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Dear there’s a Deer in the Garden

a fawn standing in the woods staring at the camera

The UK is home to 6 species of wild deer; red, muntjac, fallow, roe, sika and Chinese water deer. Shy and elusive for most of the time, they can be surprisingly brazen when it comes to invading our gardens to satisfy their hunger.

Drawn into domestic gardens which adjoin their territory by the sweet aroma of blossoming flowers, they make short work of taking off the prime blooms. There are some pretty nifty options open to you in your bid to retain your hard-earned flowers, all of which are entirely legal and non-aggressive.

What damage can they do?

Well, you can expect the normal answers in regards to the question. Deer are grazing animals so you can expect them to eat a fair amount of your lawn if they choose to eat there, not only that but they do enjoy flowers and vegetables to eat on as any other grazing animal would. 

If you have any trees within your garden then you may notice some marks on the bark as deers are known to rub their antlers on trees which may not cause any major damage to the tree but can look rather untidy.

The Solutions

Strong scented plants like Lavender or Marigolds, when planted densely around your garden can be an effective deterrent, as the deer are reluctant to pass through them. The strong smell lingers on their fur, which hinders their ability to detect predators. It also makes it harder for them to distinguish potential food sources from their surroundings. At the other end of the fragrance spectrum, the strong, pungent aromas given off by herbs like Mint and Oregano work by simply not smelling good enough for the deer to eat.

Many gardeners swear by the use of SOAP as a Deer Deterrent, sprinkling it in grated form around the base of their flower plants or even shaping it into small cubes and skewering them into the ground close by. This also works by acting as an aromatic deterrent but has the added benefit of dehydrating any bugs or aphids which are present in the soil. Unless it disintegrates due to heavy rain, the soap will last effectively for a month or so. Beware, though; It is important to avoid using any soaps which contain coconut oil, as this will have the adverse effect of attracting the deer!

Human hair is also a long-standing, successful Deer deterrent. The hair should be hung in small ‘pockets’ along the garden boundary to prevent it from blowing away in the wind, and many gardeners keep stocks of tights, stockings or pop-socks especially for this purpose.

Another widely-used is startling the deer. All over the UK, you will see allotments and vegetable plots festooned with anything which moves, makes a noise or catches the eye. Strings of old CDs which glint and reflect light, tin cans which rattle and clank are all put to use. Many people find all these things unsightly though, so this one is definitely a matter of personal taste. On a similar theme, LED lights with motion sensors have been successful with all manner of nocturnal visitors. 

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