Keep deer from your landscaping and garden

Posted by Woodrow Aames ~ May 2, 2012

Here in the Pacific Northwest I grew a hearty garden. I fenced it in with wire and used the local version of deer repellent: concentrated coyote urine. The deer were in the yard every day, but avoided the garden. Then, as if they had a refined calendar, the deer jumped the fence one morning when everything was ripe and they strip-mined the plot.

If you're considering landscaping ideas for the spring, you might think about using plants that do nothing for deer appetites. A great place to start is by contacting a local university agricultural extension office. The offices are typically staffed with bright research scholars with a keen interest in your region.

There are ground covers, perennials, flowers and ornamental grasses that have a history of low susceptibility to grazing deer. Finding the right ones is not an exact science; it's not perfect. Remember, a ravenous deer may relax its culinary preferences.

Landscaping for resistance to deer

Rutgers University maintains an interactive site for determining Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance. You can browse plants by how attractive they are to deer and by the plant type (bulbs, annuals, biennials, ferns, ground-cover, perennials, shrubs, ornamental grasses, vines and trees). Damage vulnerability is rated as: rarely damaged, seldom severely damaged, occasionally severely damaged and frequently severely damaged.

According to Rutgers, Bambi is decidedly not attracted to Angel's Trumpet, Blue Fescue, Common Boxwood, Forget-Me-Nots, Heliotrope, Lavendar, Mint, Rosemary, Tarragon, Varigated Oat Grass and Yucca.

You can also check the extension at Texas A&M, where the list takes on a Southwest flavor - or lack of one. Oleander, Texas Mountain Laurel, Green Santolina, Copper Canyon Daisy, Mexican Honeysuckle, Marigolds and Periwinkles are pretty much off the deer's training table.

You'll want to strike a balance between that which is edible landscaping for humans and a four-star dinner for fawns.

Other deer remedies

Barking dogs, bright flood lights and alarms may scare deer off, but only temporarily. Surround any of the deer-preferred species with a ring of unpalatable landscaping. There are also "contact repellants" that you spray directly on your plants. The Colorado State University Extension recommends spraying a solution of 80 percent water and 20 percent whole eggs. The sulfurous odor drives hungry deer elsewhere. But it's only good for a few weeks, or less if it rains, and must be re-applied.

If you haven't had much luck keeping deer out after trying resistant plants, electric fences and repellants, it may be time to consider building a rooftop garden.

One Response to “Keep deer from your landscaping and garden”