Something ate the new plants. But it wasn't Abby Lab~
Those people think deer and envision Bambi. But having lived out in the country and in the Northwest I see deer and think large wood rat with a rack. Deer are beautiful, in form and function but they are also incredibly destructive.
We lost a few of our newly planted spruce to the rabbits this winter, and I'm going to try my best to keep the deer from eating the rest of them (deer aren't particular fond of spruce but if starving will eat about anything green).
There really is no "deer proof" plant. There are species however that they find less appetizing if given a choice (you know, like turkey bacon). These include purple coneflower (4th photo from the bottom which is ALSO pet safe), thyme, grape Hyacinth, daffodil's, juniper, hawthorn, pinion pine and Douglas fir. For your flowerbeds specifically, they usually won't eat Lady's Mantle, Butterfly Weed, Foxglove, St. John's Wort, Lavender, Daffodil, Poppy and most pungent herbs. Favorites are apple, maple and plum trees, geraniums and tulips.
What I know doesn't work. No Deer Allowed signs. That works about as well as "no guns allowed" in gun free zones.
Things that make noise, like sheets of foil (they get used to it). Dogs, (effective in the day but if the dog is in the house at night sleeping, the deer simply wait until dark. Deer voodoo dolls. Spotlights (they get used to them).
In short, it smells REALLY bad and will last for a while on any clothing you get it on.. Just be careful, when and where you spray, but typically the odor fades to the human nose after a day.. It can also discolor leaves, so spray it around the soil at the base of the plants. Of all the "non green" things I've tried, hands down, it worked the best but I was NOT a fan of the smell at all on day one.
There are also taste repellents. some of which you can make at home, naturally and some which you can buy, such as Tree e Guard®, or the McDonald's Big Mac.
The BEST pet and child safe product is that I've tried and been very pleased with is called "Deer Scram" and it requires no special handling - just use the scoop and sprinkle it around your plants. A totally "green" mixture, formulated out of organic ingredients, Deer Scram forms a protective odor barrier around your plants and shrubs. To humans it smells like a very mild fertilizer (which it is) but it's the "smell of death" to deer (and hungry bunnies don't like it either) and you only have to apply it every 45 days or so. (Normal rainfall actually enhances it's effectiveness).
to order http://www.deerscram.com/
Home-remedy repellents can be questionable at best. Some call for scattering human hair or soap shavings around the plants, or hanging bars of soap and fine mesh bags of hair from the trees, Blair Witch style (replacing both soap and hair bags monthly). Deer have been reported to simply eat the soap bars, and frankly hanging bags of hair from your trees and plants is only going to repel the neighbors (who think you've gone crazy on them and if you've got the freshly slaughtered blood smell wafting from your soil as well from a spray of Playtskydd, you'll find kids won't even come to your house on Halloween any more.)
Materials that work in one area or for one person may not work at all in an area more highly frequented by deer, and there are differences in feeding habits that run state to state.
Netting and Tubing. Tubes of Vexar netting around individual seedlings are an effective method to reduce deer damage to small trees. The material degrades in sunlight and breaks down in three to five years. These tubes can protect just the growing terminals or can completely enclose small trees. Attach tubes to a support stake to keep them upright. Tubes may not protect the trunk from damage when the buck uses the trees to scrape the velvet off of the antlers. A buck in the mood is not going to be deterred by a tube. Another option is flexible, sunlight-degradable netting that expands to slip over seedlings.
Paper or Reemay budcaps. These are used to protect a trees terminal bud during dormant season. They may help reduce browse damage. Budcaps are rectangular pieces of material folded lengthwise and stapled around the terminal leader. These are used most commonly on conifers since deer normally munch on the conifer seedlings in the late fall and early spring when the caps can be installed without interfering with tree growth.
Fencing: Adequate fencing to exclude deer is the only sure way to control deer damage. But don't think the standard fence will do it. Driving down from the Northern part of the state into the city, I pass through a park that is fenced to keep deer out. I've seen a dozen cars hit deer there in the last couple years commuting that way. The deer just pop right over it. A standard deer-proof fence is 8 feet high and made of woven wire.
Some people have luck with tying white plastic shopping bags on the fence every couple of feet. The noise and movement of the plastic bags seems to scare deer and keep them away.
For small gardens and stands of trees (no more than 3 to 4 acres) you can use invisible polypropylene mesh barriers. These are 7 and a half to 8 feet high, UV treated with a high tensile strength that blends in. It comes in rolls 100 to 330 feet long and is attached with hog ring staples to high tension line. The bottom is either staked to the ground or attached to another high tension wire to keep the deer from limbo dancing underneath. Some people use a slanting type deer fence or fortify their electric fences by baiting with peanut butter. Baiting is NOT legal for hunting but it is for teaching a deer what Mr. Fence is all about. The peanut butter will draw them in to a fence/nose encounter (Choosy Mothers Choose . . . Son of a Bitch!) The deer will remember that and will associate the fence with stay the heck away.
If you are in the country and you and your neighbors HAVE NO OUTDOOR PETS- a last resort - the electric fence. Electric fences also can be used if you are dead serious about it. . Electric fences should be of triple-galvanized, high-tensile, 13.5-gauge wire carrying a current of 35 milliamps . Several configurations of electric fences are commonly used: vertical five-, seven-, or nine-wire; slanted seven-wire; single strand; and others.
There are restrictions in many areas as to the use of an electric fence and for good reason. If the fence is legal by local or state statute, there may be restrictions as to purpose, number of strands, size and type of charger (might have to be Less Than Lethal approved), must be inside the perimeter of a mechanical fence, setbacks from property lines and public access, etc. (If electric fences are outlawed only outlaws will have electric fences.) So you should check your local ordinances before purchasing and installing. In any event, when using a single strand electric fence you will want to mark the wire with reflective tape or a cloth strip, something to catch the deers eye. Otherwise they won't see it until they've gone right through it.
Remind yourselves you don't live in Thailand where giant monitor lizards try and enter your home.