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Deer Repellents

This blog was writ­ten by Megan Hand­shu, of the Howard County Nat­ural Resources Divi­sion. Thanks Megan!

Every­one in Howard County who has tried to grow some­thing in their yard knows that deer are enemy num­ber one. Not the drought. Not the stinkbugs. Deer. They will prac­ti­cally stand on your front porch and eat from planted urns beside your door, unafraid of your bark­ing dog, uncar­ing of the fact that you did not intend for your land­scape to become their smörgåsbord.

Here are a few tips on how to fight back by pro­tect­ing your plants from deer. As much as we wish they might just go away, deer over­pop­u­la­tion can be an unfor­tu­nate side effect of a grow­ing com­mu­nity. So set aside the wish­ful think­ing and take action. One or more of these tac­tics may help you save your yard!

Tree Shel­ters:

Bark pro­tec­tors and tree shel­ters are a won­der­ful way to pro­tect your young trees from deer. Not only can they help pro­tect your trees from becom­ing a deer snack, but from becom­ing a scratch­ing post as well. In the late sum­mer and fall male deer will rub against young saplings to remove the vel­vet from their antlers. This may snap young trees before they get a chance to acquire the girth to with­stand such abuse. There are many types of shel­ters out there, from the blue tubes you may often see on the side of the road to sturdy plas­tic mesh.

Whether you choose per­fo­rated or solid tubes you will have to keep an eye on them. Solid tubes can trap mois­ture caus­ing mold and mildew prob­lems. They may also invite small rodents or wasps. Per­fo­rated tubes may need extra main­te­nance as limbs can grow through the holes in the shel­ter. You want the branches to grow up through the top and not side­ways through a hole. In win­ter, the shel­ters can be weighed down by heavy snows and ice, bend­ing the tree with them, and may need to be uprighted. Also, make sure that when your tree begins to out­grow its shel­ters, you take it off, or else the shel­ter can restrict fur­ther growth.


Deer repel­lent tablets are a new prod­uct just reg­is­tered with the US Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency ear­lier this year. You bury them at the base of your plants where water dis­solves the tablet and the chem­i­cals are absorbed through the roots. The active ingre­di­ents are cap­saicin and related cap­sai­ci­noids, the chem­i­cals that make pep­pers so hot and spicy. As unpalat­able as a hot pep­per can be for (many) humans, so is it for deer and other brows­ing ani­mals. Not only will these tablets help pro­tect your plants form deer, but also from rodents such as voles and rab­bits. Don’t worry, no harm will come to these ani­mals if they do ingest part of the plant, except maybe a case of heartburn.

This prod­uct is not for use in veg­etable gar­dens or fruit orchards as it will affect the taste of the food, but it has a lot of poten­tial for pro­tect­ing other types of plants. Depend­ing on the size of your plant, it can take one week to a month for the bad taste to absorb through­out the plant. Dur­ing this time it may be wise to use a spray-on repel­lent to pro­tect your plants. How­ever, once absorbed, it will last the entire grow­ing season.

Repel­lent Sprays:

There are lots of repel­lent sprays avail­able and each seems to claim that their active ingre­di­ent is the only one that works. Ingre­di­ents vary and some smell really bad. There are also dozens of home­made deer repel­lent recipes avail­able on the inter­net. Look for repel­lents that will not wash off your plant every time it rains. You will need to re-apply peri­od­i­cally, but some last longer than oth­ers. Also be care­ful about using repel­lents on edi­bles. They may affect the taste and some may not be safe for con­sump­tion at all.

Howard County’s Stream ReLeaf pro­gram is look­ing into all three of the meth­ods men­tioned above for con­trol­ling deer dam­age to the trees and shrubs it pro­vides. The Stream ReLeaf pro­gram pro­vides native plant mate­r­ial to home­own­ers whose prop­erty is within 75 feet of a stream. With each tree given away by the pro­gram, a tree shel­ter will be pro­vided as well. For those plants that can­not be shel­tered, a com­bi­na­tion of tablets and a spray will be used. These meth­ods will help the plants to sur­vive and thrive, reduc­ing ero­sion and keep­ing pol­lu­tants out of the Chesa­peake Bay. Once the plants are larger and estab­lished, they won’t need as much attention.

For more infor­ma­tion on the Stream ReLeaf pro­gram please visit our web­site. If you believe your prop­erty qual­i­fies, con­tact Megan Hand­shu at mhandshu@howardcountymd.gov or (410) 313‑6205.

Addi­tional Resources:

Howard County has a com­pre­hen­sive deer man­age­ment pro­gram. For more infor­ma­tion about deer man­age­ment in Howard County, visit the web­site.

August 2011

Residents Spring in to Action: Spring Stream ReLeaf

New Image1

What an excit­ing sea­son it was for Stream ReLeaf!

This sea­son saw a jump in demand for the ReLeaf pro­gram — with three dozen res­i­dents plant­ing over 1,300 trees and shrubs. With each of those 1,300 plants that were installed, the envi­ron­ment ben­e­fits. How? In immea­sur­able ways, but let’s start off with some of the biggies:

*Stream buffers help pre­vent stream­bank erosion.

