Deer Problems in the Landscape?
To some, deer season brings fond memories of going up north to a hunting cabin and bonding over tall stories about the one that got away. Still, to many of our clients in southeast Michigan, it means a landscape equivalent to an all-you-can-eat buffet for hungry deer.
No landscape is foolproof, but our design team has a few resources to help create a deer-resistant landscape that is less likely to become a snack.
Think this post doesn’t apply to you because you live in a dense inner suburb? Think again. Deer are highly adaptable to city life.
Protect Your Existing Landscape
Think this post doesn’t apply to you because you live in a dense inner suburb? Think again. Deer are highly adaptable to city life. The ideal environment for white-tail deer is not forest, but grasslands, which means your yard and ornamental plantings can provide a valuable food source during the lean winter months. To protect your existing landscape, there are a variety of commercial odor repellents out there that we have had success with. Mix them up so that deer aren’t used to a particular type.
Another option is to add burlap for shrubs to a minimum height of six feet to avoid grazing. Finally, protect tree trunks from antler rub by wrapping them with plastic or netting during peak rubbing periods. Spring is a dangerous time for a tree, as this is when most growth occurs. Antler rub can ruin the aesthetics of a tree trunk, but more importantly, it may kill the tree depending on the severity. The easiest way to protect your investment is to make intelligent choices for future additions.
Plan for the Future with a Deer Resistant Garden
We have to be realistic about our outdoor environments. A lush evergreen screen is on many a suburban southeast Michigan homeowners’ landscape must-have list, but did you know that arborvitaes and yews are a favorite meal for deer?
No plant list is 100 percent deer-proof; if they are hungry enough, they will eat anything. Deciduous shrubs often work better for heavy deer-ridden areas. This is partly because evergreen leaves are a winter food source for hungry deer. Deciduous shrubs tend to have a quick growth habit—the plant can recover even with an occasional nibble.
Another method to deter deer is to plant what I call herbal plants. Deer dislike the scent of plants in the mint, lavender, and thyme family. Finally, deer shy away from most ornamental grasses; let’s call it a textural thing. Using various plants can help get your garden back on track instead of being a snack.