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Better Deer Control

As you begin to think about planting flowers in your yard, here are some tips from a Friendly Gardener to help control damage from the deer population.

There are four major components to a deer "control" (a laugh) program:

1. Scarecrows. These are motion activated sprinklers, hooked up to a hose (which needs to be always turned on), which send a strong 3-5 second stream of water about 30 feet over about a quarter circle when triggered by movement within the covered area. The degree of the arc and the distance of the spray can be adjusted somewhat.

Several scarecrows can be hooked together on one hose, although to keep a strong spray I recommend not more than two on a single line. They also make a noise loud enough to scare the animals. Deer are dumb, but they learn quickly to avoid things they don't like. Getting wet is one of them, so they avoid the area covered by the scarecrow. There are problems, of course, one of which is the deer don't avoid the areas of the yard that scarecrows don't cover and another is that you have to remember to turn off the hose before humans or dogs venture into the covered area.

2. Stinky sprays. Liquid Fence and Bobex work well if sprayed on the plants early and often (I spray every two weeks in the spring, when hosta, etc., are growing fast and every month in the summer and fall). Problems: they are expensive and they really do stink. Wear gloves. You can never get to tulips early enough to protect them, though.

3. Netting. For protection of evergreens (especially yew and hemlock) during the winter, I cover the plants with large pieces of netting made especially for that purpose. The deer don't like to bite down on the netting.

4. Apples. The deer love the apples that fall off our old apple tree for about a month during the summer. When there are apples available on the ground, they ignore everything else.

Our friendly gardener says he is confident that he has less deer damage than he would without these efforts. He still has plenty, though, especially in the spring and on new plants that he forgets to spray.

In addition, another friend mentioned that hanging CDs over your flower beds may distract deer because of the reflections. This might look a little Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-ish, but if it works, what the heck.

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