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Spring Gardening Tips: Dealing With Wildlife

Deer Movement In Spring

Spring is a sign of rebirth; and it isn't just the flowerbeds that are sprouting. Spring is when homeowners see an influx of deer and other wildlife on lawns and gardens as they search for food. After all, white-tailed deer had little natural resources to eat in winter; but with warm weather ahead, their hunger pains are over. Here is what homeowners need to know about deer movement in spring:

In winter, white-tailed deer laid low to avoid homeowners and deer hunters and to preserve energy levels; but in spring, deer activity changes as they indulge on a buffet of options. Deer will venture onto landscapes between sunrise and sunset to eat from organic gardens and other growing sites only to sleep during the afternoon. 

While deer damage in gardens will be a pain for gardeners early on in spring, it will worsen in April-June when deer fawns are born. Double trouble ahead!

Other Wildlife Concerns

It isn't just deer that homeowners will see on their properties; but coyotes, rabbits and bears. 


Coyote breeding season in January brings coyote pups into the world in March and April. The pups will stay with their parents in search of food until they reach "adulthood" later in the year. In spring, coyotes present a problem to pet owners with small dogs and cats as they are known to attack them. 


Rabbit breeding season in February brings baby bunnies into the world as early as March. The gestation period of female rabbits, called doe, is only 28 days, after all! This means that bunnies will be hopping into vegetable gardens to eat more than just carrots including an array of grasses, fruits and flowers. 


Bears start to wake from hibernation as early as February; but homeowners will see them approach organic gardens in March as they gain an appetite for berries, roots, grasses and insects. 

Spring Garden Management Tips

Gardeners who are starting a vegetable garden in the spring will need to implement wildlife management strategies to keep deer and other animals at bay. Here are recommendations for deer-proofing gardens:

  1. Install deer fence around properties that are at least 7.5' feet tall. This is the best height for keep deer out of gardens. A 6' foot high metal fence can be used for coyote management; while electric fence is suggested for bear deterrence in gardens. For rabbit control, trench a metal fence at least 6 inches into the ground to prevent burrowing. 
  2. Grow deer-resistant flowers around a deer fence. Marigolds, daffodils and Black-eyed Susan are just some of the plants that deer hate smelling and tasting.
  3. Sprinkling deer repellents, or deer predator urine, in grass to send deer away from landscapes.

Without a deer management plan, gardeners will see wildlife damage to agriculture during all four seasons.