Volume 13, Issue 29 ~ July 21-27, 2005

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Dr. Gouin's Bay Gardener

Discourage Deer from Dining on Your Lawn

Deer are becoming more of a nuisance every year. In addition to feasting on vegetable gardens, they have taken a liking to eating a number of landscape plants. Here’s a trick you may not know to spoil their dinner. Nurserymen and orchardists have for years relied on scented soaps for keeping deer away from their trees and shrubs. Small bars of scented soap are hung from branches of trees or placed on five-foot-tall stakes so that the bars are suspended approximately three feet above the ground at 20-foot intervals. For maximum effectiveness, the brand of soap must be changed at monthly intervals because deer will become accustomed to smells and will resume feeding. Place the bars of soap in small mesh bags or suspend them from hooks made of copper wire. To prevent crows from stealing the soap, do not use springs.

Unwashed dog hair has also been used effectively to control deer. However, like the soap, the dog hair must be replaced twice monthly. Aluminum pie tins loosely tied together with string so the tins will bang against each other with only the slightest breeze are somewhat effective.

There are a number of commercial deer repellants on the market, but the effectiveness of these is dependent on repeated applications. Some repellents generate very strong odors that can be objectionable to neighbors. A repellent made using hot pepper sauce at the rate of two tablespoons per pint of water with an anti-desiccant such as Wilt-Pruf at one tablespoon per pint is also effective but requires repeated applications to protect the new growth.

Professor Emeritus Francis Gouin retired from the University of Maryland, where he was the state’s extension specialist in ornamental horticulture. Follow his column of practical gardening and plant advice every week, only in Bay Weekly. Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at [email protected].

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