Monday, June 4, 2012

Why I Hate Deer...

Today's breakfast menu for discerning deer - Stella Doro Day Lilies  

This is a nice patch of Stella Doro day lilies in my backyard.  Oh, you only see one flower there?  What?  You want to know what all those stalky looking things are?  They're the STEMS of my day lilies.     I say STEMS because the damn neighborhood deer ate the heads off the flowers. 

I hate deer.  

My day lilies should look like this right now...

When we first moved into this house, the driveway was lined with small boxwood hedges.  The neighbors told us how they used to watch the deer eat the hedges when the previous owners lived here.  They used to look out their windows and laugh - oh how cute the deer were, and too bad they had a taste for boxwoods.  

I thought it was funny myself, not caring much for the boxwood hedge (it was a driveway, not a knot garden in the Queen's backyard) and not yet understanding the futility of fighting with the deer.  

Now, I get it.  

I love plants, and yet, I hate babying them.  I like to plant them, water them a bit, and be done with it.  Since this is my gardening style, plants like roses do not typically make their way into my yard.  I also have extremely sandy soil, lots of shade and no sprinkler system.  I have discovered certain plants that just love my style of gardening (the fend for yourself style):  day lilies, hostas, hydrangeas.  

Salad bar selections for deer.

As the years have gone by, I've tried: 

1. spraying the plants with Deer Off (expensive stuff, necessitating a do-over whenever it rains), 

2. hanging shiny things amongst the plants (my deer are to smart for that crap - either that, or they are also part Italian, and instead of fearing it, they just appreciate a little bling in their surroundings)  

3. sprinkling the garden with garlic powder and/or cayenne pepper or, in a pinch, Taco seasoning (with minimal success, although it sure does overpower the smell of flowers!)

4. placing tufts of dog hair around the garden (they must be laughing at me behind my back when I do this... maybe we're talking about wild deer?  Mine are surely jaded suburbanites)

5. chasing after them, waving long sticks

6. throwing rocks at them to scare them off (again, is that deer laughter?)

7. fencing the yard (I recently proposed to my husband that we top off the 4 foot split rail fence with another 4 feet of fencing on top so the deer won't be able to jump over it.  He asked me if I was crazy.)

I thought about getting one of those motion sensor water jet items, but it's somewhere in the range of 100.00, and I'd need a bunch of them - along with a bunch of hoses, and it seems ironic that I would spend that much effort thwarting the deer when I'm unwilling to put in that much effort to water the plants.  

The only thing that works reliably is this:

... fencing that completely covers the plant the deer like...

Although, if your fence does not COMPLETELY cover that plant, you may get this:

nibbled portions of my Lady in Red Hydrangea I discovered this morning.  

Every month or two, when I'm up getting ready for work and the sun is just coming up, I'll spot a deer in the yard eating my plants and it makes me absolutely nuts.  When our old dog was still alive, I would rip open the back door and tell him, "Get the deer, Nyles, GET THE DEER!!"  He would tear out after them, chasing them to the back fence where they would easily hop over and stand just a few yards off in the woods and stare at him.  If I spot them and they're close, I'll chase after them myself, but it's mostly out of rage rather than a true hope of catching and giving them a good swat.  If my dog can't catch them, I haven't got a prayer.  

About eight years ago, I had a spectacular vegetable garden.  I had planted a whole host of things in it, and my husband was watering it every day. Knowing our deer problem, we had surrounded the whole garden with "deer fencing," which is a heavy netting we stretched across poles we had placed around the perimeter.  

Around 11:00 one night in early August, when the corn was growing high, the tomatoes were ripening and the watermelon was growing to be a nice size, I happened to hear something out in the garden.  I shined a flashlight out the window of the second floor and saw three pairs of glowing eyeballs peering at me from deer-head height in the center of the garden.  I stuck my head out the window...


They had the audacity to just stand there and stare at me.

I was FURIOUS.  I ran outside in my pajamas, waving a stick in my hand. 

"HEY!  SHOO!!!" I shouted again.  

They ran a few yards away, back through the ripped garden fence and just over the backyard fence.  I thought I might have won the battle that night.

I went back in the house and 15 minutes later, I checked out the window again.  The same three sets of eyes peered up at me from the garden again, but this time, when I ran outside waving my sick, they actually SNORTED at me, as if to say, 

EXCUSE me, can't you see that we're EATING?

I threw the stick end over end like a throwing ax, and they sprinted a couple of steps away, as if saying, 

Hey, lady, it's dark out, and we know you're going back inside any minute...

I threw a couple of rocks at them, which accomplished absolutely nothing, since I'm pretty awful at sports.  

I went back in the house, defeated. 

The next morning, I inspected the damage.  The garden looked like Mount St. Helen's after the volcano erupted - nothing horizontal was left at all - just the vertical stalks of the corn, and stems of the tomatoes.  Somehow they had discovered if they stood on their hind legs, they could rip the plastic fencing with their hooves, and so they had managed to get in.  

You may have won that battle, deer, but I'll be back...  

I'll be back... 


  1. My favorite thing is when they stamp their little feet at you while they are snorting in defiance. I love them but they do a lot of garden damage.

  2. I feel for you. How about an airsoft sleepover? Let the boys give them a little grief.
    Sorry :-(