ShadyGardens Blog

October 28, 2007

Deer Proof Your Garden the Easy Way

Filed under: eucalyptus, herb, Herbs, native azalea, native plant, nursery, plants, rosemary, tree — shadygardens @ 6:33 pm

Since opening the nursery, I’ve been asked many times, “How do you keep deer from eating your plants?” Well, I have several suggestions that worked for me, and they are surprisingly simple.
1. The 1st recommendation is obvious–plant things the deer don’t like! Deer prefer nice tasty leaves, and not leaves with fuzz or strong odors. Deer love hosta, pansies, and daylilies–if it’s edible for people, deer like it too! They don’t like herbs, except for basil. There are many desirable plants the deer will not eat. For instance, anything poisonous, such as Foxgloves, Florida Anise, or Daffodils. Other deer-resistant plants are: Ageratum, Iris, Barberry (they usually won’t eat anything with thorns), Buddleia, Mock Orange, Spirea, Lilacs, Dogwood, Magnolia, Boxwood, Holly, Leucothoe, Pieris, and Yucca. See, there are many plants deer won’t eat–although when they get truly hungry, they’ll taste of anything!
2. I know you also want to grow many plants that deer do like; as gardeners, we don’t want to limit ourselves to the few plants deer won’t eat. Deer will eat just about anything, when they are truly hungry. So go ahead and plant what you like, even if the deer like it too, and do what we did…Several years ago, my husband planted our first weeping willow tree. The deer just would not leave it alone! Every time the little tree managed to grow a new little shoot, the deer gobbled it right up. The poor little tree just couldn’t get ahead! Until I encircled it with a few aromatic herbs that the deer find distasteful: Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, and lots of Chrysanthemums. The deer then decided to move on to other plants! That little tree has grown to supply me with many new trees to sell at my nursery!
3. Build a tall fence. Deer can jump very high, so your fence would need to be at least 10 feet tall. This can get pricey, especially if your garden is large.
4. My final and most successful recommendation is this: Get a big dog! A little cute dog won’t work, but a big dog that loves to chase wildlife will keep the deer from eating your prized plants. You want one of those playful, hunting dog types–ours is a big black Lab.
She works herself to death keeping the squirrels off the birdfeeders and the deer from my garden. Of course she does a little damage–she tramples plants sometimes, and she digs a hole when she believes a chipmunk would be tasty, or when she smells a rat. And when she was a puppy she chewed a little bit, but she never did as much damage as a family of deer can do in a single night!
I don’t recommend those expensive, smelly deer-proofing products. I have been told that they really work, but they are expensive! You’ll be planting anyway–and everyone needs some aromatic plants like Rosemary, Eucalyptus, Thyme, Oregano, and of course, Mums! So plant aromatic plants all around your garden, and then start looking for a great big dog. Go to the pound and ask them, “Who’s the friskiest dog you have?” (That’s the kind you need–a playful hunter with a loud bark!) Take him home and love him. By the way, the big dog will eat alot, but I believe feeding him will still be cheaper than buying all that Deer-repellant spray!
By following my suggestion, you will have done 2 wonderful things: (1) Saved a dog’s life, and (2) Saved your garden

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