Cute and innocent as they may seem, deer can actually wreak havoc onto your garden if you don’t protect your property well enough. They are, after all, still wild animals. When it comes down to instincts, they’re bound to go after whatever looks delicious and accessible.
Besides, why would they make the effort to forage from somewhere farther when the food is already neatly arranged in your lawn? Best of all, there’s no immediate threat within your area—making it safe for them to go in and out whenever they wish.
From Friendly Neighbors to Garden Pests
You may think that garden pests are only limited to those pesky insects and rodents, but deer can also be considered a pest if they aren’t successfully kept out. If the plants in your garden look or smell like a meal to a deer, expect it to be gone on your next watering schedule.
This is why it’s important to set your boundaries immediately. That’s because they’d make it hard for you to get rid of their presence—even if you never exactly invited them in.
Telltale Signs That Deer Have Been in Your Property
Homeowners who have a huge enough garden may not mind sharing what they have with their wild visitors. The problem with this is that deer know nothing about “sharing”. They’ll take what they can get when they’re hungry—especially when nothing else is stopping them from munching on your plants.
Thus, to keep your flowers and vegetables protected from any uninvited guests, installing a deer fence for garden becomes a necessary precaution.
Oftentimes, you’re not going to catch any deer in the act as they like to feed during nighttime—when you’re quite comfortable in your own home. Worse, their presence isn’t obvious because their movements are incredibly quiet. However, there are some telltale signs that they’re in fact the culprit in your most recent garden carnage.
To ensure that you’re applying the correct deterrent, you must also ensure that you’ve identified the problem correctly first. The signs below will confirm that you indeed need to install a deer fence as soon as possible:
1. Uneven Bite Marks
Many deer will attempt to bite off accessible trees, not unlike this one did in this video:
Fortunately, after installing a wireless fence, it will learn soon enough not to go near that tree.
Deer don’t have any upper incisors, which are the front teeth that are present in most mammals. Thus, they must tear away plant leaves when they eat it.
As a result, what’s left of the leaves are usually jagged edges. When they leave bite marks on your plants or tree branches, you’ll notice that the marks only involve the lower teeth.
If you suspect that deer might be the ones that are coming in at night, their bite marks will immediately give them away.
2. Deer Tracks
Another way you can confirm whether deer have made an unannounced visit is to look for any deer tracks in your garden. Deer hoof prints are actually very easy to recognize. Their feet are comprised of two toes that form an upside-down V. Sometimes, it may also look like an upside-down heart.
Deer may be stealthy when they’re doing things behind your back, but they can literally leave your garden flattened and ravaged because they’re not exactly light-footed animals. Most deer would be at least 150 lbs. as adults, and they may even be heavier depending on the species.
They may be good at keeping quiet, but the evidence definitely shows that they weren’t so delicate!
3. Deer Droppings
If you see any deer droppings near your garden, you can be sure that they’ve been in the area. Their droppings are black pellets that are pebble-sized. Though these pellets would make good fertilizers for your plants, these would only encourage other deer to come to the area and further chomp your plants away.
That said, once you see these droppings, it’s essential to clean them up right away. It’s also recommended to utilize other natural deterrents like strong-smelling plants until you can install a stable fence. This ensures that nothing would draw them into your garden.
4. Ravaged Plants
Deer aren’t picky eaters when they’re really hungry, but they do show certain preferences towards certain plants. They particularly like soft plants that have high water content such as buds, roses, clematis, and hostas.
They’re not usually fond of coarse plants that are fuzzy, spiny or bristly. Those that have strong aromas aren’t usually touched, either. Thus, many owners are starting to choose “deer-resistant” plants to minimize deer damage.
Aside from building fences to keep deer away, repellents and unpalatable plants seem to help protect your garden from the deer’s hungry stomachs.
If you really want to plant flowers in your garden, you’re better off choosing a “menu” that deer wouldn’t like. Examples include daffodils, heucheras, lilac bush, lavender, marigolds, snapdragons, camellias, hydrangeas, poppy, and zinnias.
The problem is, even if you eliminate their favorite foods, it will only reduce your problem to a certain degree. As long as they can freely graze within your property, your plants may always be in danger from deer feeding.
Deer tend to bite off tree barks during the winter when food is relatively scarce. During the summer, male deer damage barks through fraying.
Fraying is when bucks rub their heads against tree trunks to get rid of the velvet from their newly grown antlers. This is also a way for them to mark their territories. Hence, if deer aren’t kept out as soon as possible, you’ll have a hard time convincing them to stay away.
Conclusion: Don’t Let Deer Become Your Garden’s Pests
The ultimate solution for keeping deer away from your garden is to choose the right type of deer fence for the job. You may need to try out a few types before you get the one that truly works for you.
In any case, negative reinforcement seems to do the trick quite well. Once the deer understands where they’re not supposed to be, you can peacefully coexist with deer without worrying about what they’d do to your plants.