Oh Deer! What Won't You Eat?

Deer can be a problem for gardeners anywhere they roam.  They can and will eat your favorite plants just before they come into full glory.  A daylily with buds just about to open...gone overnight!  In winter, the snow hits and evergreen shrubs such as Yews, Arborvitae, Rhododendron and Azaleas, and even prickly Holly shrubs are delicious to a hungry deer.  It is very discouraging to have all your hard work dissappear overnight.

So what is one to do?!

1)  Plant plants that they do not like. There are many lists one can find online and can use as a guideline, BUT, it is not a guarantee they will not get nibbled on as deer are browsing through.  Generally, they do not like fuzzy leaved or silvery leaved plants or plants with scented foliage.  They will eat anything though if hungry enough. 

2)  Use deer repellents such as Bobbex, or Deer Out or make your own.  Many of the products available contain Eggs, Garlic, Chili Powder, Cayenne Pepper, Soaps and oils such as Mint.  The most important thing to do with the repellents is to use them before the plant starts developing it's tasty buds.  The egg smell will dissipate quikly for humans but the deer will still smell it and go elsewhere to dine.  Shavings of Irish Spring Soap or hung in a cheesecloth bag has worked well too.

3) Scare them off with motion detector sprinklers, lights, or noise.  Aluminum pie plates or shiny ribbons hung on wires between posts will flap in the wind to scare them too.

4) Let your dogs run around the yard.  The barking will scare them away.

5) When all else fails or you want a more permanent solution put up a fence.  Most guidelines recommend an 8' high fence to keep deer out.  There is also temporary fencing such as metal posts and netting to protect select areas in winter. 

Some Shrubs Deer Tend to Stay Away From:  Boxwoods, Diervilla, Elderberry, Flowering Quince, Red and Yellow Twig Dogwoods, Lilac, Potentilla, Rose of Sharon, Spruces, Smooth Hydrangea, Spireas, and Weigela

Some Perennials Deer Tend to Stay Away From: Achillea (Yarrow), Aconitum (Monkshood), Astilbe, Alchemilla (Lady's Mantle), Amsonia (Bluestar), Aruncus (Goatsbeard), Asclepias (Butterfly Weed), Baptisia (False Indigo), Brunnera (Siberian Bugloss), Coreopsis (Tickseed), Dianthus (Pinks), Dicentra (Bleeding Hearts), Digitalis (Foxglove), Echinops (Globe Thistle), Ferns, Iris, Liatris (Gayfeather), Lupinus (Lupine), Monarda (Bee Balm), Nepeta (Catmint), Ornamental Grasses, Paeonia (Peony), Papaver (Poppy), Perovskia (Russian Sage), Salvia (Sage), Stachys (Lamb's Ear), Yucca (Century Plant)