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Man vs. Deer [Let's get practical]

Sunday, April 26, 2009

For homeowners struggling with deer devouring their landscaping, there are few sure-fire solutions, deer management officials say. Among the options homeowners can consider:

Fences. Probably the most reliable (and definitely the most costly) solution, though many homeowners associations have restrictions on them. Fences should be at least eight feet high, with no space underneath.

Commercial and noncommercial repellents. There are many products on the market, often made from rotten eggs or coyote urine, that are designed to repel deer. Home remedies, including soap and packets of clipped human hair, can sometimes work, too. But all repellents lose effectiveness as plants grow, and if deer are hungry enough, they won't care what the plants smell like.

Scare tactics. You can buy devices that make loud noises, squirt water and otherwise frighten them, though deer get used to these.

Defensive landscaping. Avoid planting hostas, azaleas and other plants that deer adore eating. Some better bets are butterfly bush, lilac, catmint, iris and tiger lily.

For more information on deer discouragement strategies, go to these Web sites:

www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/ddmtintro.asp

www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/2008_Deer_Mgmt_Options.pdf

pubs.agnr.umd.edu (click on "lawn, garden and home" and go to "wildlife")

www.deerdamage.org

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