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Deer, widespread across North America – from the deciduous forests of New England to the grasslands of the Midwest, frequently interact with human-inhabited areas, leading to a range of ecological implications. Their voracious feeding habits, including garden plants and apple orchards, can impact residential vegetation.
However, an additional, often overlooked issue arising from a high deer population is the accumulation of deer poop, or ‘pellets,’ in residential yards. This article is an in-depth examination of “how to get rid of deer poop in your yard.” It provides scientifically validated methods to manage this concern to maintain residential yards’ health and overall ecosystem stability.
How to Get Rid of Deer Poop: The Best Methods
When getting rid of deer scat, there are different methods to consider. Always protect yourself, as handling deer poop comes with health risks. Never handle deer poop with your bare hands. Always wear plastic gloves or protective gear when removing deer droppings from your yard.
One of the easiest ways to manage deer feces in your yard is to simply pick it up. Using a plastic bag, similar to dog owners picking up pet waste, is the most direct method. However, if you have a large yard or a severe deer problem, you will have to find ways to deter the deer from entering your yard in the first place.
Another approach is to compost the deer feces. Deer droppings, like any fecal matter, contain nutrients that can benefit the earth. With the proper composting practices and adhering to the National Organic Program guidelines, deer waste can be transformed into beneficial soil for your garden. This method, however, should be used with caution due to the potential presence of harmful bacteria and pests.
How to Deter Deer from Your Yard
While learning how to get rid of deer poop in your yard is important, an ideal solution is deterring deer from your yard altogether. If deer don’t visit your yard, they can’t leave their droppings behind. Several effective strategies can keep deer at bay, reducing the deer feces problem and the associated deer damage to your vegetation.
Avoid Over-Stocking Your Garden With Tasty Plants
Deer are voracious feeders, especially during spring when they’re nursing their fawns and looking to regain the weight lost during winter. Consider the types of plants you have in your garden. Growing large amounts of deer-favorite plants like English ivy, lettuces, beans, peas, hostas, impatiens, pansies, and fruit trees can make your yard a prime target for deer.
Instead, opt for deer-resistant plants:
Keep Deer-Favorite Plants Close to the House
If you can’t resist growing plants that deer love, keep them close to the house. Doing so lets you easily keep tabs on the plant’s progress and ensure it doesn’t become a deer’s meal. Planting pungent plants can also help deter deer from your yard.
Plant Pungent Perennials as a Natural Barrier
Deer heavily rely on their sense of smell for feeding. Adding patches of strongly scented herbs like garlic, chives, mint, and lavender can mask the appealing aroma of nearby annuals and make your backyard less appetizing than your neighbors.
Plant Thorny, Hairy, or Prickly Foliage
While deer’s sense of smell trumps touch when deciding what to eat, they are bothered by certain textures mid-meal. Incorporating plants with fuzzy, thorny, or prickly textures like lamb’s ear, barberries, and cleome near the plants you want to protect can help deter deer from your garden.
Make Deer-Resistant Substitutions
Consider trading plants that deer love for those that they tend to avoid. For example, swap tulips for daffodils, which are more deer-resistant. Similarly, particularly thorny pick roses, such as Scotch or rugosa roses.
Create Visual Barriers
Plant large, sprawling deer-repellent varieties such as thick hedges of boxwoods or short needle spruces around your garden’s borders. If deer can’t see what’s inside, they’re less likely to enter your property.
Trim tall grasses to deter bedding deer and pick fruits once they’re ripe. This not only prevents attracting deer but also maintains the aesthetics and cleanliness of your yard.
Create Levels in Your Yard
Deers aren’t avid climbers, so adding terraces or sunken beds can discourage them from entering the yard. Consider stacking pallets around your property, which deer are afraid to walk or jump on.
Scare Them Away
As neophobes, deer fear new, unfamiliar objects. Therefore, garden ornaments, especially those with movable parts, make deer skittish. Use them combined with wind chimes, bright lights, or loud noises to keep deer out of your yard.
You can try ultrasonic animal repellents to scare deer away:
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- Odorless to Humans – Though the scent is easily…
- Weatherproof Housing – The rugged housing is…
- Safe for Vegetable Gardens – The repellent is…
- Helpful tool: air moving through the deer whistle…
- Deer whistles for vehicles no need wiring,…
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- Quality animal alert: deer whistles for car made…
Fencing is the most effective method of exclusion. Ensure fences are at least 8 feet high with no more than 6-inch by 6-inch gaps. Electric fences, which can be put up during the peak feeding seasons of early spring and late fall, are another effective option.
Wrap New Plantings
Wrapping new plantings is a valuable tool that can help protect your plants from being damaged by deer and other garden pests. This method is especially useful in the early stages of growth when plants are most vulnerable to deer damage. Deer are voracious feeders, and their feeding habits can be detrimental to young plants, especially during the mating season when food sources are crucial for their survival.
There are different methods you can employ to wrap your new plantings effectively. One such method involves using a netting or mesh material. These are often made from plastic or metal and come in different sizes to accommodate various types of plants. The netting should be placed over the plants and securely fastened to the ground using stakes or weights. This will create a physical barrier that prevents deer from reaching the plants.
Tree protectors or plastic tree wraps can be used for fruit trees and bushes. These wraps are designed to fit around the tree trunks, offering protection against deer and other animals that may be attracted to the bark or fruit of the trees. This is particularly useful for apple trees and other fruit-bearing plants that can become a common sight for deer roaming in a backyard adjacent to a wooded area.
