Deer and Plants

Deer Resistant Gardening Ideas


Deer Resistant Plants > Deer-Resistant Gardening


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white tail deer There's nothing more frustrating than spending time, energy, and money landscaping your yard, only to have it ruined by the local deer population.

Sure, deer are beautiful to look at.  And it's always an event when they walk through your yard.  But the last thing you want them to do is destroy it.  The deer aren't ruining your landscape with malice — they are merely hungry.  One adult deer, after all, eats between six and 10 pounds of vegetation a day.  If yours looks good to the deer, then as far as he's concerned, it's fair game.  And the damage can be extensive.  Stripped gardens, decimated bushes, trampled flowers, and destroyed vegetable plots are some of the things that deer leave in their wake.

Can you completely solve the problem?  Not entirely.  But it can be managed.  There are many strategies that successfully control the damage that deer cause.  Since other animals can also cause damage to your landscape, the first thing you'll need to do is carefully assess the crime scene to determine that deer were indeed the perpetrators.  Deer tracks, which are about three inches in length, are good identifiers, as are their characteristic droppings, which look like small, elongated pellets during all seasons but the summer, when the pellets clump together because of the deer's richer diet.  If your grass has tamped-down, swirled sections of grass it will also indicate that deer have been in your yard.  Finally, the type of damage done in your yard can tell you whether deer are to blame.  Because deer have no upper incisors, they tear their food away and leave torn leaves and jagged stems.

So what to do?  Well, the fix is actually quite simple.  The first step is to get rid of any plants in your yard that deer like to eat, and replace them with plants they find unpalatable.  If there's nothing good to eat at your place, the deer will stop coming.  That being said, deer tastes are much like human taste.  In other words, what deer will eat varies by area, time of year, species, and even the individual deer.  This website,, has a starter list of deer resistant plants, but your local agricultural extension agent should have a good list of plants in your area that deer like, as well as a list of plants that the deer in your area don't prefer.  Keep in mind that while deer will completely avoid poisonous plants, a very hungry deer will eat something they don't necessarily like.

There are certain highly fragrant plants that actually repel deer, including catnip, chives, garlic, onions, honeybush, lavender, mint, sage, society garlic, and thyme.  When planning your garden, replace those things that deer like with substitutes that repel.  For example, if you want to plant bulbs, choose daffodils, which deer tend not to go for, rather than tulips.  If you like roses, choose a rugosa hybrid.  The overwhelming scent, leathery leaves, and thorns make them unlikely deer food.

Finally, the way in which you plan your garden space can do much to deter deer.  Making your yard less inviting to enter by bordering the entryways and edges with deer-repellent plants, as well as employing tactics like obscuring the views in your yard, eliminating cover, and cleaning up rotting fruit and till, will all go far in ensuring that the time and effort you put in your garden is for you — not for the local deer.

Please feel free to browse through the deer resistant plant lists and resources found on this web site for more information on how to keep your yard deer-free.  And don't forget to visit the plant nursery web sites where you can order an extensive selection of deer resistant plants online.

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Deer Resistant Gardening - Deer Resistant Landscaping