Bucks fighting in client's back yard. Photo credit: Liz Allen, all rights reserved.
People aren’t the only living creatures who will appreciate your beautiful outdoor living space. Wildlife, particularly deer and rabbits, may be drawn to your garden retreat, confusing it as an open invitation to feast on your beloved annuals, perennials and foliage. Hostas, tulips, sweet peas, morning glories, forsythia, honeysuckle, roses, irises, lilies, and young trees and shrubs are all examples of tempting offerings.
Some plants, on the other hand, are not appealing to foraging palates. Deer and rabbits are not partial to plants with thorns, strong odors or flavors (think herbs), sap, thick, furry or rough-textured leaves, or succulents. Consider alternatives like alliums, lavender, poppies, daffodils, hardy geraniums and columbine.
If you simply must have palatable plants in your landscape, consider adding some wildlife repellents such as human or dog hair or scented bar soap. There are other commercially available deterrents, but what repels deer may not keep away rabbits.
Preventive options include keeping your yard free of brush piles and installing wire fencing at heights appropriate for keeping out deer or rabbits.
Rutgers Cooperative Extension has published an extensive list of plants and their relative deer resistance. This is a great place to start when looking for deer proofing your landscape! I recommend viewing the pdf file, as it is organized a bit clearer into plant groupings.
Anna and her husband Todd own Arcadia Gardens, LLC a Stevensville, MI based landscape design and build company. Her degree in Horticulture with a focus on landscape management from Michigan State University allows Anna to select plants specific to on-site conditions and with maintenance requirements that suit the client's needs. She is comfortable designing across a range of styles- from contemporary to classic- and makes a point include the client's input throughout the design process. She is an active member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers and is serving as 2014 President of the APLD-Michigan Chapter. Anna has recently contributed to media such as "The Designer" and Gardendesign.com and is qualified to speak on a variety of topics from landscape design and maintenance to addressing local garden clubs and organizations.
PO Box 88
Stevensville, MI 49127