Similarly, bulbs can be protected using specially designed bulb cages. These are placed in the ground before the bulbs are planted, and the bulb is planted inside the cage. The cage allows the plant to grow through but prevents larger animals from digging up and eating the bulbs.
Remember that while netting and wraps can effectively protect your plants, they should be checked regularly for any signs of wear and tear or damage from the elements. They should also be removed carefully at the end of the season to avoid damaging the plants.
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A Deep Dive into Deer Repellent
When managing unwanted visits from deer in your yard, one of the most effective tools at your disposal is deer repellent. But how does it work? What ingredients make it, and how should you apply it? This section will cover everything you need to know about deer repellents.
How Does Deer Repellent Work?
Deer repellents work based on two primary principles: smell and taste. The majority of deer repellents produce a scent that deer find distasteful. As deer have a keen sense of smell, they will likely avoid areas where these repellents are applied.
Taste-based deer repellents are applied directly to plants. When a deer nibbles on a treated plant, they find the taste unpleasant and learn to avoid those plants in the future.
What’s in Deer Repellent?
Most deer repellents contain a combination of ingredients to make them smell and taste unattractive to deer. These often include putrescent egg solids, garlic, capsaicin (the compound that makes peppers hot), and sometimes, essential oils from plants that deer naturally avoid. These ingredients are mixed with a carrier substance like water or oil and a bonding agent to help the repellent stick to surfaces.
Deer are naturally timid creatures and will avoid anything that makes them uncomfortable or frightened. Two unconventional yet potentially effective methods to deter deer are kitty litter and pepper spray. While not the most orthodox methods, they can be valuable tools against deer damage to your garden or yard.
One approach involves using kitty litter. Deer have a highly developed sense of smell, which they use for everything from finding food to detecting danger. The scent of a predator can be a powerful deterrent for deer. Used kitty litter, which contains the scent of a predator (in this case, your cat), can therefore be used to discourage deer from entering your garden or yard.
To use this method, you can sprinkle used kitty litter around the perimeter of your yard, particularly near bedding areas or places where you’ve noticed deer damage. The smell should deter the deer and make them think twice about venturing into your yard. As a bonus, the kitty litter will eventually break down and add nutrients to your soil, making it a form of organic deer repellent. However, please ensure that your kitty litter is non-toxic and safe for the environment.
Another method involves the use of homemade pepper spray. Capsaicin, the compound that makes peppers hot, irritates many animals, including deer. You can make a simple, homemade deer repellent using a mixture of water and hot peppers.
Here’s a basic pepper spray Deer Repellent recipe:
1. Blend a half dozen dried hot peppers (the hotter, the better) with two cups of water in a blender until it’s a mash.
2. Let this mixture sit overnight.
3. Strain the mixture into a spray bottle, then fill the rest with water.
4. Add a couple of drops of dish soap (this helps the mixture stick to the plants).
Spray this homemade repellent on the foliage of vulnerable plants. The pepper spray will cause an unpleasant burning sensation when the deer directly touches the sprayed plants. It’s a non-harmful way of teaching deer that your garden isn’t a comfortable dining place.
Remember to reapply the spray after rain, as it can easily be washed off. And be sure to wear gloves and avoid contact with your eyes when preparing and applying the spray, as it can irritate your skin and eyes.
If you’d like to opt for premade deer spray, try these bestsellers:
How and When is Deer Repellent Applied?
Deer repellents are typically sold as concentrates that must be mixed with water or ready-to-use sprays. To apply, spray the repellent directly onto the plants and areas you want to protect. It’s important to spray all parts of the plant, especially the leaves, as deer are less likely to munch on thoroughly coated plants.
The best time to apply deer repellent is in the morning or evening when the temperature is cooler. Applying during the day’s heat can cause the repellent to evaporate quickly, reducing its effectiveness.
Deer repellents should be reapplied every few weeks or after heavy rain. Remember, it’s best to use deer repellent early in the season before deer have established a feeding pattern in your yard.
What Plants Should You Spray?
Deer especially love plants like hostas, daylilies, and certain vegetables like beans and peas. Fruit trees and bushes, roses, and many types of shrubs are also high on their list.
However, before applying any repellent, read the product’s label. Some plants may be sensitive to the ingredients in certain repellents.
Understanding Deer and Their Habits
It’s important to understand the habits and biology of deer to keep them out of your yard. Deer are most active during dawn and dusk, with bedding areas often found in thickets or wooded areas. Their diets are pretty varied, and during the mating season, male deer can be especially problematic due to their increased activity.
Deer droppings, also known as deer pellets, are common in areas where deer roam. The droppings are often found in piles, and their frequency can indicate the size of the local deer population. They are particularly fond of apple trees and flower beds, leading to a serious problem of deer damage and piles of deer droppings in those areas.
The Issue with Deer Poop
Deer poop itself is not typically harmful to your lawn or garden and can actually be used as a natural fertilizer, but it can potentially cause a “fertilizer” burn. Deer poop may also contain seeds from the plants the deer has been eating. If these seeds are from invasive or unwanted species, they could germinate and grow in your lawn or garden.
Moreover, deer feces could potentially carry diseases harmful to humans or pets. Deer can be carriers of certain types of ticks that transmit Lyme disease, and their feces can contain other parasites like giardia or cryptosporidium. It’s generally a good idea to avoid direct contact with deer feces and wash your hands thoroughly if you have to handle it.
So, while deer feces might not cause too much damage to your lawn, the overall impact of having deer regularly visit your yard could have negative effects.
If you have issues with ticks because of your deer problem, read our review of our favorite tick and mosquito products.
Last update on 2023-12-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API