We all want to support the flora and fauna in our area, but sometimes they don’t always play nice with each other. For example, we love to see deer in their natural habitats, but once they start coming into our yards and mow our plants to the ground, we don’t like them as much. If you have issues with deer invading your yard and eating all of your hard work, here are some guidelines to help you combat these pesky herbivores.
Deer are suckers for anything succulent and sweet. They especially love cool-season vegetable plants like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, peas, and beans. Fruiting trees and shrubs are subject to bud- nipping during the winter months because of their sweet taste and tender tissue. Deer have been known to target annuals and herbaceous perennials. No hosta is safe around deer! Shrubs that are often targeted by deer include arborvitae, roses, and hydrangeas.
To deter plants from eating your landscape plants there are many different methods, but an easy way to make sure they don’t eat the plants is to choose “deer-resistant” varieties. Deer resistant plants have common characteristics including pungent fragrance/odor, fuzzy leaves/stems and thorns. Some examples of deer resistant perennials include Russian sage, salvia, yarrow, allium, beebalm, black-eyed susan, and poppies. There are many more options! If you compare all of these plants, they have either a pungent odor or fuzzy leaf that deer do not like. Resistant shrubs include viburnum, boxwood, spirea, and juniper. All of these shrubs have either sharp needles, fuzzy leaves, rough branches, or a pungent fragrance. Do your research before planting to see if the plant is resistant to deer.
If you are able to plant deer-resistant varieties, you will stand a better chance against the hungry deer. If deer are hungry enough, they will eat just about anything. You could also incorporate repellents in your gardens to deter them even more. Some common repellents have pungent odors that are sprayed or spread granularly onto plants. This can be a tedious practice because you have to repeat applications all season. Some other options include fencing, but it has to be over 6 feet so they can’t jump over and scaring them with reflective or noise-making objects. They may get used to all of these protective measures and move in any way. It will always be a battle, but knowing what plants are not favorable can help you tremendously.