You carefully planted those trees and shrubs. You fed them, watered
them, watched them grow, slowly but surely. Then one morning, they
didn't look right. When you got closer, you saw why. Uninvited guests
- the four-legged kind - have feasted on that succulent, tender
However much you enjoy the sight of backyard wildlife, finding deer
and other critters chomping on your plants is something you'd probably
rather avoid. The solution is twofold: Repel the critters so they move
on and forage elsewhere, and create a landscape filled with plants
that deer do not find attractive.
If your landscape is already established and you don't relish starting
over, your best bet will be the use of an effective repellent.
criteria: It has to be humane, safe around kids and pets and
environmentally friendly. Ideally, it should be fairly simple to use,
and of course it should keep the critters away from your plants.
A product that Cheryl and I have been using seems to meet all those
requirements. It's called Liquid Fence Deer and Rabbit Repellent. It
consists of a funky-looking 48-ounce pressure sprayer that comes with
a 6-ounce bottle of concentrate that you dilute with water.
You create the pressure by pumping the handle a few times.
Incidentally, it doesn't require a lot of effort so it would probably
be ideal for garden enthusiasts who suffer from arthritis or muscle
fatigue. One 6-ounce bottle of concentrate will treat about 1,500
We've also used an all-natural product named Deer Stopper that you
might want to investigate. It actually smells quite pleasant, to
humans if not to deer.
If your plant predators are attacking from underground, the Liquid
Fence people make a product called Liquid Fence Mole & Vole Repellent.
Again, it is not a poison and is harmless to pets and children. Moles,
voles and gophers find that it makes plant roots taste unpleasant and
they move on to feed elsewhere.
They also make products to repel cats, dogs and squirrels from
invading your landscape. So far as I know, there isn't one called
Neighbor's Kids Repellent. Unfortunately.
If you can't find the products I've mentioned, or if you have
questions about them, you are welcome to contact me at
If you are just now planning your landscape, or if you are ready to
start over and you anticipate problems with deer, it makes sense to
select plants that deer don't want to eat. Here are a few you could
Cedar Green Giant Regular readers know that this is one of my favorite
trees for so many reasons. It's fast growing, adding 3 to 5 feet per
year, and makes an excellent, dense hedge if kept trimmed to a height
of maybe 6 or 8 feet. It resists drought and disease and is highly
resistant to deer.
Other trees that are rarely deer-damaged: Japanese Cedar, Japanese
Falsecypress, Scotch Pine and Douglas Fir.
Cypress, Dwarf Japanese Sungold A good choice when you need a deer-
resistant evergreen shrub. It has a mop-like form with creamy golden
new foliage on semi-weeping branches.
For more deer-resistant shrubs, try bamboo, barberry, boxwood,
buddleia, Rose of Sharon and European privet.
Pachysandra Green Sheen When you first see this groundcover, you might
think it's artificial because of the remarkable glossiness of its
foliage. It does very well in shady areas and under the canopies of
older trees where nothing much else wants to grow.
Some other groundcovers that deer don't care for: Creeping Myrtle,
periwinkle and wooly thyme.
There's a useful resource available online, hosted by the Extension
unit of the University of West Virginia, titled "Resistance of
ornamentals to deer damage." The Web address is
http://www.wvu.edu/~agexten/hortcult/treeshru/resistan.htm and you can
click on a direct link from this column archived at my Web site,
www.landsteward.org The article provides a lot of information and
includes extensive lists of plants that are frequently damaged and
rarely damaged by deer.
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs
and landscaping to email@example.com and for resources and
additional information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed
newsletter, visit www.landsteward.org
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