It would be great if nobody ever trampled your beautiful
landscape but that is not a reality, especially if your area has foraging deer.
Your landscape becomes all-you-can-eat-buffet for deer especially during winter
season when there is food shortage in the wild. Also high deer population and
bad weather can strain their habitat, making deer eat plants they normally
don’t eat or like.
You’ve likely seen your favorite plants disappeared
overnight. Even a single deer can damage your landscape as they girdle even
tree barks damaging the health of the plants. This means you have to be
proactive in keeping deer away from tasty treats in your garden.
Deer resistant and deer repellent plants can be used to
prevent deer invasion to your landscape.
If you are going the route of deer repellents, be sure to switch up
brands from time to time to prevent repellent immunity and always reapply after
it rains. Or you can install deer proof fence that is high enough to prevent
the animals from jumping over and visible enough to surmount their poor depth
perception. It’s also important to remember that unless you build a very tall
fence, there is no such as deer-proof garden.
Not willing to install deer fence? Then put daylilies,
roses, hostas, tulips and lilies out of your mind unless you’re prepared to put
them in containers close to the house, where they can be protected.
Deer resistant/proof plants
Deer will eat anything if they are hungry enough, and they
can adapt and eat plants that are considered “resistant”. However, they do have their favorites and
they’re more attracted to places where their favorite food is easily available.
Smart selection of plants can be your
first defense against deer invasion. Deer do have their favorites and that is
typically plants that are bland, with lush foliage and high water content (like
hostas), fruits- and berry-producing plants, including vegetable gardens,
native plants and flowering plants such as tulips, crocuses and forsythia. And they
generally shy away from certain aromatic plants or plants with foliage or sap
that irritates them.
Deer are less likely to be attracted to:
Herbs and strongly
Our eyes and nose eat the food before our tastebuds have the
chance. Just like that, deer also eat with their noses first. And since their
noses are extra sensitive compare to us, if something smells distasteful, they’re
less likely to dive in for a taste. Their sensitive noses are easily irritated
by overly pungent odors and herbs can be great addition to your garden to repel
deer with their strong fragrance while enhancing your culinary and your garden.
Most herbs –including butterfly bushes,
lavender, yarrows, salvias, boxwoods and thymes –are usually deer safe and can
be used in cooking.
Also plants with very aromatic
foliage confuse Bambi’s olfactory system and discourage feeding, making them
the perfect addition to deer proof gardens. Many flowering herbs, plants with
fragrant foliage such as catmint (Nepeta), hyssop (Agastache), Artemisia,
Russian sage (Perovskia), boxwood (Buxus), Salvias, tansy (Tanacetum), bee balm
(Monarda), mountain mint (Pycnanthemum), dead nettle (Lamium), blue mist shrub
(Caryopteris), dill, lantana, and calamint (Calamintha) are deer resistant
Plants with Fuzzy or
Before buying a plant to include in your garden, rub
the foliage against your cheek. If you feel small hairs on the leaves – whether
bristly or soft – it’s probably a good plant choice for deer proof gardens.
Deer don’t like fuzzy or hairy textures against their tongues. Deer-resistant
garden plants in this category include lambs ear (Stachys), lady’s mantle
(Alchemilla), Siberian bugloss (Brunnera), flowering tobacco (Nicotiana),
tuberous begonias, heliotrope, yarrow (Achillea), Ageratum, poppies, purple top
vervain (Verbena bonariensis), and many others.
Also disliked by most deer are
plants with spines on their leaves. Though some deer learn to eat around the
thorns of rose canes to nibble off the leaves, they generally avoid plants with
spines on the leaves themselves. In this category are bear’s breeches (Acanthus),
globe thistle (Echinops), Cardoon, and sea hollies (Eryngium), among others.
Leathery or fibrous
leaves that are tough to digest are also typically avoided by deer. Pachysandra
is in this category, as are most irises, wax and dragonwing begonias, elephant
ears (Colocasia and Alocasia), peonies, and some viburnums (including
leatherleaf and arrowwood).
Ferns / toxic foliage
deer resistant plants are those that contain compounds toxic to deer. All ferns
contain compounds that deer can’t tolerate, so do false indigo (Acanthus),
globe thistle (Echinops), Cardoon, and sea hollies (Eryngium), among others.Ferns
can be great tool to add necessary shade or architecture to any homeowner’s
garden or landscaping.Autumn ferns turn a different color with each passing
season. These ferns are almost completely self-maintained and can reach two or
more feet tall.
Deer much prefer to eat forbs (flowering plants) and
woody plant shoots over grasses, though a small percentage of a deer’s diet
consists of young, succulent grasses. White-tailed deer cannot survive on
grasses alone, and they’ll mostly consume even young grasses as a last resort.
Because of this, ornamental grasses are a great plant choice for deer proof
gardens. Ornamental grass include
(Carex, Blue Oat Grass, Pennistemon including Bamboo)
The idea behind deer resistant landscaping is to fill your
yard with plants they don’t prefer, in hopes deer will simply give up and go
someplace more appetizing. If you are planting a new border or garden, start
with heavily scented and deer-resistant plants on the outside perimeter. Once
you’ve established an area and encouraged deer to browse elsewhere, you can add
other plants inside the perimeter.