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Skaggs: Dealing with deer in the landscape

POSTED: October 21, 2010 11:30 p.m.

Throughout the year, the Extension office receives many complaints from gardeners of unwanted critters visiting their landscapes - namely deer. As we move into fall and winter, deer browsing becomes even more commonplace. Pansies, azaleas, camellias, and many other plants are the targets of deer feeding.

Across Georgia, the reports of deer making themselves at home in urban and suburban settings continue to increase due to natural areas being replaced by managed grounds. Nuisance deer are difficult to control in residential communities.

While hunting season is open, shooting is not an option for those of us living in subdivisions and neighborhoods, and many citizens are opposed to this method of control.

Planting ornamental plants that deer do not like to eat is a solution to deer browsing. Please remember, though, that very few plants are totally deer-resistant. When deer populations are high and food is scarce, deer are more likely to feed on ornamentals.

Deer prefer tender new foliage on newly-planted ornamentals and those fertilized to produce lush new growth. Buck deer may also cause considerable damage to young trees by rubbing them with their antlers.

Repellents will not stop antler rubbing.

There are a number of commercially available repellents on the market. Contact repellents are applied to the plants, causing them to taste bad, and sensory repellents are applied in the problem area and repel due to their foul odor. The following is a sampling of the many deer and wildlife repellents available: PlantSkydd, Hinder, Liquid Fence, Ropel, Deer-Stopper, Bitrix and Bio-Defend.

If you're considering adding ornamental plants to your landscape this fall, here are a few that are known to have above-average deer tolerance. (In other words, deer are not likely to feed on them.)
Annuals: vinca, moss verbena, blue fan flower, marigold, lantana and Mexican sunflower.

Perennials: artemesia, Shasta daisy, Mexican heather, swamp sunflower, blue salvia, ‘Miss Huff' lantana, sedum, purple coneflower, black-eyed susan, blackberry lily, bee balm, lily of the valley and blue star amsonia.

Shrubs: quince, abelia, plum yew, bottlebrush buckeye, snowball viburnum, barberry, butterfly bush and mock orange.

Trees: deodar cedar, Kousa dogwood, bald cypress, chastetree, goldenraintree, ‘Yoshino' cryptomeria, sugar maple, red cedar and crape myrtle.

Billy Skaggs is an agricultural agent and Hall County extension coordinator. Phone: 770-531-6988. Fax: 770-531-3994.


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