Hardiness Zone: 7a
Mille Woodsi from Alto, N.M.
Sorry to hear about your trees and perennials. If either deer or rabbits are really hungry due to stress from overpopulation or drought, your only defense is a VERY tall fence (at least 8 ft tall for deer) or a fence buried into the ground (at least 6 inches down for rabbits). Because no one method will continue to work forever, an arsenal of inexpensive home remedies is probably your best value. Most gardeners have found home remedies to be at least as effective (if not more effective) than expensive commercial remedies.
As others have noted here, deer detest certain odors. The scent of predators (e.g. human hair, dog hair or fox/coyote urine), and animal proteins (e.g. rotten eggs or bloodmeal) are their two biggest dislikes. There is nothing fancy about animal urine, so if you buy it, buy the most inexpensive product you can find. Some people have also had luck with hanging bars of soap from tree branches or placing soap chips around the base of favored plants. Any strong smelling remedy that repels deer should also work on rabbits. Some gardeners also swear that placing Mason jars 3 feet apart all around their garden repels rabbits. I have no idea why this would work, but anything is worth a try.
I tried a bunch of home recipes and made egg mixes as well as the hair thing with little luck. My dog keeps deer away when she is outside but she is getting old and starting to get slow. I use a blood based repellent I get from my nearby True Value store and have seen the damage to my hostas stop. It's called Repellex and I like it. The downside to the product is it is pretty stinky when applied, but the smell goes away in a day after it dries. It also has a slight red tint from the blood and can be seen on white flowers. The color can't be seen on green plants and the pigment does go away after a week or two also. Give that a try. It seems to work for a long time before I have to reapply it.
Forget about Bloodmeal! I put a pretty thick layer on last night and this morning saw a rabbit eating off the tops of my petunias:-( I chased him off and sprinkled cayenne pepper in the garden and put down shavings of soap. We'll see if that works.
I've attended some very sobering seminars on how to repel deer. Basically, the experts said we are all just planting salad bars for the animals and therefore the population of deer and such are exploding in response to that.
Beside constructing a moat or barrier, it is best to alternate lots of different repellents, both taste & scent. The second valuable thing the expert shared was to be sure that whatever product you used had been okayed by DEC. It was stated that there are lots of small companies selling petroleum-based, homemade products that are not environmentally safe.
We struggle with deer and rabbits too; it's important that you give yourself a fighting chance by at least planting only low-browse risk plants. One seminar the expert showed a picture of blue spruce & cedar that had been gnawed down and destroyed, so if they want to eat it, they will. But at least you can try to have your yard last on the buffet.
You can try putting old shoes around plants/trees. A friend with an orchard puts his families old shoes around the trees, hangs them too....says it works. As far as I can tell, if deer/rabbits are hungry enough, they will disregard anything. Also, once they determine there is no "real" danger, they will disregard your efforts, so have several different things, and alternate their use.
I live out in the country and when we had a garden my husband tied hair in bunches around the garden and it worked even on rabbits and u can go to a hair salon and get it free. We had problems with birds getting the tomatoes
Deer do not like the smell of the protein in eggs. I make a mixture that I have used here on my acreage successfully for years. Mix one beated egg into 4 litres of water. Spray on the plants. This is a simple solution to make up and simply spray on the plants. It will have to be redone immediately after a rain or a heavy dew.
Rabbits...someone said that they do not like the smell of baby powder.
I'm not too sure about repelling rabbits, but eggs and shells do the trick for deer!!! My husband used to work as a lumber broker and one of the huge forestry industrial businesses did extensive research and found that deer HATE the smell of eggs. I usually save my shells and throw them out when I plant my veggie garden. Mix several raw eggs with water and spray around the vegetation after every hard rain. Maybe moth balls would work for the rabbits. They help repel cats.
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