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How to Create a Deer Resistant Landscape

Updated on August 2, 2017

With the expansion of suburbs and urban areas deer are losing their habitat. With the mild winters and lack of natural predators deer are becoming more comfortable around humans and are wandering onto our lands looking for food and shelter.

Whether you are looking to provide a landscape that welcomes deer watching and hunting or you are looking for ways to make a more deer resistant landscape, these tips can help provide just what you are looking for in any situation.

Deer Resistants:

It's important to note that unless you plan on building a very tall fence no yard or garden is truly deer proof. If hungry enough they will eat anything and can adapt to eat even "resistant" plants. However, I still think deer resistant or repellent plants are one of the best ways to prevent deer from even entering onto your property. Putting deer resistant trees on the edge of your property and creating narrow pathways and lining them with unpleasant flowers, shrubs, and trees will prevent deer from wandering too far onto your property to find the edible plants. The selection and placement of these plants will have a significant impact on the extent of the damage that deer will cause on your plants and gardens. By placing these undesirable plants on the outer edges of your yard the deer will hopefully move on to find something more edible.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Blue SpruceJuniper TreeJasmine Shrub
Blue Spruce
Blue Spruce | Source
Juniper Tree
Juniper Tree | Source
Jasmine Shrub
Jasmine Shrub | Source

Resistant Plant Features:

Deer are less attracted to plants with these specific features:

  • Prickly or thorny leaves and stems
  • Fuzzy or hairy leaves
  • Herbs or other strongly flavored/scented plants
  • Ferns
  • Most ornamental grasses

Plants and Landscaping:

Trees and shrubs such as Maples, Douglas Firs, Junipers, Wild Lilacs, Blue Spruce, and Jasmine make great property borders, because they make the landscape less desirable for deer. Not only are these trees undesirable for deer they make great homes for a variety of birds that may take up home in your yard. Sugar Maples can also be used to tap for maple sap to make delicious syrup. Many of these trees that are undesirable to deer have great qualities for other animals and landscaping ideas.

Flowers such as Daffodils and Foxgloves are poisonous to deer. Daffodils are especially helpful as they are a spring bulb and will continue to come back year after year, without much maintenance. Many other flowers such as Black-Eyed Susan’s, Iris’s, and Alliums are toxic or cause burning or itching sensations in deer. Growing some of these types of flowers in your gardens can prevent deer from finding the edible ones that they enjoy eating.

Landscaping with plants that are deterrents to deer can be one of the most beneficial and cost effective ways of providing a yard for your family without the intrusions of deer. Keeping the underbrush low and well kept will prevent the deer from bedding down and keeping a semi permanent home in your yard. Picking up fallen fruits and gathering fruits as they ripen, will keep deer from wandering in to eat the easily available foods. Many chemicals that deter deer through scents and tastes can be costly and need to be reapplied to plants in order to work properly. Reapplying chemicals can be a hassle and a pain. Most will wash off after the first rainfall, others are meant to stick to the oils on the plants. This means, that when the plants grow the oils on the new leaves and stems will need to be sprayed.

Homemade remedies can also be made using household items. This is a recipe that requires eggs, red pepper sauce, and garlic. Blend 4 eggs, 2oz of red pepper sauce, and 2oz of chopped garlic with enough water to make 1 quart. Strain the liquid and apply using a garden sprayer. This will make enough for one application for roughly 16 bushes.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Black-Eyed SusansAlliumsDaffodils
Black-Eyed Susans
Black-Eyed Susans | Source
Alliums | Source
Daffodils | Source

Deer Feeders:

When living in a fairly suburban area it is not recommended to feed the deer. Feeding the deer can encourage them to stay in the area as well as reduce their fear of humans. It is also believed that under certain circumstances artificial winter feeding can produce a higher birth rate in the spring. It's also important to note that feeding deer can greatly increase the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease. Chronic Wasting Disease is thought to be spread through saliva, which means that any infected deer that eats at your station can pass the disease to any and all other deer that come in contact with it's left over saliva.

If you have the land and are looking to draw deer onto your property, deer feeders are a great way of doing so. Deer love salt licks and peanut butter. Rubbing peanut butter on trees is a great way to make a trail drawing deer to new feeders. Adding apples can draw the deer to your feeders if rice or corn brand alone is not working. If putting deer feeders in a pasture where cows graze it would be a great idea to raise the feeders off the ground just far enough that the cows cannot get to it, but a larger deer can still reach. You could also use rice brand instead of corn, as cows will usually not eat rice.

Remember deer also feed on acorns. If the area is heavily wooded with Oak trees the acorns will compete with your feeder in the fall. Whether trying to use these feeders for hunting or deer watching try and set up your feeder near a water source, and away from Oak trees. If the area is too heavily populated with Oaks try finding the highest density of deer populations and set your feeder up there.

Setting up a specified feeder can also help keep the deer focused on their favorite foods in a prime location away from your garden.

Deer feeder
Deer feeder | Source

Living with wildlife in your backyard is a great way to teach your children about nature and the importance of providing a habitat for the animals. Living self-sufficiently can be hard with wildlife around, however there are ways we can live together with our furry friends with everyone benefiting.


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