*The veg­e­ta­tion traps much of the sed­i­ment, nutri­ents, and other pol­lu­tants, pre­vent­ing them from enter­ing our waterways.

*In addi­tion to sta­bi­liz­ing the soil, the plants uti­lize most of the trapped nutri­ents. (Note: An effec­tive buffer will use of to 80% of the phos­pho­rous and nearly 90% of the nitro­gen, two of the biggest pol­lu­tants of the Chesa­peake Bay.)

These envi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits are com­ple­mented by count­less other ones, such as pro­vid­ing habi­tat and sup­ply­ing food for wildlife, and car­bon sequestration.

The instal­la­tion of these plants can also be looked at from an eco­nomic point of view. At a time when many stormwa­ter man­age­ment facil­i­ties are in need of main­te­nance or repair, the addi­tional plants can help reduce the veloc­ity of the stormwa­ter, thereby allow­ing more of the water to be absorbed in to the earth. Any reduc­tion in the vol­ume of water that these facil­i­ties need to han­dle helps from a man­age­ment and upkeep per­spec­tive. And there are other eco­nom­i­cal ben­e­fits, too; for exam­ple, a reduc­tion in stream­bank ero­sion can help main­tain the value of a property.

Laura Miller
June 2011

Buffers? You mean those things that wax your cars?


As evi­denced by the County’s recent give-away, 2010 Trees in 2010, plant­ing trees is a high pri­or­ity for the County. What is the return on invest­ment for such a pro­gram? I’ll tell you…Trees:

- Remove car­bon diox­ide from the air and pro­duce oxygen;

- Pro­vide food and habi­tat for wildlife;

- Inter­cept water, store some of it, and reduce storm runoff and the pos­si­bil­ity of flooding;

- Poten­tially reduce energy costs by pro­vid­ing shade dur­ing hot sum­mer months (of timely impor­tance) and/or act­ing as a wind­break dur­ing colder times;

- Beau­tify a prop­erty; and

- Pro­vide privacy.

The added bonus of trees when planted in a stream buffer, as is done through the Stream ReLeaf Pro­gram, is that stream­banks can be sta­bi­lized; and sed­i­ment , nutri­ents and other pol­lu­tants can be trapped and pre­vented from enter­ing our water­ways. In fact, the tree will even use up to 80% of the phos­pho­rous and nearly 90% of the nitro­gen that it takes up, two of the biggest pol­lu­tants of the Chesa­peake Bay.

The Stream ReLeaf Pro­gram has been enabling Howard County res­i­dents to plant native trees and shrubs in stream buffers since 2003, and is now gear­ing up for the Fall 2010 plant­ing sea­son. A list of inter­ested res­i­dents has been started and addi­tional par­tic­i­pants are wel­come as well.

Since the debut of the pro­gram in 2003, Stream ReLeaf has grown from just a few par­tic­i­pants to an annual aver­age par­tic­i­pa­tion of more than two dozen res­i­dents installing approx­i­mately 1,200 native plants.

Fol­low the links below for the forms for the 2010 ReLeaf pro­gram. If you are inter­ested in par­tic­i­pat­ing in this pro­gram, please con­tact Laura A.T. Miller at ltmiller@howardcountymd.gov or 410−313−1636. If send­ing an e-mail or leav­ing a voice­mail, please include your address.

Indi­vid­ual Stream Re-Leaf Form Fall 2010

Tree List Avail­abil­ity Form Fall 2010

2010 Trees in 2010 Program Sets Record


A new pro­gram cre­ated to bring more trees to Howard County was an over­whelm­ing suc­cess with 2,010 trees reserved by res­i­dents in just 48 hours. County res­i­dents were allowed to apply for up to two free trees as part of the 2010 Trees in 2010 ini­tia­tive which began on Mon­day, March 22.

The pro­gram was insti­tuted to help Howard County increase its tree canopy which helps to improve air qual­ity, con­serves water and mod­er­ates the cli­mate. The tim­ing of the pro­gram was par­tic­u­larly ben­e­fi­cial to an area that was hard hit dur­ing this winter’s his­toric snow­storms with the loss of a num­ber of trees due to the heavy snowfall.

The incred­i­ble suc­cess of 2010 Trees in 2010 led Howard County Exec­u­tive Ken Ulman to sug­gest pos­si­ble future pro­grams, “since it was so well-received and the fund­ing came strictly from inter­est earned on our For­est Con­ser­va­tion Fund, I hope we’ll be able to do it again in the fall or next spring.”

Funds for the For­est Con­ser­va­tion Fund come from devel­op­ers who fail to meet forestry require­ments when they develop properties.

No doubt the suc­cess of 2010 Trees in 2010 will help Howard County con­tinue to be named a “Tree City USA” by the Arbor Day Foun­da­tion. At 20 years and count­ing it’s an award we look for­ward to win­ning for years to come.

Laura AT Miller
OES staff
April 2010

Green Tip

Drive efficiently.At 45mph and above, save gas by rolling your windows up