Deer Here

How could something so beautiful be so destructive?

In Bergen County, deer are more likely to change their traffic patterns every year because of property development. One year you’re fine, then a couple of houses go up five blocks away and you’re in trouble. The overpopulation of the animals, coupled with a thinning of woodlands, has caused them to be hungrier and more desperate—especially in the winter.

Deer Life

The skittish nocturnal animals are up all night, but most often seen roaming during the two hours before sundown, and early in the morning. Deer have no upper incisors, so twigs and stems they have browsed show a rough, shredded surface. When eating branches, they strip the bark and leave no teeth marks. Compare the evidence to that of rabbits, who leave a sharp cut and rodents, who leave narrow teeth marks.

Dangerous Beauties

Deer damage goes beyond watching your hostas vaporize overnight. Deer spread Lyme disease by carrying the ticks that spread it. They cause injury to passengers in cars that hit them or swerve to avoid them--or are traveling behind them. And they destroy property in search of food. Populated, developed areas like Bergen County don’t see as many deer as other regions, but with relatively little forestation in the county, deer are more likely to feed on home landscapes. Is there a no-fail method to keeping them off your property? “Nothing is 100%,” advises Mitch Knapp of Scenic Landscape Design, “But there are definitely ways to discourage them.”

Plant Choices

Selecting plants unattractive to deer is a practical, easy way to deter the visitors. Knapp has seen entire landscapes destroyed when the wrong plants were chosen. He suggests planning out a yard with a licensed landscape architect or horticulturist, even if the homeowner or a