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Deer and your Ontario Cottage

400 275 Nisha Muire
Owning a cottage in Ontario is a dream larger numbers of people are achieving. Given the current high values of properties in Toronto, more people are opting to live in smaller homes in the city and splurge on their cottage. While the thought of having a tranquil lake or country garden to gaze upon from your porch, the reality is that deer are drawn to most cottage gardens – and for the very same reasons that attract us into planting them! Deer tend to have the same taste in natural habitat as humans – they prefer grassy meadows dotted with trees and full of colour shrubs and flowers; chances are that I’ve just described your Ontario cottage garden.
There are measures you can take to ward deer away. You can start off small with repellents and can increase the potency of the measures taken given how persistent and damaging the deer interest in your garden becomes. Keep in mind that the more freely deer can access and munch in your garden the greater the damage will become as they will associate your land with a free buffet filled with variety and easy access. The trick is to take measures to withstand any deer interest from the moment you see deer start hanging around.
The first thing to do would be to try deer repellents. Deer are not partial to either rotten eggs or garlic. If you’re not fond of the notion of smelling rotten eggs each time you step outside, you can always purchase repellents specifically designed with the smells that repel deer. You can hang these products outside around the perimeter of your garden to keep deer at bay.
You can also try to avoid planting a deer’s favorite food. Some of those plants that deer are especially attracted to include cedar, yew, fruit trees, lilies and hostas. They don’t much care for thorny plants and those with rubbery leaves, but if there is a lack of food in your area, then they really won’t be too picky.
Another good deterrent is fright. Deer startle easily so setting up some kind of noise maker system around your property that is triggered when a deer crosses it would help tremendously. However, deer are also quite bright and if the noise is always coming from the same spot, they will learn to grow accustomed to it and not bother with it anymore. Owning a dog is a fantastic deterrent but, obviously, not everyone can or wants to own a dog.
Lastly you can always put up fencing. Make sure that any fence is at least seven feet high as deer are very good jumpers. As they will try to go through the fence, make sure that it is secure fixed to wood or metal posts and that it goes all the way to the ground. Double fencing is another good deterrent. Deer tend to get messed up with double fencing and tend to not even try accessing those gardens that are double fenced.
Deer are beautiful and part of the natural landscape that we all crave when we are in the country – except when they are destroying our beloved gardens.


Nisha Muire

All stories by: Nisha Muire