Deer – My 2nd Worst Enemy

Gardening in Alberta certainly has it’s challenges. The #1 challenge has got to be the weather. Late & early frosts, May blizzards, hail, wind – it all takes a toll on the garden. But there is another enemy. A cute and cuddly, seemingly harmless enemy. It’s the deer.

This is the first year that I have not (yet) been ravaged by hail – but it is also the worst year I have ever had with deer. Why, just this morning I interrupted this little fellow at my square-foot salad bar…

Deer in the Garden

On the menu today was lettuce, kohlrabi, asparagus, peas, strawberries, and assorted flowers. It seems lettuce was the favorite today.

Deer Evidence

So if the deer are regular customers at your garden, here are a few things you can try…

  • Have a radio loudly on throughout the night.
  • Scatter human hair around your garden – ask your local barber to bag a day’s hair.
  • Hang pieces of strong-smelling soap around the garden.

The problem with all of these and other deer-deterring techniques is that deer are pretty smart and quickly learn your tricks and ignore them. From my experience there are only two real options.

Option #1. Build a fence. If you have the money and don’t mind an eight-foot fence around your garden, this is probably the best deer-proof solution.

Option #2. Live with it. If you live in Alberta, there will always be bad weather… and there will always be deer.


10 replies on “Deer – My 2nd Worst Enemy”

My dad has a huge problem with this public enemy! He has fences/buzzers and they still come back – nightly! I’m wondering how the human hair would work…..hmmmm! I really enjoy your blog! Thanks for sharing! Perhaps next year I will check out some u-picks and provide a post….too busy with baby # 2

Keep on blogging! 🙂

this has worked best for me over the past 8 years or so .. about 90% effective where i live, in the gardens i maintain ..

in a blender: 1 egg yolk, 1T baking powder, 1 litre of water .. blend .. i use the pulse 9-11 times .. put into a spray bottle .. spray plants .. sometimes, when the deer are particularly hungry, i add a couple of ‘dashes’ of tobasco .. you need to spray, on average, every couple or three weeks .. in aggressive deer times, i spray every week .. it doesn’t matter if it rains before or after you spray .. good luck ..

Another type of fence solutuion that works, if you have the space, is a plastic snow fence. Instead of standing the fence up though you lay it on the grass all around the outside of you garden space. The deer do not like to walk on the fence (probably the sound and it may hook on thier feet) and they will stay out. The benefit is that when it comes time to till your garden in the fall you just roll up the fence and drive the tractor right on in.

Gardeners in the Northwest are using SmartGrow Plugs and Strips to deter deer. The plugs and stripes are made of 100% human hair and the trick is to hang them near the area you want protected and then move them every 2-3 weeks to preclude the deer from “learning” the location of the scent. By the way, in University testing human hair has been proven to be 60%-70% effective in protecting plants from deer predation. However, in a starvation situation, nothing will keep a deer away other than a tall fence.

Also living with deer in Alberta and my best solution is my trusty paintball gun. Just blast them a couple of times and you have weeks of peace. They avoid my acrage and go straight for my neighbors yards…

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