5 Strategies For Preventing Deer Damage In The Garden

We offer a Deer Resistant Wildflower Seed Mix, formulated specifically for our gardeners with deer problems.We offer a Deer Resistant Wildflower Seed Mix, formulated specifically for our gardeners with deer problems.
We offer a Deer Resistant Wildflower Seed Mix, formulated specifically for our gardeners with deer problems.

While most people enjoy seeing deer grazing in a field, they're less amused when Bambi walks in and snacks on a newly planted garden or display of beautiful spring tulips. Yet, as neighborhoods grow and deer populations increase, backyard deer sightings are becoming more and more common across the country. We'll help you identify deer damage, and share useful strategies for preventing deer damage in your landscape! Plus, see our recommended deer resistant plants, flower bulbs, and wildflowers.

How To Identify Deer Damange

The first step to managing any pest is to positively identify the culprit. If you suspect critters have been grazing in your garden, look closely at the damaged plants.

  • Foliage and twigs eaten by deer have ragged edges. Deer lack upper incisors, so they eat by tearing off plant matter. Rabbits and rodents have upper and lower incisors and leave clean cuts.
  • Another indication is the height of the damage -- deer can reach up 6 feet or more.
  • Most deer damage occurs from late fall through early spring, when the animals' natural food sources are scarce. 
  • A mature buck consumes between 4 to 10 pounds of food each day, including grass and other plants as well as buds and twigs.
  • Deer are creatures of habit; once they establish pathways or a feeding area it is difficult to deter them.

Deer are adaptable and learn quickly. Using a combination of control strategies is usually the most effective way to limit the amount of damage they cause. Although no plant is 100% deer-proof, we have recommendations for plants are generally avoided by deer.

Click here to jump to our list of Deer-Resistant Plants

pink coral peonypink coral peony
Fragrant Peonies are generally avoided by deer.

5 Strategies For Preventing Deer Damage

1. Install Fences

One sure-fire way to prevent deer damage is a tall fence. This method is especially helpful in discouraging deer from entering backyards where pets or people are often active, gardens adjacent to your home, around vegetable gardens, or even around smaller gardens when you may plant some of your prized ornamental plants. When it comes to fencing in large open spaces, deer have been known to leap over 7' high fences, so an 8' to 10' fence may be needed. Though for many homeowners, fencing more than a small area isn't practical, both aesthetically and financially. 

2. Apply Repellents

We work with gardeners across the country, and we've found that gardeners have the most success using deer use repellents. There are several commercially available products reputed to repel deer, such as "Deer Off", which are widely available at garden centers and hardware stores. Some have an odor that is unpleasant to deer; some have an unpleasant taste. Apply them early in the season, when food sources for deer are more scarce, and before deer have gotten in the habit of eating in your landscape. Be sure to reapply as needed, espeically after it rains. Of course, many of the repellents used to deter deer are unpleasant to humans, too, so be considerate of where you use them, especially neat food crops. 

3. Use Scare Devices

Deer are easily startled, so using a motion detector to trigger a sprinkler, trigger flood lights, or turn on a radio will work for a short time. However, deer will quickly become accustomed to them, sometimes within as little as a week. Varying the scare devices every week can extend their effectiveness. However, remember to be mindful of how the scare devices might affect your neighbors!

4. Provide Ample Food Alternatives

Many gardeners have found that simply offering easy access to alternative foods reduces damage ornamental plants. For example, placing feeding stations at the far corners of your landscape can draw wildlife away from the most decorative areas of your garden.

Another option is to plant a buffer or a "living fence" that discourages deer from getting too close to the garden you want to protect. For example, rather than leaving a large lawn area mowed very short, which gives deer easy access to your garden, you may want to plant a large border of wildflowers around your property. Not only does this look beautiful, but it would also give deer an area to graze that's distanced from your more precious plants.

5. Select Deer-Resistant Plants

By choosing plants that are unpalatable to deer, you can reduce the amount of damage in your landscape. In general, plants that taste bitter or spicy, those with bitter milky sap, thorny plants, and those with hairy or fuzzy leaves are less attractive to deer.

A key to deer-proofing your garden with plants: In early spring, young plants are at their greatest risk of being eaten by deer -- even those that are highly deer resistant. Young plants need time to produce enough oils in their leaves and stalks to defend against deer. Deer may be very hungry after a long winter, and desperate enough to make an exception to their normal diet. There are easy workarounds to keep your plants safe:

  • Keep young plants potted in containers until they're big enough to transplant in the garden.
  • Or, drape a lightweight sheet over your outdoor garden beds at night.

Explore some of our favorite plants, including wildflowers, plants, and flower bulbs for a beautiful, deer-resistant garden!


