Deer and roses are often angrily mentioned in the same sentence if you live in the country and enjoy rose growing. While no method is fool proof there are several easily employed deterrents to keep deer from using your roses as a nighttime salad bar. These tips can be used individually or combined to provide a higher level of deterrence.
The easiest and least expensive tips for keeping deer away from your rose garden involve the use of commonly found household and store items. However, these methods are temporary and the effect only lasts for a week at most, or until you get a hard rain, whichever comes first. These methods only work if youíre persistent and donít mind repeated applications of some of the following items.
Human hair is supposed to repel deer from rose bushes. You can collect hair from beauty salons or barber shops for free and sprinkle the hair around the perimeter of your rose bed with a small amount put on the roses themselves for good measure. Deer donít like the smell thatís given off by the hair clippings and assume that a human is in fact in the rose bed. After about a week or a good rain the human odor will have dissipated enough that the scent will have disappeared and youíll have to repeat with a new application of human hair clippings.
Deodorant soap is also disliked by deer. This has a short term effect as well. With this method you would purchase whatever the cheapest deodorant soap is at your local store in bar form. Cut the soap into chunks and then place them around the perimeter of your rose bed. Donít place the pieces of bar soap on the roses or their roots or this could damage your plants. If you were extra industrious you could combine the soap and human hair methods for greater effect or rotate them so the deer donít become resistant to both methods over time.
Another short term effect that my mother has great success with is a product called ďDeer OffĒ. There are several versions and different brands of this product. It can be found at any garden supply store. These products use animal essences from predatory animals and other essences that deer associate with being dangerous or unpleasant. You apply the product to the plants being munched on and it lasts for about a week or until it rains. Donít forget to reapply after a rain. My mother missed one day after a storm and went out to find her plants munched to the ground.
A permanent method would be to build a fence. Deer can jump over fences and so you would need your fence to be about six feet tall. Depending on the severity of your situation eight feet or higher may be required. Construct your fence out of metal mesh or grid like material of a strength that canít be bent inward or broken from a deer pushing on the material. Youíd also want to ensure your posts were strong enough to stand up to a pressing deer.
Growing up as a child we had a five foot metal mesh fence around our vegetable garden and it was enough to keep the deer out. Perhaps it worked since it was summer and the deer had enough food so the fence just wasnít worth their trouble. Either way your roses will be the most in demand for snacking during the winter season when food is scarce. Reaching the midst of the winter season, when the deer are extremely hungry, can make a five foot fence seem like less of a barrier.
Whatever methods you decide to implement to keep deer out of your rose garden, remember that consistency is the key. If youíre using deterrent-type products deer will eventually become immune to the same method if itís used repeatedly, or come back once the scent has worn off. Keep those deer guessing or else consider giving that fence some thought. Above all else remember that attempting to keep a sense of humor about the situation is the key to maintaining your sanity.