A hungry deer will eat anything. While no plants are completely deer proof, you can take various measures to make your outdoor environment deer resistant.
Tip #1: Choose deer-resistant plants.
I just said deer will eat anything. Let me rephrase that. Deer will eat almost anything. “Many stunning plants,” says Ruth Rogers Clausen, author of 50 Beautiful Deer-Resistant Plants, “are unpalatable to deer.” These plants typically contain poisonous compounds or have tough and bristly textures.
Garden Design compiled a list of the best choices for deer-resistant shrubs, perennials, annuals and groundcovers. Maybe your next landscape project should include some of these.
Tip #2: Install a 6- to 8-foot-tall fence.
Deer, as you may have seen yourself, can jump extremely high. The U.S. Department of Agriculture rates some deer being able to jump 15 feet high! But don’t worry. If you install a fence approximately 7 feet high, a deer isn’t going to jump it. The reason? Their eyes, positioned on the sides of their head, cannot see the top of the fence. Thanks to nature, you don’t have to build a 20-foot wall.
Tip #3: Use deer repellents.
Deer repellents are very effective. But be warned: they need to be applied often to maintain their effectiveness. Some local pest control companies offer deer management programs. A deer-repellent specialist will visit your property on a regular basis to spray your plants. The service can be very expensive, though.
You can DIY easily, but you’ll need to regularly apply the repellants. If you decide to battle the deer yourself, you have two options: liquid repellent and a granular or “clip on” repellent. If you go the liquid route, apply as new plant growth appears — and especially after it rains. Liquid repellents with spreader stickers help keep the repellent on the plant. The second option, granular or clip on, requires you to make a border around the plants. A little moisture helps activate the product and increase its effectiveness, so applying the product on a humid day should help your cause.
Tip #4: Install motion-activated sprinklers.
These motion-activated sprinklers will scare deer away. Look for an infrared model that works during the night. The best motion-activated sprinklers are taller and battery operated. Try moving the sprinkler around every couple days to cover different areas. Whenever the deer triggers the sprinkler — whammo! The deer gets wet and shouldn’t bother you again.
In the meantime, hopefully, Bambi will skip your backyard this season and ransack your neighbor’s house instead.
Matt Supler is co-owner and vice president of New Vista Enterprises. Founded in 2000, New Vista designs, installs and maintains breathtaking outdoor environments for clients throughout Northeast Ohio. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Landscape Horticulture. Connect with Matt via LinkedIn.