We have seen an increase in deer damage along our back gardens over the last few weeks.
Deer move most often and for the greatest distances during spring and fall. In late spring, does travel in search of fawning sites, yearlings explore their territory often with less fear than adult deer. Travel increases in fall after the harvest, as deer leave harvested croplands and begin mating. It is intriguing to see that they follow the same path, leaving some areas untouched and others heavily browsed. We have also noticed that they walk through our vegetable garden, easily climbing over the three foot fence in fall and winter, yet do not seem to bother during the summer garden season.
My own approach is not to worry about it so much. I am slowly putting in deer resistant shrubs where it matters, but do not worry if they browse some tender shoots in the short run. This hosta plant survived most of the garden season and will come back next year, so no real harm done. A useful website is the Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance maintained by the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station. It is interactive, allowing you to select by extend of damage (for example rarely or frequently damaged), type of plant (shrub, perennial etc) and list by common or latin name.
If needed I may try short sections of fencing just to redirect the deer around small sensitive areas (such as the veggie garden during peak season times) but other than that will actually enjoy the chance to see the deer as they forage. After all, isn’t that what we moved into the country for?
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