Landscape Notes, Deer Repellents
by Mike Groenewald
As you all know the bucks are feeling frisky this time of year and their hormones have them on the move and ready for some fun in November. And tree planters know the unfortunate consequence of rutting season; bucks polish their antlers on many species of young trees. Now is the time to apply repellents if you wish to do so because once their patterns are set, it is difficult to break them of the rubbing habit during October and November.
In 2009, I ran across an article that covers the whole gamut of fencing and repellents to protect trees and crops from deer damage. I thought the section on repellents might be especially useful to some of you. The article offers a very concise summary and product cost for several repellents such as: Deer-Away, Hinder, Thiram, Miller’s Hot Sauce, Ropel, Hair Bags, and Bar Soap. I know many of our Park Superintendents have tried these products with limited success. This article on Deer Damage Management can be found on a Cooperative Extension Website, published in partnership with 74 universities in the United States. Here is the address: www.extension.org/pages/Deer_Damage_Management.
Another online resource I found may be of some help to learn about the various repellents that are available. Deer repellent reviews, available at
Another online resource I found may be of some help to learn about the various repellents that are available. Deer repellent reviews, available at http://outoutdeer.com/deer-repellent-reviews/, list many products with their ingredients and other project information. However, I found no endorsements listed for the products that I checked.
One of the dilemmas of using repellents is that most need re-application after a rain. We did find two products listed in our catalogs that are rain fast within 24 hours. “Liquid Fence” will last for a full month or for a rain up to 4 inches. “Plantskydd Repellent” lasts up to 4 months during the growing season or up to six months over winter. These products are available from A.M. Leonard, Horticultural Tool & Supply Company, and they will sell to retail customers with credit card payment.
If you have high value trees to protect, the only guaranteed method we have found is to install wire enclosures around each tree. A three foot diameter circle of four to five foot concrete re-mesh wire supported by two metal T-posts will defend against antlered deer. Adding a three foot high circle of one-inch poultry wire around the bottom of the completed cage will also deter rabbits. Materials for each unit costs around $15, but they last forever and can be moved to other trees as needed.
If you have tried any of the various repellents mentioned in this article, possibly you could email me a short report on the effectiveness of the products and methods you have tried. Then, I could summarize those findings and share them with those of you on my mailing list. Then we can all be better educated about protecting the trees we plant.