where a dog’s scent is present. Make sure to bring your dog along when you’re gardening!
Finally, nothing beats a fence. This is one of the more expensive solutions, and the fence needs to be at least seven feet tall to be effective. Also, keep in mind that deer will try to jump even a fence of this height, and they have been known to try and crash through the bars of metal fences. While unusual, this can lead to gruesome results and difficult cleanup.