Advice on deer eating plants a weeks after planting

Hi all,I'm looking for some advice.We planted up a new herbaceous border for a regular client, £250 worth of plants.A weeks later and before I've invoices, deer have been and munched 50% down to the ground.Client is unhappy and says I must fix. I wasn't told or knew there was a deer problem in the area.The client says he feels let down.What would you do / advise the client?He doesn't want to deer proff the garden.ThanksSam

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    • PRO
      Sorry Guy, even while apologising you are being very righteous.

      Not everybody can be perfect all the time, but to label those that make a mistake or miss a question as ‘bad apples’ is poor form ( as you appear to state above ).

      They maybe less experienced than you, but everyone has to learn.

      We’re all passionate about our industry / profession / job - not just you....
  • I like my horse. It's very high.

  • PRO

    I'm sure Sam has gleaned something from the I'm sure others have too.

    As I commented early in the thread, I think it is important (and this works for the client too) to make a list of potential problems when asked to quote for a job.

    Also, retrospectively, one should use both positive and negative experiences when building a set of terms and conditions. Over time one will be able to draw on experience and know exactly how and when to apply them.

  • PRO
    I was pondering this discussion earlier today and the comment about high horses leads nicely into my next post.

    A couple I do work for purchased a substantial quantity of semi mature trees over the last few years from a specialist nursery for a considerable amount of money, then planted the trees themselves using a borrowed excavator and their own forklift.

    The wife was complaining that someone had let a horse into a area where horses should not be loose and it had stripped bark from one of the trees they had planted.

    The husband enquired just how tall she thinks the horses are and pointed out it is squirrel damage, hence nothing to do with the horses.

    There cannot be many areas of the UK where trees are unlikely to be damaged by squirrels and again the land and home owners has to accept that a gardener or landscaper cannot be held responsible for damage to trees by squirrels as there isn't a foolproof way of protecting trees from squirrels as far as I know.

    Also, whilst on the subject of squirrels, one of my neighbours frequently moans about them. He planted bulbs in his garden and a squirrel dug them back up then reburied them in a hole it dug at the bottom of the lawn at the house next to his, the squirrel didn't actually return and now every year that is a great clump of blooms at the bottom of his neighbours garden. Again not something a gardener can particularly prevent, unless the areas planted with bulbs are covered with chicken wire or the like; or firearms are used.

    Regards professional gardeners, I attended a LANTRA training course last Friday, there were five of us on the course including a NT gardener, plus the the lecturer, they raised a smile when I said I have no intention of billing myself as "the" gardener, I am quite happy to be the under gardener doing some of the donkey work for clients who are far more knowledgeable when it comes to gardening. Indeed knowledge gained from some clients can be a good pointer as to what to do for the less knowledgable clients.

  • PRO
    Let's twist the conversation.

    How much responsibility do you take for damage you were paid to prevent?

    For example plants that have been eaten by slugs, when you have invoiced for liberally spreading slug pellets around them?

  • PRO
    Hi Sam, we created a bed that was planted up and partly eaten by deer. (We knew the risk, the client and ourselves planted it sparsely as an experiment). But ... it re-grew and hasn't been eaten since. So there is hope!
  • PRO

    I am curious to know why one of the posters on here said that the RHS list of deer-proof plants is not to be relied upon. I have read from several sources, though not on 3 pages of this thread so far, that there are such things as plants that deer don't like to eat, but then again someone also mentioned that once certain plants grew back they weren't eaten again. Perhaps it depends on how often you are likely to be visited by the local deer population and how much other tasty plant material they have to eat. 

    I think perhaps the fault lies partly at both doors. Unless the client is new to the area, surely he/she should know if they have deer in the area. If it's not a semi-rural garden, I think it would be hard for a professional gardener to realise there may be a deer issue, but if there are clearly open borders, or just countryside beyond then perhaps it's something that we gardeners should bear in mind, that there will be wildlife visiting - whether it's deer, rabbits or badgers. In my suburban garden it's only ever foxes, cats and occasionally rats and mice - oh and pigeons. They can wreak quite a lot of havoc in a vegetable garden especially. But I don't think I'd dare blame the gardener if wildlife gets in and eats plants. That doesn't sound fair at all. 

    • PRO

      I have noticed deer seem to be attracted to new tender shoots at least here in our area which is dominated by woodland  deer damage is minimal . 

      They seem to have a go at new shoots on roses and laurel but its not munching to the ground . 

      Most people including myself accept that damage to plants from wildlife is inevitable albeit frustrating but its actually rare here .

      Badgers leave tell tale snout marks in my lawn but even this is minimal . 

      People started heron proofing their garden ponds but now wild mink have started taking the koi carp . 

      No one ever points the finger at the gardener as these incidents are unpredictable , I have noticed that deer damage at least in our area seems to be a one off i have never known them eat the same bush twice . 

      Worst garden damage i have witnessed this year is dead trees bark  ringed by careless use of strimmers by so called professional gardeners and theft of garden ornaments and devastation left by the theft of york stone paving slabs . 

  • PRO

    It would be very unreasonable to blame the gardener.  If the client doesn't want to 'deer proof' the garden, what solution do they imagine that you can come up with?

    You say, a regular client, what's your working relationship like? Good, bad or indifferent? Can you talk with them to make them see that their & therefore your options are limited?

    There is clearly no point replanting, if the local deer know that its good 'pit stop'.

    Have the deer selectively eaten certain plants and what are they? Did they avoid other ones?

    Generally herbs, culinary or otherwise are good to grow e.g Nepeta, Lavender, Thyme, Valerian, Hemerocalllis, Lillies e.g Hosta, Geraniums

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