Like people, deer love the new growth plants put out in
spring. Unlike us, they love eating the
foliage instead of looking at it, bringing howls of dismay from gardeners who
just spent a lot of money on plants at the garden center that are now nibbled
After trying soap, hair, and various repellants, I gave up
and my husband and I installed an electric fence around about an acre of our
property. We use three strands of wire
on metal posts, and we have a gate that folds back unobtrusively into the woods
where the fence crosses the driveway. Electric
fences are easy to install and to maintain, as long as you buy a t-post driver
(about $30) to get the metal posts in the ground. Consider driving the posts your workout for a
couple of days; it’s great for upper-arm strength, and after you install the t-posts,
you can use the tool to drive garden stakes.
Stores like Tractor Supply sell the necessary supplies. Electric fences are not dangerous if properly
installed, and they give a harmless, although unpleasant, shock.
If you have close neighbors who might object to the
electrification of your property, although the fence will keep neighborhood
dogs from using your yard as a toilet, try commercially produced deer
repellants. Deer Scram® is the most effective
product I have found. It contains dried
deer blood, pepper, garlic, and cloves.
Sprinklers activated by motion detectors scare the deer away, too. Just make sure you turn them off before
Another way to minimize deer damage is to compose your
garden of plants deer dislike, although they will eat almost anything if they
are hungry enough. Deer usually dislike
strange tastes and textures, with the exception of roses, which they love. Herbs, mints, and their relatives have unusual
tastes and smells. Deer do not usually
like mints, but be careful with them because they can become invasive. Plant them in a pot sunk in the ground to
contain their roots.
Upright rosemary makes a great small evergreen shrub for
hot, dry places and I have never known them to eat it. Deer avoid the mint relatives Agastache and
salvia. They don’t usually eat
foxgloves, larkspur, or coneflowers. For
spring bulbs, plant daffodils instead of tulips, daffodils do better here
anyway. Deer avoid hollies, boxwood, and
loropetalum. They also dislike
Some of the deer’s favorite plants are azaleas, roses,
camellias, hydrangeas, Indian hawthorns, Hostas, pansies, and tulips. Sometimes you can hide these favorite plants
among or behind less favored plants; plant your tulips and pansies among some
mint and rosemary plants. Plant favorite plants close to the house instead of
at the edge of the woods; deer generally do not venture close to the house,
unless there is a lot of “deer pressure,” which means that there are a lot of
hungry deer and not much food.
Don’t even try to plant a vegetable garden in deer country
without protection in the form of a fence; deer love beans, peas, and lettuce,
and they have been known to watch the tomatoes ripening, just as you do, and to
pluck the one you were planning to harvest the next day from the vine during
Before you purchase plants, find out whether or not you have
deer; your neighbors will know if you do not.
In the Blythewood area, if you have any woods nearby, you probably have
deer. Garden centers, books like “The
Southern Living Garden Book,” and online sites like www.deerresistantplants.com and www.bluestoneperennials.com
offer lists of plants that deer dislike.
Plan ahead to purchase plants deer dislike to save yourself the pain of
walking out to admire your garden to find all the blossoms stripped from your
roses and your shrubs defoliated.
Labels: deer repellents, deer resistant plants