At this level they're
living with you. When you look out during the day you see them
sleeping and they're in the yard all night checking out the plant
material. At this level we've had oleanders and buckeyes eaten.
Redwoods and other conifers have been pushed out of the ground by
the bucks cleaning their antlers. All the plants on the other
deer lists are gone in a night.
In the nursery we got
to this level for a month at the end of a 7 year drought. We
found the only way we could keep the deer off of the plants was a
7 foot fence, combined with a motion detector. We got so we
recognized the different deer that were 'regulars' on the nursery
site. The healthy 'regulars' that had lived in the area their
whole lives never gave us much problems. Deer are fairly smart
and will learn fast which side of the fence doesn't have a crazy
person in his underwear running around screeching at them.
We have experienced
some problems with deer that had been forced out of their
habitat. Most deer do not range further than a mile from where
they were born. When the drought removed their water source they
became disoriented and desperate. When deer get this desperate
you are going to have problems.
Do not expect bars of
soap or hair to protect your plants. Your yard may be stripped.
All the other wives tales do not work either.
We found that in our
situation we had to put in a fence they couldn't easily climb, or
crawl under and a motion detector that was connected with an
intercom so I was awakened when a deer went to eat the plants.
Before I did these two, I had to sleep in the pots.
The deer fence
doesn't have to be a fort, simple is often better. If you have a
slope you can get a by with a much lower fence. We have one
section that is next to a 45% slope that has 3 foot of orchard
fence (3 X 4 inch weave) with two strands of barbed wire above it
making a 4' fence. They have never jumped it. They have jumped
our 7' fence only once that I know of and that was a large buck.
(It took him several tries.) They love to crawl under things like
gates. We've had them crawl under a gate with a 5" gap.
In this situation
we've had some plants completely removed. One buck ate 400
Fremontodendrons in one night. They apparently hate Baccharis
because they would come through and pull out 100+ each night and
spit the plants out next to the pots. Didn't eat them, just spit
First thing to do is
stop watering as fast a possible. Watering doesn't allow the
plant to form protective resins (and a few other things) and will
make a normally stinky leaved plant, like elderberry, odorless
and edible (to the deer).
In these sites we
advise the customer to try a few of these plants to see if they
pass the 'test'.
greggii, Cat claw Acacia A well armed shrub-tree that has
yellow flowers. They eat new growth only.
californica, Indigo Bush A deciduous shrub that slowly
grows to 4-5'. Deep purple flowers. Native on the property. The
deer have never touched.
pilularis 'Pigeon Point', Dwarf Coyote Brush If you cover
it for the first year with chicken wire so the deer can not pull
the plants up. Plant gallons 8 foot apart and you should have a
flat ground cover (really flat if you have deer) in about 2-3
'Blue Jeans', Holly leaf mountain lilac has been deer
proof on all but one site to date. It grows to 3-4 foot tall and
4 foot wide. It has bright blue flowers on dark green foliage. If
heavily watered or in rich soils deer resistance is lowered.
'Mills Glory', Holly Leaved California Mountain Lilac has
been deer proof on all sites. It has dark green foliage and blue
flowers on a 3' tall and 6' wide.
has been deer proof on all sites.
It has white flowers on a green holly-leaved 3' tall shrub that
grows to 6' across.
species, Cypress. The deer don't seem to eat this at all.
However they do like to scratch their antlers on them. Drive 3
T-posts next to these after they get 4-5' tall for full deer
species, Monkey flowers The monkey flowers have not been
eaten to date.Very deer resistance.
glaucus, Seaside daisy. 'Wayne Roderick' seems to be
deer proof on most sites. Other forms have varied from never
being touched (Cape Sebastian) to never having more than a bump on the stem.
The native ferns seem to be safe.
species. They have not eaten these plants on sites
with as many as 14 deer bedding on the site. They have eaten the
non-native ones. Unknown if safe on sites where they are not
native. They do not bother them in the nursery either.
species, Butterfly Mint. A little perennial with pink or
purple flowers. Scented like a mint.
douglasii, Yerba Buena. This one will be deer proof if
you let it become summer dormant. It makes a fragrant, low
growing ground cover.
sempervirens, Coast Redwood. Same as cypress
giganteum, Giant-Sequoia. Same as cypress