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Oh Deer!


It was all going so well; the roses were leafing up nicely with fresh new shoots emerging, the Clematis had erupted back to life from a dead winter and were racing skywards, then this thing turned up to spoil the party:

Deer in the GardenThe garden as a restaurant.

Here, the deer is helping itself to the fresh new shoots of the recently emerged day lilies in that border. After taking some pictures it quickly out-stayed its welcome and was shoo-ed off back to the woods, whence it came. We had deer damage last year when they munched the fresh new shoots of the recently planted honeysuckle and climbing roses. This year, they’ve had another go at the climbing roses, nibbled on the day lilies and shock-horror, chewed the new shoots off one of the clematis in the trugs at the front! The nerve! It was all going so well too!

Deer Nibbled Clematis

Deer nibbled Clematis

There’s not much that can be done to deter deer apart from using a physical barrier such as temporarily surrounding growing plants with robust chicken wire. This is something I might have to investigate as at the moment, the garden is a deli for deer and I’d prefer it wasn’t used as a Pret-a-Manger by the wildlife passing by.

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Sunil Patel

I'm Sunil Patel, this is me. I created the Garden at 13 Broom Acres and I open it to visitors. I also bake and write blog posts giving a "behind the scenes" look into what it's like to maintain such a garden.

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gardeninacity 26/04/2015 - 8:03 pm

You could invest in a pet wolf. Where are the poachers when you need them?

Sunil 28/04/2015 - 6:13 pm

Hello Jason, I could get a pet wolf, but the neighbours won’t be happy with what it could do to their cats!

Jayne on Weed Street 11/05/2015 - 8:32 pm

Oh dear is right. I have learned to coexist with them. Sprays – some of then are very effective. Netting. A good dog. Somehow I was able to grow all the things they like as long as I was vigilant about using the organic deterrents.

Sunil 13/05/2015 - 6:33 pm

Hello Jayne, I think I’m going to have to learn to co-exist with them too. They do like the tender shoots of new roses so there’s going to be particular times of the year when they’ll have to be protected with netting. I’ll have to try things like “liquid fence” that was suggested by Lynn earlier.

susan maclean 26/04/2015 - 10:17 pm

N O O O O O ! ! Oh deer oh dear! Sorry Sunil because it’s not funny, but he/she is so beautiful. I think it’s the wire protection, or the investment of a great deal of money for a deer-proof fence. Good luck with it my dear. Or the final solution – are you a meat eater? know anyone with a rifle who could do this and prepare it for the freezer?

Sunil 28/04/2015 - 6:15 pm

Hello Mrs Mac, I think this is one of those (unexpected) things I’m just going to have to learn to live with. It’s only happened a handful of times and as long as the plants come through, it’s all OK in the end. I’m worried about what will happen when I start planting en masse though as I could end up attracting a crowd!

casa mariposa 27/04/2015 - 4:15 am

Erect a 6 ft tall metal deer fence. I’ve seen gardens with them and you can barely see them once everything grows in. It’s either that or get a shotgun and a large dog. What rotten luck. 🙁

Sunil 28/04/2015 - 6:16 pm

Hi Tammy, we’ve got huge hedges on the sides, the front is completely open and there are a row of pines at the back so trying to retro-fit a deer fence in that is pretty much impossible. I think I’ll have to learnt to tolerate roving deer and remember to protect the plants that are establishing so they at least have a chance to take off before being eaten.

aberdeen gardening 27/04/2015 - 10:58 am

Oh no, one of those situations when I would be amazed to see a deer in the garden, reality of the situation is so very different. If I were in this situation I would definably do as casa suggests even if my financial situation meant forgoing holiday and other unnecessary expense for the coming year.

Sunil 28/04/2015 - 6:19 pm

Hello Alistair, it’s pretty difficult for us to get a fence up on our boundary with the established hedges and trees that are already there. I think I’m going to have to admit partial defeat with this particular problem. I can always protect individual plants and parts of the border though. The deer are not too destructive at the moment and they tend to visit only in late winter and late autumn.

lynngator 27/04/2015 - 4:57 pm

Oh Deer! I can sympathize because we have deer here as well as bunnies. The bunnies eat all my hostas and just love tender new rose shoots. Do you have “Liquid Fence” in the UK? I use it and it has really helped. It smells like rotten eggs for about an hour but then is okay. After you get established, you only have to spray once a month. Check it out, Sunil. Those deer will be back to your snack bar.

Sunil 28/04/2015 - 6:21 pm

Hello Lynn, I’ll definitely check it out, Clematis, roses and day-lilies were all munched in the most recent eating session so if I can order a plane to fly low and spray this stuff over the garden, that will work for me!

Sarah Shoesmith 27/04/2015 - 9:50 pm

Beautiful creatures but not in the garden. Here’s a link to the British Deer Society page on deterrents. I guess dirty human hair and urine are cheap enough. I can’t comment on whether they work or not. I wonder if something like garlic spray might do the job?

Sunil 28/04/2015 - 6:23 pm

Hello Sarah, I’ll make sure to start wee-ing in the garden, but that might make the neighbours upset! Thanks for the link; I’ll take a look and see if there are any workable suggestions. I don’t want to limit the garden to deer-proof plants only (I’m guessing they’ll have a go at nearly anything).

Lynne Scott 27/04/2015 - 11:59 pm

8 foot tall black plastic fencing–not the flimsy kind-it’s the only solution. Easy to install, and so worth it. No other deterrents really work. They will be back; and will tell their friends.Initial expense, but worth it—stops those murderous thoughts. Also, you need to protect your investment.

Sunil 28/04/2015 - 6:41 pm

Hello Lynne, given the trees and hedges on our boundary I think I’ll only be able to protect individual plants or parts of borders while they are establishing. If they start coming in groups, then I’ll have to think about getting the big guns out.

Alain 28/04/2015 - 12:22 am

I am sorry to hear that Sunil. The sad thing is that if they liked what they sampled at your place they are likely to come for more. Here we have a fence but several things are outside of it.
I knew deer are a big problem in places like Connecticut but I did not know that they were also a problem in the UK. Good luck.

Sunil 28/04/2015 - 6:43 pm

Hello Alain, this is definitely a re-visit as we had the same problem last year. Deer are a problem in rural or semi-rural areas where there’s lots and lots of woodland around, there’s not many parts of the UK that are like that but the area we’re in is almost surrounded by heath and forest so I guess I should have expected it.

Jean 29/04/2015 - 3:15 am

Oh deer, indeed! I almost never see the deer in my garden; they come at first light when I am still snug in my bed and I find the evidence of their munching on my plants later. I’m most likely to suffer deer damage early in the season when the shoots are tender and the deer are extra hungry (especially after a harsh winter like we had this year). I drape netting over the top of my serenity garden when the new shoots are coming up (especially the hostas, which are a deer favorite here) and remove them after the plants are fully up.

Sunil 14/05/2015 - 12:17 am

Hello Jean, given I can fence the garden off I’m going to have to learn to live with the problem and temporarily fence off the most-munched plants during the spring and autumn, which is when the deer are most likely to make an appearance. Netting over vulnerable plants is also a good idea.


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