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South Central Gardening: Thwarting the Garden Grazers

Here are some tips to keep your garden from becoming a buffet for deer, rabbits, snails, slugs, coyotes, and more.

Rabbit

Cute, isn’t she? Socks is my daughter’s bunny, but . . . note the little pink tongue and the wily glance.

Imagine it’s an early spring morning, and you enter the garden expecting tranquility and birdsong. Instead you find nipped tomato plants, and lettuces eaten to the ground. Socks’ wild cousins have been browsing your salad bar. Then you see holes in the hostas and the telltale imprint of a deer hoof in your flower bed. Before you become discouraged and launch your weeder at a squirrel, let’s discuss ways to prevent plant decimation.

1. Pecan hulls help avert slug and snail damage. The little critters don’t like crawling across jagged edges. Sluggo®, based on a natural iron phosphate, also works.

2. Netting on fruit trees discourages deer and birds.

3. Fencing.To stop bunnies, 90 percent of my garden is fenced with chicken wire attached to split rail. Deer could easily jump my fence, but for some reason they don’t. However, in many parts of the country, like Texas, electric fencing is often used.

4. Natural predators. Coyotes keep the deer, rabbits and other varmints in check, and I also have a large dog.

5. Deer-resistant plants. Grow sage; salvia; crossvine; most herbs, like lavender and oregano; or anything prickly or strongly scented. A daylily hybridizer I know planted tall grasses around her garden to discourage deer, and it worked because they don’t like to jump where they can’t see. It was also attractive.

6. Scent deterrents also work, but you must spray them regularly and you shouldn’t use the same type repeatedly. Animals become used to the smell.

These are just a few suggestions. Try a couple and keep your garden from becoming a buffet.

See more South Central Gardening Articles.