Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Deer Damage!

As I look out our dining room window and once again see a family of deer forage for food, I am both in awe of nature and hating it at the same time.  I know in a few months when the plants and shrubs are in full bloom, they'll be back.  The deer.  Munching. Feasting on the very plants that I took great care in selecting and caring for for years.  I've spent many hours an dollars in making our landscape beautiful.  I won't let deer munch their way through my plants and my wallet. 
Deer seem to be everywhere.  It used to be seeing deer was such a novelty.  But it seems that more and more people see deer in their yards, in fields, crossing roads and yes, savoring their favorite plants.
At the turn of the century, there were an estimated 500,000 white-tailed deer in the United States. The most recent estimate is that their population has grown to over 25 million — a 5,000% increase! The farming industry and homeowners will lose close to a billion dollars as the result of damage caused by deer. Nature has always kept animal populations in check, but the suburban environment has disrupted the natural checks and balances systems. The deer have had an opportunity to grow...and grow.  In many communities deer have become, for lack of a better word, a nuisance.
Deer feed on many plants and trees commonly found in the yard. They love strawberries, many vegetables, flowers, and the tender tips of young trees. They will also damage trees by rubbing their antlers against them. They have been known to dig up a lawn in search of grubs, the fall favorite of many forest animals. Keeping them from doing what comes naturally, foraging for food, can be arduous. This is especially true during long snowy winters when food supplies are scarce. Most home landscapes and yards are "easy pickings" for a hungry deer. They see it as an easily accessible buffet of culinary delights, much to your chagrin. You can either plant less of their favorite foods, or try to control their feeding habits.
So what can we do to prevent the deer from ruining our landscape?  There are several commercial and home-remedy yard care products available to help reduce their feeding on valuable plants and trees. Many are short-lived, and once the deer become accustomed to the odor or taste, they may become ineffective. It is best to change products or methods on a regular basis. Some of the home remedies to prevent lawn damage by deer are:

  • Hang a bar of soap in a mesh bag from a tree. Fragrant soaps such as Lifebuoy, Irish Spring, and Dial seem to work the best. If there are several trees to protect, use hotel-size bars, or cut the larger bars into several pieces. Tie the bags to the ends of the branches so that any soap that drips off during a rain or snowstorm will not drip onto the trunk. There have been some reports that rabbits will gnaw on the soap residue.
  • Human or dog hair can also be placed in mesh bags or nylons and hung from tree branches.
  • Baby powder, blood meal, or bone meal will also provide some resistance to their feeding, but these will require continued, repeated applications.

There are numerous animal repellent products available. A simple web search on the key 
words 'Deer Repellent Products' will provide you with a wide range of choices.

If you have trees that have beed damaged or injured by deer, call a professional tree service, like Trees "R" Us, Inc. to help you determine the best plan for the tree  Our goal is to keep your trees healthy and thriving for years to come.  Trees "R" Us, Inc. services the North Shore of Chicago and its Northwest suburbs.  

Deer are beautiful, serene creatures and are fascinating to watch. Keeping them away from your landscape plants can be a frustrating and seemingly hopeless task. It is the price we all pay for nature, but we can control it.  Calling the pros will actually keep more of the green stuff in you wallet than in your friendly neighborhood deer.

Thanks for reading,

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