How To Keep Deer Out Of Your Cannabis Garden
Deer love gardens full of weed plants. These herbivores will munch away at your cannabis crop, and can quickly ravage your carefully laid plans. Fortunately, they’re easy to repel since they’re timid and fearful of lights, open spaces, and certain smells. If you know deer psychology, you’ll be able to get your garden deer-free, post-haste!
Could anything be more adorable than a young deer? Maybe not, but if they start rooting around in your weed, they’ll suddenly be looking a lot less cute. Deer have a taste for cannabis, more than most herbivores, and as shy as these creatures are, they’re not too shy to come by at night and munch down all your buds and leaves.
What’s the relationship between deer and weed? How can you plan your garden to prevent a deer attack? And, if you’ve already got a hungry deer prowling your bud, how do you scare it off?
DEER AND WEED
Deer have developed quite a fondness for weed. Animals tend to find the taste of cannabis unpleasant; as the terpene content of your plants increases near harvest time, most will start avoiding your crops. Deer, however, will keep munching almost right up to the harvest itself.
Why do deer enjoy cannabis so much? Could it be that they’re trying to get high? Animal researchers say this probably isn’t the case, especially since THC’s psychoactive effects are not “activated” until cannabis has been decarboxylated (heated) and cannabinoid acids turn into active constituents. That being said, some weed growers are convinced the deer are loving it; Oregon’s Richard Davis has made friends with his local deer “Sugar Bob”, who loves weed and seems to enjoy the pleasant sleepiness it brings.
Deer are forest dwellers, and will likely only consume your weed if your garden is surrounded by trees. If you want to keep the deer at bay, try to find a clearing for your garden. Deer are timid and will likely decide that running through a field isn’t worth the risk, even for that sweet, sweet bud.
The timid nature of deer is also a key factor in getting rid of them once they’re already a problem.
You wake up one morning and find your weed garden is a mess. Several seedlings are uprooted, stems strewn across the soil, leaves and buds gone but for some scraps. Some of the larger plants have buds and leaves chewed to the quick. You scan the wreckage with sharp eyes, and there’s your clue: deer prints and droppings.
So, deer are eating your weed plants. There are a few ways to get rid of them, some involving more work and some less, some more and less pretty. We’ll start with the most obvious.
BUILD A FENCE
If you’re building the fence out of wood, make sure there are no spaces between slats or under the fence for the deer to shimmy through. Deer can jump up to eight feet. If you’re going to keep deer out with a fence, it had better be tall. Unless, that is, you make it electric.
Once you’ve got your electric fence set up, smear some peanut butter at the base of the fence before nightfall. The deer will come by, try to get at the sweet snack, and get a shock. Continue applying peanut butter until the deer stop eating it—shouldn’t take more than two or three times. Once the deer fear the fence, they’ll stay away from your garden.
INSTALL MOTION-DETECTOR LIGHTING
Connect some motion-detectors to a high-wattage bulb so that whenever deer approach your garden, they get a blast of light. Make sure to position the lights strategically so they won’t be pointing at your plants—this can adversely affect their life cycle. You want them to be facing the deer’s potential point of entry, so as to send them hopping.
INSTALL MOTION-DETECTOR SPRINKLERS
Same idea as above, except the deer get sprayed with water as they approach the garden. Look into “scarecrow sprinklers”, which will hit your deer with a blast of high-intensity water.
Deer are skittish, and can easily be scared away by the smell of animals they fear. Luckily, one of these is humans, so you can scare them away with bits of your own body. Drape human hair over your plants and leave jars of urine around the perimeter of your garden to repel with human smell.
You can also buy predator urine from coyotes, foxes, and bobcats. Spray this around the perimeter and deer won’t dare approach.
Make sure to re-apply these scent markers after rainfall.
OTHER REPELLING SCENTS
If using animal musk is too much for you, you can use a different kind of scent to repel deer. One plant-based option is to crush garlic and hang it in nylon around your plants. You can do the same with mothballs or scented bars of soap. You can also hang dryer sheets around your plants.
If you’re looking for an intermediary level of grossness, combine 20% rotten eggs with 80% water and spray it all over your plants. The deer will find this every bit as repelling as you do.
KEEP THOSE DEER AWAY!
Deer are a nuisance, but if you take the proper precautions, they’re not hard to get rid of. They could get used to any single form of repellent, so you may need to switch things up once in a while to keep them away.
Solving a deer problem feels great. Once you’ve gotten them safely out of your weed garden, you can go ahead and appreciate them from a distance, free from mixed feelings!Got a deer munching on your outdoor weed garden? Fortunately, they're easy to repel. Check out this handy guide for getting your garden deer-free!
