The Dirt on Adorable Pests: Deer

Updated: Sep 6, 2020

We are all aware of pests that may eat, harm, or even kill plants. Pests, however, do not only refer to insects or bugs. This blog focuses on an adorable type of pest, deer. Deer cause major issues for home gardeners and can cause damage to landscapes. However, there are solutions to help deer ‘proof’ your yard in order to keep these pests away. Deer rely on plants for food and nutrition, but you probably don’t want them eating your favorite flowers or the vegetables you are growing for yourself and your family! Here are our favorite strategies for protecting your plants from these adorable pests:

1. First, it is important to keep in mind the plants that deer seem to particularly enjoy which includes hostas, daylilies, roses, rhododendron, azaleas, pansies, English ivy and so many more. Deers will eat pretty much any vegetable, but they really love peas, lettuce, fruit bearing trees and vines, strawberries, pumpkins, broccoli, peaches, sweet corn, tomatoes and many many more vegetables.

2. One way to protect your favorite plants and vegetables from deer is to use hedges to create a border around your yard that deer cannot get over or through. Deer can’t see through hedges which makes them unable to see what plants are growing in your garden or yard, so this will help to deflect them. Boxwoods are great shrub options to use for hedges.

Babe deer

3. Plant deer tolerant plants along fences and next to non deer resistant plants so that they don’t eat the other plants either. Even if not all the plants are deer resistant, deer will not be attracted to the plants that are next to deer resistant plants they find ‘smelly’. Deer will stay away from thorny shrubs like raspberries and other berry bushes as well, so these are good plant options that will keep deer away.

4. Deer are not fans of fragrant plants such as sage, ornamental salvias, lavender, catmint, garlic, chives, and other herbs. Plants like tall bearded irises and peonies are unattractive and unappealing to deer because they think these plants are ‘smelly.’

Here is a long list of plants that deer find unappealing: yarrow, onion, serviceberry, snapdragon, tarragon, wild ginger, asters, astilbe, barberry, butterfly bush, common boxwood, cactus, marigold, threaded coreopsis, corydalis, daphne, bleeding heart, wood fern, purple coneflower, globe thistle, blue fescue, hyssop, heliotrope, juniper, mint, daffodil, and the list goes on and on. Deer do not like sharp or prickly plants, so use texture in your garden to steer deer away. Lamb’s ear and mullein are great options to plant that deer will avoid. Gardeners have started to plant onions along the perimeter of their garden space to deer ‘proof’ their gardens.

Deer with spots

5. If you grow plants in pots along the house, deer are less likely to go up to the house to eat the plants.

6. Build fences along a garden or yard that are at least 8’ high since deer cannot jump this high. Another strategy is to put up two shorter fences, one a few feet in front of the other, which will confuse the deer, making them less likely to jump over the fence.

7. Harvest produce as soon as it is fully grown and ready to be eaten so that deer don’t get to it first. This will also help to avoid attracting even more deer to your garden to eat your other veggies.

Deer in field

8. Lastly, adding some sort of level to your yard with steps or slopes will keep deer from getting to the desirable plants since they won’t climb stairs or walk up steep slopes to get to those delicious plants.

There are so many natural, humane ways to steer deer away from your yard and prevent them from eating your favorite vegetables, flowers and plants! We hope this blog post is helpful for you and that you implement some of these strategies into your yard in order to make your space unattractive to adorable pests like deer.

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