Minimize deer damage to gardens

Published 2:01 am Saturday, April 28, 2012

As spring arrives many Mississippians are planting gardens and working hard to beautify their property however, white-tailed deer find many garden and landscape plants appealing and often can force gardeners to battle for their prized plants.

To manage the problem the Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries & Parks suggests a few tips that might save plants this spring and summer.

First, consider eliminating the supplemental feeding of deer near the lawn or garden. Supplemental feeding can attract and hold deer in an area and subsequently increase the potential damage to vegetation around the feeding area.

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Second, deer repellents, such as liquid scents, perfumes and even human hair, might work well for a time, but deer might become accustomed to these scents over time. This period of effectiveness is much briefer when the garden or lawn is located within a city, suburb or any area where human activity is constant. It is important to change scents weekly to maintain these repellents’ effectiveness.

Direct spraying of plants with capsaicin, the chemical that makes peppers “hot,” tends to work well, but must be performed frequently, as rain and dew will wash it away. This practice can be easily done by soaking ground hot pepper in water overnight and spraying this water on the plants.

Lastly, electric fencing can be effective, especially when two fences are installed, with one fence being 5 feet inside the other. However, electric fences require daily inspection and maintenance and should be used only in rural settings.

Homeowners should remain vigilant and use a combination of these methods to enjoy the fruits of lawns and garden labor. While these methods can be effective, the most effective method to reduce deer damage is through safe and legal harvest during the hunting season.

For information regarding deer or deer hunting opportunities in Mississippi, visit or call 601-432-2199.