Hello Fellow Readers,
I’m delighted to help Pam and Ed of Sparta NJ create a useful backyard for their rescue canine kids to run. It surely was a dilemma as the grade change from their side gate to the flatter back forty compares to a ski slope. Walking the area was difficult for two-footed folks and nearly impossible when wet. An associate installer, Robert of Sierra Landscape Management, had the idea of traversing across the hill from the other side of the deck, creating a tiered area by adding a boulder wall. On the gate-side, we installed a series of garden steps using slabs of bluestone to create a manageable way to walk to the dog run while creating a perfect setting for a woodland garden to blend in with the surroundings. I believe landscape design is all about enhancing what Mother Nature has created. Making the most of what you have just as in life.
The woodland garden will be fenced separately from the dog run to allow Pam and Ed more plant options; beyond those that can handle dog traffic and visits from Bambi. Deer can jump over a 6-foot fence, the maximum most towns allow, but prefer easier pickings. Certainly dogs who delight in the chase will be a deterrent as well. Hence we chose a combination of deer resistant plants along with others. The sequence of the construction required the plants be installed before the fence; during the fall when deer are in their feeding frenzy.
When installing, it’s best to spray even plants highest in deer resistance to deter the herd from sampling what’s new in the hood. And, you can push the envelope without fencing if you are willing to use deer spray ongoing. Pam asked which I recommend. There are products with coyote urine, pig’s blood, egg solids, edible animal proteins, hot pepper concentrate, and ammonium soaps that run the gamut. One manufacturer touts their deterrents and writes, “the putrescent egg mimics the scent of a dead animal triggering a flight response in deer.” Deer won’t be the only ones repelled! Not to mention dogs love to roll in dead things which I learned the first time I had pups and a newly planted garden sprayed with stinky stuff. The outcome – flattened plants and smelly dogs. My favorite are sprays with a clove oil base such as Deer Out and Deer Stopper. Both are organic and systemic which means they won’t wash off in the rain. And, they don’t smell like a bad septic on a hot day.
During the excavation, Robert uncovered a massive bowl-like outcropping which explains a fallen tree once there. I envision it becoming a water feature. Perhaps dual purposing as a dog watering and rinse-off station. Talk about making the most of the gift of nature.
Garden Dilemmas? Askmarystone@gmail.com
Trade Secrets (for the blog):
Rutgers University has a deer resistant list which is searchable by plant category and degree of resistance; from rarely to frequently damaged. It’s an excellent resource but I have found what deer eat varies by neighborhood. Do they pow wow amongst each other “hey, have you given Echinacea a try?” Well my deer have. So while categorized as seldom severely damaged on the Rutgers list, I have to deer spray the heck out of my Echinacea.
Another trade secret to identify deer resistant plants that will work in your garden – look around the neighborhood and see what is not being browsed (and doesn’t smell bad).