Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Deer in the Garden

Our local black tailed deer are fun to watch as they wander through our yard, but they sure like to eat, especially the plants we would prefer they didn't.

When we bought our house there was a lemon tree in the front yard that was almost naked of leaves.  The previous owner tried to protect it with a ring of chicken wire around it, but over the years the deer were able to poke their noses through the wire and strip it nearly clean of leaves.  Amazingly enough, with our added protection, the tree is still alive today.

We like to garden, so one of our first DIY projects was to build a 6' deer proof fence around the front yard..  We planted day lillys, succulents, naked ladies, manzanita, olive trees, and a second lemon tree, a gift from Chris.  All was well for several months.

Naked Lemon Tree
Then one morning we looked out the window, and the new lemon tree looked BARE!  Almost no leaves on it.  We rushed into the garden and saw the day lillies were mowed to the ground, many succulents were trimmed back, and even the local manzanita were nibbled on.  And of course the hoof prints were unmistakable - Our deer proof fence was not so deer proof.  

We wondered if the deer could hop the fence in a low spot, or perhaps scoot under it in a high spot.  We patched a a couple of these spots, and the day lillies grew back, and we noticed a couple of new leaves budding on the lemon tree, but low and behold, again one morning, the lillies were eaten and more plants munched on.

I bought a 'driveway patrol' wireless motion detector on ebay, hoping to catch the deer in the act and see where they jump over or scoot under to escape.  At first we were bothered by several false alarms; the cats wandering through the yard and tree branches swaying in the wind would set it off and we would run to the window, but alas, no deer to be seen.  I mounted the sensor so that it could not detect the swaying branches, and above the height of the cats, and now we wait.  

Reciever, in the house

Sending unit, mounted in the yard
We will let you know how this works if we ever catch a deer red handed.

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