Got deer in your garden? Here are some creative and humane ideas from readers to deal with the problem.
Chris Barrett, Westchase, Fla., editor of World of Westchase magazine:
Chris had considered using scent repellents, but the label warns not to apply them if rain is forecast. His neighbor Tom Keller recommended the ScareCrow motion-activated sprinkler.
"It explodes to life when wildlife (or the neighborhood kids) pass in front of it," Chris writes. (Within 35 feet, according to the product description.)
The Contech CRO 101 sprinkler costs less than $50 on Amazon.com. Chris also recommends getting a rechargeable 9-volt battery and charger; he goes through a battery every week.
"My plants are coming back, the deer aren't harmed, my investment has been limited to about $80," he writes.
Suzanne Lehing of Oldsmar, Fla.:
Suzanne read about this super-cheap trick in Southern Living magazine and says it has worked well for her and her neighbors for years.
Start with old socks or pieces of cloth in colors that match those of your plants.
"Add a bar of Irish Spring soap and tie it in," she writes. "Attach to the branches of your plant where it cannot be seen. The deer hate the smell."
This scent repellent actually improves with rain, she says. As the soap slowly dissolves, the fragrance gets stronger.
For small or delicate plants, put the cloth-wrapped bar on the ground, or sprinkle soap shavings on the soil around the plants, she says.
She replenishes her soaps just once a year.
Jean Wilkens of Port Richey, Fla.:
"We lived in Colorado for years and we came home one spring to find evergreen trees eaten up as far as the deer could reach," Jean writes.
Someone suggested she visit a barbershop and ask for a bag of hair cuttings. She did, and decorated her Christmas trees with brunettes, blondes and redheads.
"No more deer trouble," she writes. "They don't like human scent."
Colleen Miller of Apollo Beach, Fla.:
While living in the foothills of Saratoga, Calif., Colleen lost many a plant to her ruminant neighbors.
"Two that they never touched were society garlic, which is very happy in Florida landscapes, and any variety of lavender, which I have seen in our local nurseries but have not seen in a neighborhood landscape," Colleen writes.
Lots of commercial repellents include garlic, and society garlic is most definitely aromatic. It's also beautiful and hearty, a grassy little mound that produces tall stems topped with pale purple blooms. This is one of the easiest plants to grow if you have a sunny, sandy garden. And it's pretty!
As for lavender, that's a bit tougher because many varieties don't tolerate heat or humidity well. Two that seem to do well in Florida are Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas) and the Munstead cultivar (Lavandula angustifolia "Munstead"). Plant in well-draining soil in a sunny spot that gets a break during the hottest part of the afternoon.
Now -- just sit back and enjoy your wildlife! From afar.
Penny Carnathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find more gardening stories and pictures on her blog, www.digginfladirt.com. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service www.scrippsnews.com.