Anna Marissax Gardens May 14th 2020, 00:00:00
Deer are graceful and elegant creatures arent they? The way they leap elegantly, and the soft expression in their eyes takes you back to when you first saw the Disney movie Bambi when you were a child. However, deer are also gourmet diners, nibbling everything from fragrant herbs and grasses to the roses in your garden, the one you worked so hard to plant!
Unfortunately, this problem is becoming worse as housing developments keep being built farther out into deer habitat and as deer keep multiplying rapidly from lack of natural predators to keep herd sizes in check.
Gardeners who live in areas with deer can testify to the relative uselessness of deer fencing, which was allegedly designed to be deer-proof and which only fence salesmen. Essentially, unless you build it 10 feet high, a height that is banned in many communities with home ordinances, it is not the solution. Deer do their worst garden damage from late fall through early spring, and that damage is most severe during very cold winters when snow covers the ground for long periods, increasing the difficulty for deer in search of ready consumables.
A workable and aesthetically pleasing solution is landscaping using deer-resistant plants. There are several reasons a plant can be deer resistant. Many deer-resistant plants are poisonous at some point during their growth, and some are poisonous throughout their lives. Before you begin landscaping, research the deer palatability of the trees, shrubs, and plants you want to use. Do remember that while no plant is 100% deer resistant, some 600 plants have been researched and found to be unattractive to deer.
The scope of this article doesn't allow for listing them all, but a quick search of the Internet will provide research studies that list all of these. To help you get started here's a very general rundown on deer resistant planting:
No trees are sufficiently deer resistant to leave unprotected during their early growing stages; however, caging your young trees until branches grow beyond deer reach works very well.
In the smaller trees and large shrubs category, Agarita, Cotoneaster, Dwarf Yaupon, oleander, rosemary, and cactu discourage deer predation, as do Carolina Jessamine and grey Santolina.
Flowers deer don't much like include Dusty Miller, daffodils, Mealy blue sage, and Mexican mint marigold. All of these are good choices.
For many gardeners, the key is to find a happy medium. Seeing the deer grazing in our yards early in the morning is a true pleasure. Wildlife and gardening just naturally go hand in hand. For some, the solution is to have a large wild garden patch that is offered up as food for the deer while using deer-resistant plants and foliage in the bulk of the garden. Just be careful not to be too inviting or your landscape will be overwrought with deer and there won't be much of a landscape left to the garden.