Plants and Strategies for Deterring Deer

Fine Gardening – Issue 217
Photos (left to right):, Michelle Gervais, Jennifer Brown

Last summer I was gifted three gorgeous daylilies (Hemerocallis cvs., Zones 3–10). Selections of a brand-new cultivar, they each featured multitudes of gorgeous yellow, red, and maroon multicolored flowers. I proudly planted them next to my mailbox, only to wake up the next morning to the sad sight of chewed-off stumps with strappy foliage littering the ground. The beautiful flowers were nowhere in sight. Does this sound familiar?

White-tailed deer live throughout North America from northern Canada through Mexico. They are an adaptable species and thrive in part because they can survive in many different climates and eat many different types of plants. Unfortunately, this is not good news for gardeners, as many of our favorites—from perennials like my prized daylilies, to shrubs and trees like hydrangeas (Hydrangea spp. and cvs., Zones, 3–9) and arborvitae (Arborvitae spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9)—are also the favorites of our furry, four-legged friends. In her article 32 Plants for Sun and Shade That the Deer Won’t Devour, deer expert Karen Chapman gives gardeners choices of alternatives to some common plants preferred by deer. But what else can you do to protect your garden?

Below is a collection of articles and videos that will tell you everything you need to know to deter deer from your garden. Learn about effective products and strategies that keep the deer away, as well as ones that you should avoid. Take a trip through the design process behind gardens built from the ground up to be pest-resistant but without compromising beauty and diversity. Add to Karen’s list of deer alternatives with many more plants that deer stay away from. Get regional information from the Northeast to the Southwest and everywhere in between on plants and strategies to keep your garden deer-free. And lastly, learn how to keep even your veggie garden safe from hungry herbivores.

Deer are not the only hungry critters that annoy gardeners. Many of the strategies and plants outlined in these articles will also work to deter other animals, such as rabbits, gophers, and woodchucks. With this information at your fingertips, you have the best chance to save your landscape from the ravages of these pests. Good luck!

—Diana Koehm is the assistant editor.