Updated: Sep 25, 2020
If you are an Albertan zone 3 gardener like me, chances are high that you struggle with keeping deer away from your plants. It is absolutely disheartening to go outside and realize the plants you have been carefully tending indoors the past 3 months and just planted outside, are destroyed by the deer. There are a number of options for preventing this from happening to you.
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Use a Motion Activated Sprinkler
Motion activated sprinklers cost much less than a fence and can be a great way to protect your garden. Deer do not appreciate being startled by a stream of water directed at them. When purchasing, look for one that has a reach large enough to cover the desired space. This one from Amazon has a 30ft reach. The range can be adjusted to protect the desired area. I know a number of people who successfully use these in their gardens. Many of them are solar powered so you will only have to connect it to a water source.
Build a Deer Fence
The most reliable way to ensure your garden is safe from deer is to build a deer fence. This is also the most expensive. There are a number of options for fences with various price ranges. Deer can jump over 7 feet high so if it is fence they can see through it needs to be at least that high. You can use netting or wire to a 5 or 6 foot hight with a top railing at 7 feet.
An electric fence can be strung up around your garden. This will not need to be solid or as high as a wood or wire fence. Deer will not like being shocked and after a few times will learn to stay away.
Use Deer Spray
There are a number of deer sprays on the market. With consistent use, these can work for your flowers but I would not suggest using them on plants you plan to eat, so for vegetable gardening this is not an ideal option.
Plant Deer Resistant Plants
If these other options are not available to you, don't let that stop you from gardening altogether. There are a number of deer resistant plants you can grow. Keep in mind if you have a lot of deer and they have little food they will eat almost anything.
Deer resistant herbs and vegetables include:
tomatoes (I have found they are not 100% deer proof but normally will not eat more than a few nibbles)
raspberries (although if they are especially persistent they may chew on new canes)
Deer love to chew on fruit trees. If you are planting young fruit trees plan to enclose them with deer netting to protect them from damage.