Jessica Walliser
January 6, 2011

Photo by Jessica Walliser
The deer around our house have become a real problem for us, but they have no problem at all nibbling away at our shrubs and plants.

For the past several years we have had a bit of a deer problem in our front yard and garden.  When we moved into our house, I knew there was the potential for deer issues, and they seem to be getting worse as time goes on. I think this year they’re going to be worse then ever because the wooded lot across the street has now been turned into a large house and lawn.  It seems that when humans take away some of their open space, the deer tend to exact their revenge by consuming something cherished out of the garden.  Ugh.

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I mentioned in a past post about how the deer were nibbling all sorts of plant material in our front garden. Not eating it to the nub, thank goodness, but taking a nice bite out of everything—even the stuff they aren’t “supposed” to like.  We ended up netting in our boxwood (which were planted there specifically because they are not deer favorites), our dogwood tree and a few other things. This year, the deer ate all the berries off my winterberry shrubs the night before I was going to cut them and use them in our Christmas centerpiece. They were well-mannered, though, because they only ate the berries and not the twigs. How nice of them.

The really bad news for us is that when I went out yesterday morning to let the chickens out of the coop, I found two separate lines of deer tracks running across the backyard; one big and one small.  A doe and her fawn perhaps? 

To get there, they had to jump our triple layer, split rail and chain-link fence—something they’ve only done once to my knowledge in the past four or five years.  I hope they did it because they got spooked and don’t make a habit out of it. 

I scouted around my plants and fruit trees to see if they had lunch while they were here.  Some yew tips were eaten, but that’s all I found.  I’m really, really hoping they don’t come back and discover our young fruit trees.  Mostly because we have waited so long for them to get as big as they are, and I’m not a very patient person.  I think maybe I’ll go out and spray them with a deer repellant just to be sure. 

Every time I think about our deer problem, though, I am reminded of a gardening friend who once told me about her super deer. One night she and her husband were woken by a thumping and rattling sound. They came down stairs to find a buck banging it’s nose against the glass of their sun porch in a fruitless attempt to eat the houseplants inside. The same buck was found a few weeks later eating the pine garland Christmas decoration from around their front door. He had walked up several steps and right onto their front porch. After she chased him off, she looked at the garland and saw that the buck had also eaten the light cords and bulbs threaded through the garland.  Remembering that always makes my deer problem seem barely a problem at all.  

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