Discouraging the Hooved Locust!
Tips for Keeping Deer out of the Garden
It has likely happened to you - you carefully nurture your garden, then the hooved locusts (a.k.a deer) strike! On a sunny summer morning, you take your coffee to enjoy in the garden only to find your favorite plants nibbled right to the ground!
It doesn’t have to be this way.
You can have a beautiful garden that deer will find (mostly) unpalatable. While no plant can be guaranteed 100% deer proof, choosing those that deer dislike eating will keep the dreaded hooved locust searching for tastier fare - elsewhere!
Many of these plants have beautiful flowers. There are old garden favorites. There are ornamental grasses and ground cover that will enrich your gardenscape with texture and shape. There are ferns and flowering plants for shady spots. There are shrubs for foundation plantings and trees for landscape interest.
There are plants for all styles of garden from cottage to japanese. There are foliage plants and enough varieties of flowering plants to keep your garden in bloom from spring through frost.
The deer resistant plant category includes pollinator plants and plenty that are winter hardy. There are annuals, perennials and biennials, spring bulbs and herbs.Where to start?
Swap out the delicious for the unpalatable. Deer are “experiential learners” and will avoid plants that have made them ill. Plants withfoliage toxic to deer include: ferns, baptisia, bleeding heart, daffodils, hellebore, monkshood, spurges and poppies to list a few. Note that some of these may make pets and humans ill as well!
Prickly, leathery and fibrous foliage is tough for deer to digest. They may sample, but after they experience the ill effects of their ding choices, will avoid eating more. Possibilities for your garden: pachysandra, peonies ( a long lasting, hardy garden favorite), many irises, wax begonias and elephant ears.
Fragrant plants are smelly plants to deer! They will turn up their noses (and mouths) at many plants that have scents we love including salvia, lavender and catmint. They avoid peonies, too. The popular pollinator plant monarda (bee balm/bergamot) smells especially foul to deer. Chives don’t appeal (though delicious on human salads). Nor do sage, rosemary, and thyme. (Apologies to the songwriters/singers Simon & Garfunkel).
Fuzzy and hairy foliage doesn’t feel good in their mouths. After a few nibbles they should leave the plants alone. Grow plants with these characteristics. The list includes Lady’s Mantle (alchemilla), tuberous begonias, yarrow (achillea), ageratum and nicotiana.
If using deer repellent, use it regularly, as per the directions. For those garden “must haves” (both for you and the dreaded hooved locusts) there are numerous deer repellents - which smell foul to both deer and humans. These work best if applied frequently and as per the instructions.
Deer fences: make them tall or make them “couture” A deer fence is a possibility, but to be effective they must be at least 8 feet tall. Deer can easily leap shorter fences (winged hooved locusts?). An alternative is to this expensive and somewhat unsightly deterrent is to cover/wrap individual garden favorites with well-anchored deer netting. Each plant to be protected will need its own wrap, a “couture” garment for your plants. It won’t keep deer out of your garden, but it will help keep them away from your (and their) favorites! Vegetable gardens are the exception - they should be fenced. That brings us to the topic of the groundhog (aka the burrowing locust)…but that is another post!
Make this year the year you truly discourage the hooved locust! Our plant sale includes a good variety of plants detested by deer. Ask our garden experts for their recommendations.
The Hanover Garden Club Plant Sale
Saturday, May 19
9AM - noon
The Club Plant Shed at Pine Knoll Cemetery (Off Route 10 South), Hanover, NH