A garden is like a free buffet for deer; flowers, shrubs, grass, veggies, and tree bark are delicious treats. Sometimes thorns won’t even stop them! It’s just a toothpick before they carry on to ravage another backyard. We will cover the basics of identifying deer damage in your garden and how you can deter them.
How to Tell If Deer Have Been in Your Yard
If you haven’t managed to spot any deer in your yard, but you’re suspicious that they might be snacking, you can look for a couple of signs. If you notice jagged edges on your plants or missing leaves, especially on plants with high water content like hostas and rhododendrons, or your trees have stripped bark, this is likely deer damage. Even if they don’t eat everything available, they may trample your other plants, which can cause significant harm.
If you want to try and plant shrubs that will create a border to keep the deer damage to a minimum, we recommend giving these a try. Keep in mind that deer will eat nearly anything if they’re hungry enough, so we can’t guarantee that these will be damage-free, but it’s worth a shot.
- Juniper – this plant is heavily fragrant, which tends to keep deer away since they don’t like strong smells.
- Bayberry – this drought-tolerant shrub is native to eastern North America and has a strong fragrance that deer tend to avoid.
- Potentilla – its lovely yellow blooms are gorgeous in your garden but deer don’t like the taste, making it a great option for your landscape.
- Spirea – you won’t be sacrificing beauty for function with this shrub. It has great texture and beautiful blooms, but the deer won’t appreciate it as much as you will!
We recommend planting Achillea, Allium, grasses, Lavandula, Nepeta, Salvia, and Thymus in your flower beds or a spring container for their deer repellent properties. Peonies and sages are also good options as they have strong scents that tend to keep deer away. You can spray your plants with a repellent such as Plantskydd if you’re looking for some extra deterrent power.
If preventive measures against deer damage are not working, here are some things you can try to keep the deer from causing more damage. The best strategies involve smell and noise.
- Spray flowers and plants with deer repellent. Repellents usually have combinations of bovine blood, eggs, garlic, milk, dish detergent, and tabasco. The stinkier, the better.
- If you’re looking for an organic option, we recommend Plantskydd, which is available at our garden center.
- Add scented deterrents to the perimeter of your garden, such as spraying mixed rotten eggs with water.
- Place soap or mothballs around your yard.
- Place a radio outside and change the station every so often, or hang wind chimes or pie pans from your trees.
- Cover your shrubs with netting.
- Hang hair clippings in nylon stockings from trees. The scent of human or dog hair will keep the deer away; be sure to change them every couple of weeks.
- Surround your garden with an 8-foot fence; it can be shorter if there isn’t a lot of space for the deer to have a proper ‘launchpad.’
While these solutions may not feel glamorous, a half-eaten garden isn’t very satisfying when you’ve dedicated so much time and effort to making your landscape beautiful.
How to Save Your Damaged Plants
You may not be able to save all of your plants from deer damage, but there are a few things you can do to encourage healthy growth and set your plants up for a successful recovery. Start by assessing the damage; if it’s a few leaves bitten, your plant will likely recover with new growth and a bit of time.
If the stems are looking a little mangled, you can prune the plant back to healthy growth and let it continue from there; however, we highly recommend applying Plantskydd or building a barrier to protect the plants from repeat deer-snacking. Fertilizer and water will help give your plant some energy to recover. If your plants are beyond repair, it might be best to uproot them and replant or make room for other plants to spread.
If you are looking for deer-resistant plants and deterrent supplies in Moultonborough, visit us at Stephens Landscaping Garden Center. We’d be happy to offer our advice and recommendations to protect your yard. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram for updates and featured products.