The battle of wits between gardeners and deer continues this year unabated. Since the local towns continue to develop every square inch of land, the deer have no choice but to wander through town, foraging. Something needs to be done to control the deer population. In many respects I’d prefer that the towns stop developing all the land. Since that development does often help lower my property taxes I admit to a little support for the concept. But I was born and raised here and am astounded at how brazen the wildlife has become, been forced to become. This year we are all commenting on the huge increase in rabbits. I can only defend my property against the deer. They are big and easier to block. I concede the ground routes to the rabbits, ground hogs, possums, raccoons and whatever else figures out the back way to my garden. My most sincere apologies to my neighboring cat because her catnip has ended up behind the net. I hope she figures out she can get to it the long way around.
I am, however, holding my own against the deer. Last year, Ahuva Net 2.0, saw me purchase deer netting (Vigaro Deer Block, 7 ft x 100 ft) and bamboo poles. It worked, but the way I set it up also kept ME from getting to the plants. 🙂 This year I resolved to tackle that issue. I also didn’t like the way I attached the netting – I threaded the poles through the nets. That was tricky. I decided to switch to 6′ tall plastic stakes for securing the net in front of the in-ground front bed. I decided to start there and see how it worked out before trying to protect the planters along the front walk.
The plastic stakes were much sturdier than the bamboo which made getting them into the ground securely simpler as well. Last year I put up one continuous wall of netting. This year I planned to cut the netting into segments, defined by the plastic stakes. I taped the netting to one pole securely (Gorilla water-proof tape). I cut the segment to slightly overlap the next pole and then used binder clips to attach that side to the pole. *laughing* Hey, I have a TON of binder clips and they were the right size and handy. I wasn’t sure it was even going to work so I didn’t want to go buy some other kind of clip while I was still in “beta” mode. Because I was doing it in segments I could follow the outline of the garden more closely than I could last year. It also enabled me to wrap around the side and then put a segment blocking side access to the front. Dealing with the netting is truly annoying. It catches on everything, I’m short and trying to get it high enough is difficult, and it was in many ways very frustrating. Ultimately however it worked, it is working and it’s doing exactly what I hoped. Nothing in that front garden has been munched or chomped. Several times now I have unclipped a segment to add plants (my seedlings) and to do a little cleanup. It took several hours to get that front ‘wall’ built but hey – I’m retired now. *grin* I HAVE several hours. I confess that even though I went slowly and rested, it was exhausting.
Protecting the big planters I use to line my walk needed a different approach. They need protection front, back and from the top. Originally I thought I’d drive the supporting posts into my lawn and drape the netting from there. I realized almost immediately that it would work better if the posts were in the pots themselves. The pots are large and deep, so there was sufficient depth. It was difficult to drive the posts into the lawn in that area, and they were much lower if they were in the lawn than if they were in the pots. In the past I’ve put all those pots on rolling bases so that I could move them easily to get to the lawn or rearrange them. I decided that this year I was going to eliminate the bases and put the pots directly on the walk. That actually made them easier to manage, not more difficult. The next issue was how to cover the top and the side.
I’d get a straight side of netting down the “back” along the lawn, but the “front” along the walk needed to have some way to keep the net off the plants. Measuring from one side of the pots up, over and down the other side was roughly 13′. The netting is only 7′. I rotated my approach. I ended up with 3 13′ segments of netting, overlapping so that nothing could get between the ‘joins’ of the segments. I anchored them with garden staples. I couldn’t manage the net segments by myself. 😦 I’m too short and they catch too much. My husband came out to help me drape the net. Working together we figured out the best way to keep the netting from tangling. He’s tall enough with a sufficient arm span that he could spread the net wide across the plants. Once the segments were spread I could anchor them with binder clips and garden stakes. The garden stakes drive the net down to the soil of the pots while the clips are holding it to the poles and to the rims of the pots. It seems to be doing what I expected and I am able to detach it to get underneath to pull weeds. I regret that the plants are not accessible to flying creatures, but unless and until I figure out how to build a side wall along the walk, the only way to keep the deer out is a top net.
I finished up by rearranging all my herbs and vegetables. I have a small section of tomato plants and herbs protected by the netting. It starts at the last pole of the front garden and is in segments, with the supports again in the pots. There is a break between this section and the pots along the walk so that I can cut through with the hose. Since I only need to protect one side I don’t need to drape the top and I get the full 7′ height. I moved my most aromatic herbs in front of the porch beds: lemon balm, rosemary, oregano, sage and chives. The word is that deer don’t like plants with strong odors. My personal belief is that the deer are going to eat whatever they can find because they are hungry. For the time being those plants are NOT netted, but the arrangement is such that if I’m forced to protect them I can put up more netting.
I really like this approach – the Vigoro deer block – because it does NOT block the view of the flowers. I was amused while I was putting it up by the folks who came by and commented on my activity. Most of them did not realize that the netting was already up in front of the front bed. I’d point out to them that they didn’t notice the net because they could see the plants so easily – our eyes just discount the netting they way they discount the screen when we look out a window. I do think that the netting along the front walk is more noticeable (since it’s front, back and top) but I’m hopeful that once the flowers are in full bloom that is what gets noticed. I must have shown the Vigoro package to 4 or 5 passerbys who all got excited about this method to protect THEIR plants. 🙂 Deer Wars. 🙂