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Preventing Deer Damage in Your Landscape


American Meadows Deer Resistant Wildflower Seed Mix

We have formulated a special deer-resistant wildflower seed mix 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 strips a newly planted vegetable garden, wildflower planting or display of beautiful spring tulips. Yet such backyard deer sightings are increasing in frequency across the country.

Steps to Identify Deer Damange

The first step to managing any pest is to positively identify the culprit. If you suspect a deer has 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.

What can you do to deter deer? The first step is to understand a little about them.

  • Most deer damage occurs in 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, many plants are generally avoided by deer.
  • Click here to skip to our list of Deer-Resistant Plants

Three Strategies for Preventing Deer Damage


 Paeony Coral Charm

Peonies are all generally avoided by deer.

Installing Fences

The only sure-fire way to prevent deer damage is a tall, secure fence. Deer have been known to leap over 7' high fences, so an 8' to 10' fence is necessary for the best control For most homeowners fencing more than a small area isn't an option, both aesthetically and financially.

Applying Repellents

There are several commercially available products reputed to repel deer. Some have an odor that is unpleasant to deer; some have an unpleasant taste. Repellents can be effective in deterring deer, especially if you apply them early in the season before deer have gotten in the habit of eating in your landscape. Of course, many of the repellents used to deter deer are unpleasant to humans, too, so think twice before using them on or near food crops. Some people report success at repelling deer by hanging bars of perfumed soap and/or bags of human hair gathered from your neighborhood hair salon.

Using 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. Be mindful of how the scare devices might affect your neighbors.

Selecting Deer-Resistant Plants

By choosing plants that are unpalatable to deer, you can reduce the amount of damage in your landscape. However, no plant is deer-proof. Hungry deer will eat just about anything. In general, plants that taste bitter or spicy, those with milky sap, thorny plants, and those with hairy or fuzzy leaves are less attractive to deer. Following is a list of plants considered unattractive to deer.


Perennial and Wildflowers
Artemisia
Asters
Astilbe
Bee Balm
Bleeding Heart
Brunnera
Butterfly Bush
Catmint
Columbine
Clematis
Coral Bells
Coreopsis
Dianthus
Echinacea
Ferns
Foxglove
Gaillardia
Geranium
Iris (Bearded, Japanese and Siberian Irises)
Japanese Forest Grass
Lavender
Lenten Rose
Liatris
Ligularia
Lily of the Valley
Lupine
Milkweed
Monkshood
Penstemon
Peony
Potentilla
Russian Sage
Salvia
Sedum
Spiderwort
Veronica
Wand Flower
Yarrow
Fall-Planted Bulbs

Allium
Anemones
Daffodils
Fritillaria
Grape Hyacinths
Scilla

Spring-Planted Bulbs
Caladiums
Callas
Gladiolus

Wildflowers

Deer Resistant Wildflower Seed Mix

Browse Deer Resistant Perennials

  • Phenomenal Lavender

    Starting at $13.98

    Sale: $11.88

    Per Plant - 3" pot

  • Butterfly Weed

    Starting at $14.98

    Sale: $7.49

    Per Plant - 3.5" pot

  • Goldsturm Black Eyed Susan

    Starting at $9.98

    Sale: $7.98

    Per Plant - 3" pot

  • Common Milkweed

    Starting at $14.98

    Sale: $10.49

    Per Plant - 3.5" pot

  • Munstead English Lavender

    Starting at $9.98

    Sale: $5.99

    Per Plant - 3" pot


3 thoughts on “Preventing Deer Damage in Your Landscape”

  • lgoldb

    One should know the difference between "deer resistant" and deer immune. Whjen they are hungry they will eat most deer resistant plants rather than continue "hungry". Beware!!

    Reply
  • susan

    I need help...We have a family of Deer in our cemetery...every year we plant flowers and they come and eat everything...I did buy a Deer repellent stake that lets out a sound when they approuch...don't think it worked they ate my plant...need help...Ty Susan

    Reply
    • Grandma

      Try planting Maragolds or poppies. They don’t eat these at my house until winter and the poppies are gone. Good luck

      Reply
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