5 Ways to Deter Deer From Eating Your Plants and Shrubs

A deer eating shrubs in a yard.

Protect Your Landscaping Plants and Shrubs This Fall From Hungry Deer

Dreaded Deer in the Garden

When it comes to keeping your yard beautiful and thriving, protecting your garden from cute but menacing deer should be a top priority.

With some exceptions, deer will eat or at least trample on almost anything in your garden, and with fall upon us and the winter months fast approaching here in Greater Boston, suburban deer will want to feast on what’s available.

If deer are starving they will eat almost anything. This typically occurs when there is a heavy snow load or loss of habitat thereby reducing their natural foraging areas. This forces them out into your yard to sample your shrubbery and tulips. 

Why You Should Protect Your Landscaping Plants From Deer

Deer can be an amazing sight in your yard, but once they start feeding on common landscaping plants like your favorite hostas, they become a problem. They severely damage your landscape plantings, reducing them to mere sticks or eating them to the ground. Plus, easily accessible landscaping plants as a source of food will cause deer to congregate, increasing the odds of disease transmission.

Deer are creatures of habit, so once they find your hostas, they will return to finish them off. They eat fresh buds on trees and rub their antlers on tree trunks damaging bark. The best options to deter deer are physical barriers, removing plants they forage on and spraying plants with deterrents.

Top Methods for Deterring Deer in Greater Boston

Planting and Landscaping Tips to Protect Your Yard

1. Build a Landscaping Fence

An image of a fence to keep deer out of a yard.

The absolute best solution that is almost 100% effective is to install a fence. Some deer have the ability to jump as high as 12 feet, so any landscaping fence should be at least eight feet in height and well built so deer can’t jump over or break it.

Deer fences are most often made of welded wire or plastic and almost disappear into the surrounding landscape. A six-foot stockade fence is also effective as deer won’t jump over something if they can’t see the other side.

2. Select Good Landscaping Plants to Deter Deer

Proper plant selection is paramount to reducing damage. Yes, deer will eat almost anything but there are certain plants that they will skip over; it has to do more with the characteristics of plants.

Deer tend to dislike hairy or fuzzy foliage, such as lambs ear, yarrow or lungwort. The amount of “fuziness” isn’t important, as long as they have hairy leaves. Deer won’t touch your ornamental grasses, so plant away.

Also consider fragrant foliage. Most herbs fall into this category including sage, thyme, oregano and lavender. Deer will usually also pass over boxwood, salvias, bee balm and Russian sage. Crush the leaves of a plant before you purchase it and if it has a scent, the deer won’t eat it.

3. Liquid Sprays and Active Deterrents

If it’s too late and deer are already chomping away, some liquid deterrents can be effective. Spray repellents work by using taste and odor with an additive to help them stick to the plant. 

Some brands to try are Liquid Fence and Deer Away. Keep a few bottles by your door as they need to be sprayed weekly, or more if there’s rain.

Scaring deer away can be effective as well. I’ve had my small dogs bark out the windows and it seemed to work for a little while. Motion-activated sprinklers with infrared sensors, however, can work wonders and frighten deer with a spray of water.

Popular Landscaping Techniques to Deter Deer in the Boston Area

At Land Design Associates, we have been helping families with gardening and planting support for many years to help keep their yards looking stunning and stay deer-free! If you want to beautify your garden with popular landscaping plants and shrubs or fencing products and want to consult the experts in regards to deer retention, talk to us and we’ll be happy to help!