Shepherding deer away


By Kit Flynn

Photo by Kit Flynn.

Tony Avent of Plant Delights posted the following on Facebook. This is relevant to everyone who has had to cope with the surplus deer population in their gardens:

“We hear from so many gardeners that the abundance of deer has been a significant limiting factor in their gardening, by restricting their plant palette. For those who want to continue gardening, there are four options: 1) Grow only deer-resistant plants, 2) Exclude the deer, 3) Hunt the deer, and 4) Use deer deterrent products.

We have produced a list of plants that are deer resistant in most situations, but like people, all deer aren’t going to consume the same foods when given a buffet option. Some, like us, opted for exclusionary deer fencing, which works quite well, but there are certainly limitations such as cost, HOA’s, etc. that make these impractical in some situations. The hunting option works for those who are so inclined, but only if you live in neighborhoods where hunting is permitted.

Most people use deer deterrent sprays, and while many work, they require frequent re-applications. This is why we paid particular attention a year ago, when we were told by our Extension agent about a product, Trico PRO, that was showing amazing effectiveness in both commercial farming and tree growing operations. The most intriguing report is that it only needs to be applied twice a year. In addition to eliminating browse, it also can be used as a deterrent to stop deer from entering a property by applying the product along the typical deer travel routes.

Since we opted for seclusion, we don’t have a great test area for the product, but we wanted to share the reports in case you want to investigate on your own. Unlike many of the smelly options, Trico PRO’s active ingredient is sheep fat, so there isn’t the odor of many homemade products. Because it’s an all natural product, it’s also labeled for use in vegetable gardens and orchards. At present, this is only packaged in large commercial size containers, so the amount of product you must purchase and the price may not be economical for those with small yards, unless you’re willing to work with your neighbors on a collaborative effort. For gardeners who want to continue to garden with a wide diversity of plants, perhaps this may be a viable option. We encourage you to talk with your local Extension Office to find out more about the results they are seeing in your region. You can also find out more from the distributor here”:…/products/repellent/trico-pro/

After being an active member of the Durham County Extension Master Gardeners for 13 years, Kit Flynn now holds emeritus status. For five years she was the gardening correspondent for “Senior Correspondent” and shared “The Absentee Gardener” column with fellow Master Gardener Lise Jenkins. She has given numerous presentations on various gardening topics to Triangle organizations and can be reached at

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