Do deer eat weed? And other pests to watch out for when growing cannabis
We know you can’t wait to get your hands on your homegrown weed harvest, but what about all the other creatures out there lurking in the garden? Are you in competition? And if so, how best to fight back and protect your stash?
Here’s a list of common pests weed gardeners need to know about.
When food is abundant, deer will often prefer to skip cannabis. Makes sense, given that they tend to turn their noses at plants with strong scents. So, your weed might be safe, but deer will eat everything else in sight in your garden.
But, as is so often the case, there might not be enough alternative food for deer, and they will absolutely eat weed when push comes to shove. Here are the best bets to keep deer out of the garden:
- The only sure-fire way to keep deer out is a deer-proof fence. Depending on your aesthetic and budget, you have options:
- The classic setup is wire mesh attached to posts.
- These days a lot more folks opt for polypropylene-mesh. It’s much more affordable than wire, but it’s also a lot less durable.
- Wood privacy fences or chain link fences also do the trick, but they have to be at least 8 feet tall.
- Having a dog that spends most of its time outdoors can be a huge deterrent.
- Repellant sprays can be effective, but again, nothing stops a starving animal. Note: Homemade sprays—using garlic powder and cayenne—are as effective as many store-bought ones, but they have to be reapplied more often.
Gophers and moles
Often lumped together, moles and gophers are actually two different types of burrowing mammals. Moles burrow underground looking for insects and leave more conical-shaped piles of dirt. Other than a touch of disturbance to your roots, moles don’t really pose much of a threat to your cannabis. Really, you can relax. Moles might actually serve some benefit in aerating the soil.
Gophers, on the other hand, are assholes. These (mostly) indiscriminate jerks will suck an entire plant down into their tunnels in one fell swoop, leaving you with nothing (they have more of a rounded pile above ground). And sadly, cannabis is on their list of likes, so here are methods to keep them away:
- Line the bottom of planting beds with gopher wire. Made from 3/4″ x 20-gauge hexagonal mesh netting, gophers can’t chew through it. The biggest drawback is how labor intensive it can be if your beds are well-established (that’s a lot of digging). It’s much easier to do at construction time.
- Gopher baskets are great if lining entire beds isn’t in the cards. They’re essentially gopher (or chicken) wire bent into a basket shape. You can sink them into the bottom of the hole at planting time to protect individual plants. They’re a lot less work than lining an entire bed, but they tend to be pretty expensive per pop.
- Trapping works, too. There are various brands of traps: Victor Black Box, Macabee, Gophinator, and Cinch.
- Lastly, predators—including owls, snakes, cats, dogs, and coyotes—all eat gophers.
Slugs and snails
A telltale sign of slugs or snails are munched outer edges of leaves and a visible slimy trail nearby. These sticky mollusks tend to prefer younger, more tender plants and pose less of a problem once plants are bigger. Here are a few options to keep your weed slime free:
- Sluggo, a store-bought product available at any garden center, is the best. Pet-safe and organic, simply sprinkle the pellets at the base of the plant. Replace after rain.
- Fill a saucer with beer and put it nearby. Expect many drunken, dead slugs or snails the next morning.
- Though some people swear by lining the base of plants with copper tape, made specifically for the purpose of shocking slugs and snails, it has never worked for me, so I don’t recommend it.
The big risk with Fido in the cannabis garden is if he digs too close to plants and disrupts the roots. If you see him getting too close, it’s a matter of training him, keeping him on a leash, or just keeping him the hell out of the garden.
While they’re great for keeping other pests away, cats can pose their own problems in the cannabis garden. Should they choose to use your plants as a litter box, know that their feces can attract unwanted parasites.
Additionally, their urine, high in ammonia, is indeed not a free fertilizer but a recipe for burn. Be sure to water a plant if you see it’s been peed on by a cat. A great way to keep kitty way from the weed is to line the soil with chicken wire. She’ll want nothing to do with walking across it.
While squirrels are otherwise complete assholes in the garden, the good news is they’ll largely leave your cannabis alone. Nuts and seeds (and that almost-ripe tomato) are their go-to foods.
Rats and mice
They’re gross, but not going to present much danger to your crop. Just give you the willies.
Unless you’re growing a crop for future seeds—which will be devoured by birds—your feathered friends are otherwise a blessing in the cannabis garden, as they eat all sorts of pests including caterpillars, snails, and slugs.They may be cute, but deer will eat your growing weed plants. Here's how to prevent them and other critters from destroying your weed. ]]>