02 Mar Deer Repellent – Is There a Best?
Deer Repellent – Is there a best?
When it comes to spraying for deer grazing, we like to say, “start early, spray often”. But is there a deer repellent product of choice? At NoVa Deer Shield we do have our favorite deer repellents. However, we do not use just one.
Deer repellents use a couple of basic approaches when it comes to keeping deer from eating your favorite plants. Typically they involve exclusion (fencing), smell, or taste; and some combine both smell and taste.
What are smell deer repellents?
Smell repellents do just what they say. They provide a smell that is not attractive to deer. However, this means that some of them also provide a smell that is NOT appealing to humans. Prior to starting my business, I used these products in my yard. While these can be effective, I would not have started a business using those every day, all day long. Most of these products have a predator scent, putrescent (rotten) egg base or a strong herbal smell (garlic, mint, cinnamon).
Smell repellents work because deer naturally do not like certain smells. You may have noticed that deer leave your more aromatic plants alone – geraniums, mint. These products are good in the summer months but during cold months smell is depressed and they are less effective.
What are taste deer repellents?
Taste deterrents require the deer to taste your beautiful plant to find it is not to their liking. These repellents usually use capsaicin – a chemical found in hot peppers. Over time, taste repellents train deer that they do not like your plants, and they start to avoid them.
Another thing to consider when choosing your repellent is how easy is it to use? Most repellents require mixing but does it clog the sprayer? Or need constant agitation? Sprayers need constant attention – washing not only the tank but the bits in the handle and wand. We always take our equipment out to clean it after each day of use.
When considering which product to use we consider the season. We also like to change the products we use just to confuse the deer. In spring, when it is typically rainy, we try to use a product that is rain resistant. As the summer approaches, we may switch to a different product – though there is argument that latex-based repellents help with water evaporation in plants. When it is hot and/or sunny we monitor our choices to avoid burning plants which can happen from oil-based repellents. We believe by varying our approach deer do not become familiar with the environment they are approaching and over time will avoid the area all together.
Using a variety of products tends to be highly effective. We do find that the real key is in “training” the deer that you do not have anything in your landscape that is tasty. This requires a strict regimen of starting applications as soon as the plants or new growth is emerging. After that spray often! Most products will tell you a longer period than I recommend.
Finding a good deer repellent is trial and error. Maintaining your equipment is vital. Spraying is very time consuming. Sometimes it is just best to call the professionals – call us! We have a special in March.
View our deer repellent offerings for spring here.