Keeping wildlife from feasting on your yard’s plants

Published on Fri, 10/27/2017 - 10:57am

Shoo! Scat! Vamoose!

Deer and other wildlife can be adorable—especially when looking at photos on Facebook. But in the real world, wildlife can be a destructive nuisance. There’s nothing cute about a wild animal that habitually devours your carefully cultivated landscape plants.

What do you do when rabbits and deer start treating your yard like a private salad bar? You fight back! No, not with firearms—although many are often tempted. Basically, you have three non-fatal choices: be so annoying that wildlife choose to go elsewhere; make otherwise delicious greens and succulents unpalatable; and erect a barrier.

Old-school remedies using solutions of garlic powder and cayenne sometimes work for a while, but scarecrows are easily ignored, and waist-high fences can be breached from above or below. So what works? There is a new generation of wildlife control devices now available.

Systemic repellent
To keep deer and rabbits from munching on landscape plants, try an eco-friendly deterrent made from natural ingredients that won’t harm animals or the environment. For example, Repellex Systemic Granular delivers a hot pepper concentrate through plant roots, making plants unpalatable to animals. Because the active compound is protected inside the plant cells, it doesn’t wash off in the rain or degrade in sunlight. Long-lasting, repellent efficacy is maintained because the compound is evenly distributed throughout the plant.

It is easily applied, too. You rake the granular product in the soil around the plants you want to protect. The repellent compound dissolves during watering and enters through the roots, spreading gradually throughout the plant. The natural pepper extract is distributed evenly throughout the plant, so that all parts remain protected. Depending on the health and size of the plant, this can take as little as a week or as long as a month. (A foliar spray may be used during this period for plant protection.)

Repellex Systemic Granular is not intended to be used on edible plants, and the product is not available to consumers in California.

A 1.5-pound container sells for $17.99 or a bottle of 50 pre-measured Repellex Systemic tablets is $19.99 at local home centers, garden center stores.

Motion-activated pest control
The Solar Yard Gard is a solar-powered ultrasonic pest control device that uses sound waves to keep deer, squirrels, raccoons, rodents, skunks and other animals away from your landscape plants. Humans can’t hear the high-frequency sound emitted by the Solar Yard Gard, but animals can hear it and keep away.

Because it is solar-powered, you simply set up the device in a sunny area. The ultrasonic waves are activated when the motion detector senses an animal, generating ultrasonic waves that irritate and annoy them so they seek calmer, untreated areas. One device will protect up to 3,000 square feet of landscape, and additional units for larger areas.

The Solar Yard Gard sells for $49 at many hardware stores.

Predator scents repel deer
If animals think something could eat them, they’ll keep away. Summit Deer Ban repellent capsules trick deer into thinking that a predator is nearby. Each Deer Ban capsule contains predator urine that triggers a deer’s animal flight response.

Deer Ban uses a unique gel-tablet application to provide effective, year-round protection from wildlife damage. Setting up an olfactory barrier is easy. You just set out the capsules on the ground every 5 to 10 feet around the plants you want to protect, then water the capsules to release the active ingredient. When activated by water, the polymer gel releases the scent of predator urine for up to 90 days. Deer Ban is odorless to humans, and your hands never touch the active ingredient.

Unlike many deer repellents that wash away and become ineffective after rain, water actually enhances the effectiveness of Deer Ban because the polymer gel absorbs water to release the active ingredient. The biodegradable Deer Ban will continue to be reactivated by rain or watering for up to three months.

A packet of 20 Deer Ban capsules is available from the manufacturer for $13.99; additional sizes may also be available from hardware stores and home centers.

Fence the deer out
The longest-lasting solution to a deer problem is sometimes a trusty fence. Tenax fencing features thick rounded tensile strands that will resist the stretching and sagging that may occur with time in similar fence material. Tenax deer fencing has a breaking load of 650 pounds and a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years. A 100-foot roll of 8-foot-tall plastic mesh fencing sells for about $135.

Fence kits are also available that include everything needed to assemble a basic enclosure around a garden or property, including one roll of weather-resistant fencing, heavy duty line posts, ties and stakes. Use a kit to make a small enclosure, add to an existing fence, or combine this kit with another. Poly fence kits are available in deer-unfriendly heights of 6’, 7.5’, and 8’, and lengths of 100’, 300’, and 330’.

For more information
Repellex Systemic Granular—  repellex.com
Solar Yard Gard—  bird-x.com
Summit Deer Ban—  summitresponsiblesolutions.com
Tenex deer fencing—  deerbusters.com