PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — So you’ve worked hard on your yard, landscaping, and garden and then along come the varmits. Deer, rabbits, and voles all looking for a feast.

So when the deer come calling what are they looking for?

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“Pretty much anything that’s edible,” says Horticulturist and the founder of Savvygardening.com Jessica Walliser, “Anything that suits their palate and sometimes they even eat things that aren’t preferred foods, simply because they’re really, really hungry.”

Disney might have made Thumper jumping around Bambi’s legs cute, but in your yard, Walliser says they aren’t so cute. “Those rascally little buggers right there and right now is breeding season for them so they’ve got lots of babies, so soon enough, those babies are going to be coming out of the nest, and the rabbit pressure is even going to get higher.”

Walliser says what you plant really makes a difference. “Choosing plants that are not preferred by the deer. So that would be plants with fuzzy foliage, plants with a lot of thorns, plants with highly fragrant foliage, so a lot of the herbs will work really well to deter them.”

Perhaps you have seen people hang soap, pie pans, or strps of aluminum foil to ward off the deer, but Walliser says the deer just acclimate to those things. As for building a fence, “The deal with fencing is that deer can jump really really high! So you would want to put up a fence about eight foot high.” Or you can protect your plants and garden with deer netting. But if you do, Walliser suggest adding strips of cloth for the deer to see. “If it’s night time and that mesh is black, they’re not always going to notice it and they might jump through it. So putting some kind of marker on it like that that’s a little bit more visible to them would certainly help.”

Fencing rabbits out is a bit more practical. “They can jump far but they can’t jump high, so you really only need a fence that’s about 18 inches high, to deter them.”

Watch as KDKA’s John Shumway reports:


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As for those spray repellents, Walliser says, “You have to be religious about it, you can’t just spray them once and expect them to work, especially this time of year where the plants are growing quickly. So we have to spray you know every week, every two weeks with one of those deterrents.”

And be careful what you are spraying, “If it’s a liquid spray. You definitely don’t want to be using it on an edible plant because it will definitely affect the taste and it will make it pretty gross.” She says that’s not as much of an issue with the granular products you spread directly on the ground.”

Walliser says you also have to watch out for Voles. They are different from moles which are not really interested in your vegetation. Voles can be just as damaging as rabbits. “Those are the ones that will eat like your day lilies, they’ll eat your potatoes if you plant potatoes in the garden. So they do the most damage.”

Whatever repellants you choose, Walliser suggests this method. “I’ll have two or three different products in my arsenal on one week, I’ll use this one the next week, I’ll use the next one, to sort of keep them on their toes and keep them from getting used to it.”

One other deterrent Walliser wants to make sure you know about is the Scarecrow. Not the tradition type. “This is a really cool motion activated sprinkler, and they even sell it on Amazon and you hook it up to your hose, and when it senses motion in front of it, it sends out a really sharp burst of water, It moves so it kind of like it has a range. So if you are wanting to protect your vegetable garden or shrub bed you aim it at that bed and anytime the deer come into that zone, they’ll get scared away it actually works really well.”

Walliser says you can get more information about the pest common to your area by talking to someone at the closest nursery.

They have to deal with them too and usually know what works best in your neck of the woods.

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