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How to Manage Garden Pests: The Deer Dilemma

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Deer are gorgeous creatures that play a vital role in many of the ecosystems in North America, but unfortunately their presence in many home gardens has turned them into garden pests and sadly, unwelcome visitors.

The lack of natural vegetation and easy access to tasty greens from your veggie bed have driven generations of deer to source their sustenance from vegetable patches in towns and cities, especially those close to mountainous areas. Use our 6 tips to learn how to manage these garden pests in a non harmful yet efficient way.

1. Coffee Grounds
Deer are often turned off by unsightly odors, and the smell of coffee grounds can deter a picky deer from poking her nose into your garden beds. Adding coffee grounds can also keep other pests such as slugs and snails at bay, helps fix nitrogen into your soil, and acts as an acidifying agent for plants that thrive in acidic soil (e.g. most berry plants, artichokes).

2. Bonemeal & Dog Hair
Adding bonemeal or dog hair to your garden is effective for spooking creatures such as deer and rabbits. Deer have an extremely sensitive sense of smell, and even the smell of dried blood or the offensive smell of another creature's hair can cause them to stay away. Sprinkle bonemeal or dog hair in your garden beds generously, but avoid getting any bonemeal on the leaves of your plants, as the high nitrogen content can actually burn them.

3. Soap
For some reason, which has yet to be scientifically explained, deer are offended by the smell of soap. The easiest way to use soap as a deer deterrent is to place a few bars in a mesh bag, tie it up and hang it about 1 foot above your plants.

4. Plants
Deer are not fond of certain plants especially the following ones: mullein, mints, sage, lemongrass and lemon balm, ferns, many ornamental grasses and any spicy and pungent plants such as peppers. Plant these around your garden as a pretty border that also acts as a barrier.

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From the Organic Authority Files

5. Built Barriers
An electric fence is one choice for deer that will not stay away any other way - just make sure to be careful with children or pets running around the fence when charged! Cages for trees or bushes that you want to protect are often an effective barrier, whereas netting can work better for vegetable beds or berry patches.

6. Scare Tactics
Old CD's, aluminum pie tins and anything that makes a glimmering flash if it catches even the slightest bit of light can work to scare deer away. A well trained guard dog is another effective option!

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