Perennial Plants 

Asters 

Astilbe 

Bee Balm 

Black Eyed Susan

Bleeding Heart 

Brunnera

Butterfly Bush 

Columbine 

Clematis 

Coral Bells 

Coreopsis 

Creeping Phlox

Dianthus 

Echinacea

Ferns 

Foxglove

Gaillardia 

Geranium

Hellebores (Lenten Rose)

 

 

Iris

Lavender 

Liatris

Ligularia 

Lily of the Valley

Lupine 

Milkweed 

Nepeta

Select Ornamental Grass

Penstemon 

Peony 

Russian Sage 

Salvia 

Sedum 

Spiderwort 

Veronica 

Wand Flower (Guara)

Yarrow

See All Deer Resistant Plants

Fall-Planted Bulbs

Allium 

Anemones 

Daffodils 

Fritillaria

Grape Hyacinths 

Scilla 

See All Deer Resistant Fall Bulbs

 

Spring-Planted Bulbs 

Caladiums 

Callas 

Crocosmia

Gladiolus

See All Deer Resistant Spring Bulbs

Wildflowers

Deer Resistant Wildflower Seed Mix

Black Eyed Susan Seeds

Borage Seeds

Coneflower Seeds

Coreopsis Seeds

Milkweed Seeds

Lupine Seeds

Poppy Seeds

Zinnia Seeds

See All Deer Resistant Wildflower Seeds

For Best Results, Combine Strategies

Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet when it comes to deterring deer. Combining several different management strategies is the best way to protect your garden. It is also a good idea to rotate between different methods to prevent animals from growing accustomed to one particular scare tactic, repellent, or other protective measure.

To learn more, read 8 Ways To Critter-Proof Your Fall Bulb Plantings!

Shop Deer Resistant Wildflower Seeds

  1. Deer Resistant Wildflower Seed Mix

    Containing 17 wildflowers that deter deer and other critters, the Deer Resistant Wildflower Mix brings loads of colorful blooms to the landscape. Perennials like Lupine, Gaillardia a...

    Learn More
    Deer Resistant Wildflower Seed Mix Deer Resistant Wildflower Seed Mix
    As low as $10.95
    Per 1/4 Pound
    Containing 17 wildflowers that deter deer and other critters, the Deer Resistant Wildflower Mix brings loads of colorful blooms to the landscape. Perennials like Lupine, Gaillardia and Lance Leaf Coreopsis return and multiply each season, while annual varieties like California Poppy, Zinnia and Scarlet Sage burst into blooms the very first year. Growing well in most regions (zones 1-8), the Deer Resistant Wildflower Mix contains only 100% pure, non-GMO neonicotinoid-free seeds. Guaranteed to grow.
    Learn More
  2. Deer Resistant Wildflower Seed Collection

    Love wildflowers but have hungry deer that tend to snack on your plants? Our Deer Resistant Wildflower Collection is comprised of four different wildflowers, two annuals and two pere...

    Learn More
    Deer Resistant Wildflower Seed Collection Lance Leaf Coreopsis, Blanket Flower or Firewheel, Sweet Alyssum, Zinnia Coreopsis lanceolata, Gaillardia aristata, Lobularia maritima, Zinnia elegans
    $27.95
    Per 1 Pound
    Love wildflowers but have hungry deer that tend to snack on your plants? Our Deer Resistant Wildflower Collection is comprised of four different wildflowers, two annuals and two perennials that deer stay away from. This collection is specially formulated by our wildflower experts to bloom one variety at a time, all season long, filling your garden or meadow with one gorgeous color at a time.
    Learn More
  3. Perennial Lupine Seeds

    A field of Lupine is an amazing sight, with spiky blooms of saturated indigo-blue that last from late spring to summer. Combine them with later-blooming flowers (like Shasta Daisy an...

    Learn More
    Perennial Lupine Seeds Perennial Lupine Lupinus perennis
    As low as $15.95
    Per 1/4 Pound
    A field of Lupine is an amazing sight, with spiky blooms of saturated indigo-blue that last from late spring to summer. Combine them with later-blooming flowers (like Shasta Daisy and Rudbeckia) for an extended season of color. Growing to be about 12-36” tall, Lupine is a great choice for the front of the meadow or garden bed. Extremely easy to grow and deer resistant, this perennial flower blooms year after year. Seeds are 100% pure, non-GMO, neonicotinoid-free and guaranteed to grow.
    Learn More
  4. Zinnia Seeds, Zinnia elegans

    Blooming from mid-summer until frost, Zinnias are some of the easiest wildflowers to grow, adding their bright, cheerful color to any sunny spot with enthusiasm. These beloved annua...

    Learn More
    Zinnia Seeds Zinnia Zinnia elegans
    As low as $9.95 Sale $9.46
    Per 1/4 Pound
    Blooming from mid-summer until frost, Zinnias are some of the easiest wildflowers to grow, adding their bright, cheerful color to any sunny spot with enthusiasm. These beloved annuals are deer resistant, long blooming and very prolific - the more you cut for bouquets, the more flowers your plants will produce. Best of all, they are a monarch butterfly magnet! All of the seed we carry at American Meadows is non-GMO, neonicotinoid-free and guaranteed to grow.
    Learn More
© 2020 AmericanMeadows.com All rights reserved