Deer: A Constant Pest of the Research and Education Garden

Season after season we plant flowers, shrubs, and trees only to have our four-legged friends come traipsing through the Research Garden causing damage. Yes, I am talking about Whitetail deer, and while they are beautiful to watch, they can wreak havoc on a garden. The deer love to get in our pond and graze on the lilies that are planted in them. Not only does this cause our lilies to never mature and bloom, but it also pokes holes in the liner of the pond and causes the pond to start to leak. The deer also scrape trees to mark their territory. We have had two trees die because of deer scraping them this past year. The damage the deer cause to the Research Garden can be quite costly, but there are a few things we can do to try and prevent as much damage as possible. We can’t keep all of the deer out of our garden, but by incorporating several different management practices we can minimize the damage they cause without causing them any bodily harm.

One thing we use to deter deer from flower beds and trees is a liquid deer repellent. We have found this product to be very effective but quite smelly. It has the odor of rotten eggs and needs to be applied every five to six days. We also use a fake coyote to deter the deer. We put out the fake coyote before we leave in the afternoon. When the deer see the coyote, they stay clear of the location, but the coyote has to be moved constantly to prevent the deer from becoming accustomed to it. The best way to keep the deer from eating our plants is to try and plant deer resistant/tolerant species. A few plants that are deer resistant are marigolds, snapdragons, verbena, and coleus. Deer also tend to stay away from sages and rosemary.

Posted by Ben Fields

Ben Fields has served as the Horticulturist in the Research and Education Garden since November 2016. Before then, he was a Research Technician III in FRS, first at the Dempsey Farm and then at the Bledsoe Farm, where he oversaw all farming operations for research conducted at that site. Ben’s talents and expertise mesh with the mission of the Garden. That facility is a unique blend of active research and educational outreach to landscape professionals, gardeners, and other clientele. And, Ben effectively balances the various duties of his position to ensure that the needs of researchers are met, the aesthetic beauty of the Garden changes with the seasons and is continually improved, and the learning environment and opportunities are ever-present and are of top quality.

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