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Gardening with Deer
 
Deer Feeding Habits
2009 Summer Study
Joanna Noack conducted a study in the summer of 2009 on 
Deer Feeding Habits with Vegetation 
Examples of three test gardens: 
Garden 1
"Plants Deer Prefer"
(Untreated with repellents) 
Garden 2
"Plants Deer Prefer"
(Treated with repellents) 
Garden 3
"Plants Not Preferred by Deer"
(Untreated) 
Garden Comparisons  
Shows photos of the
three gardens side by side.


Learn what plants, repellents and barriers are available that can help to keep deer out of your garden and landscaping.

Deer Resistant Plants
There are very few plants that are completely deer resistant. Here are some suggestions for selecting plants that are less likely to be eaten:
  • Plants with prickly foliage or brambles (e.g., Globe thistle)
  • Plants with furry leaves (e.g., Lambs Ears)
  • Plants with strong scents or tastes (e.g., Rosemary, Garlic)

Below is a comprehensive list of deer resistant plants:

Repellents
Commercial Scent Repellents (available at many nurseries) 
  • Hinder 
  • Ro-Pel 
  • Big Game Repellent 
  • Bonide Rabbit-Deer Repellent 
  • Tree Guard by Nortech
   
Follow instructions carefully; some repellents need to be reapplied after rain. Some products can be mixed with an anti-transpirant such as Wild-Pruf, For Ever Green, Pro-Tec, or Vapor Gard to give it season-long effectiveness.

A combination anti-transpirant and pest repellent is Bonide Rabbit-Deer Repellent. Chew-Not also repels by taste.

Homemade Repellents  
  • Used cat litter sprinkled around plant 
  • Bloodmeal sprinkled around plants will deter deer and rabbits and will also supply the soil with nitrogen. 
  • Hang on wires 30" above ground bars of strong-scented deodorant soap (in their wrappers) 
  • Egg spray 
  • Tabasco sauce spray 
  • Garlic spray
   
Fences  
  • Use a double fence (two 4-foot-high fences approximately 5 feet apart with 2"x2" mesh). Deer are unable to jump both fences at once. 
  • Cover the most vulnerable plants with chicken wire. 
  • Wrap the trunks of very young trees with wire mesh.
 
There is no guarantee on any of these methods. What works for one person may not work for another. Be persistent and diverse.
  
Other
Deer are not the only animals eating plants. Rabbits, groundhogs, and squirrels also eat plants. Mice, voles, and gophers will eat the underground parts of flowering plants and a wide variety of other roots, bulbs, tubers, grasses, and seeds. Chipmunks also cause plant and bulb damage.

Other control measures and fence alternatives are available in "The Pocket Guide to the Humane Control of Wildlife in Cities and Towns" (ISBN 1-56044-113-5).

Deer Feeding is Prohibited per City Ordinance: 
Sec. 14-91. Deer feeding prohibited.
No person may place or permit placement on the ground or within five feet of the ground any fruit, berries, grain, vegetables, nuts, salt or other edible material or bait which may reasonably be expected to attract or feed deer unless such materials are covered or protected in a way to prevent deer from feeding on them.
(Ord. No. 525, 1, 9-22-08)

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