If deer roam through your garden, keep in mind this garden proverb: You can fool all of the deer some of the time, but you can’t fool some of the deer all the time.
OK, I just made that up, but it fits.
Deer can be such dears to endear outside your window until they defoliate your favorite young plants.
Following are some ideas and ways to maintain a nice landscape visited by deer and still keep your peace of mind.
Those graceful, soulful-eyed deer prefer flower heads, tender leaves and new shoots. So grow plants with thick, leathery and untasty leaves that deer detest.
In our area, deer tend to damage gardeners’ plants more during late summer and fall when their natural habitat dries up. It makes sense then to grow plants that flower earlier, and step up the following deer-terrent measures from July to frost:
- Hang heavily scented soaps (a couple slices per susceptible plant) and/or human hair from plant limbs.
- Apply blood meal on some of the leaves every couple of weeks.
- Put your dog in the susceptible spots at twilight time through early morning when deer are more likely to browse.
- Grow patches of fragrant herbs such as lavender and wormwood next to susceptible plants.
- Place chicken wire cages around young susceptible plants, keeping in mind that deer can leap a 7-foot-high fence.
- Avoid the plants that deer love, such as crape myrtle, roses and cherry trees.
- Grow a ground cover of white clover. Deer are apt to browse it over other plants.
- Catch a cougar and make him urinate frequently in your yard.
- Play an endless tape of Rush Limbaugh.
OK, the last two are questionable and the others are merely partial solutions. The best deer protection method is to grow plants from the following list (disclaimer: there are few sure-fire deerproof plants and deer tastes and moods vary).
- Trees. Pine trees, deodar cedar, acacia, eucalyptus, silk tree, magnolia, Japanese maple, strawberry tree.
- Native trees. Incense cedar, redwood, gray pine and ponderosa pine.
- Shrubs. Barberry, bottlebrush, boxwood, butterfly bush, cotoneaster, eleagnus, euonymus, grevillea, holly, Italian buckthorn, juniper, myrtus, nandina, oleander, prunus caroliniana, rockrose, rosemary, sage, santolina, spiraea and smoke tree.
- Coyote brush, Oregon grape, manzanita, redbud, snowberry, toyon and sugar bush.
- Ground covers. Hypericum. Clematis, ivy, vinca, star jasmine and bearberry manzanita.
- Perennials. Agapanthus, ajuga, artichoke, bamboo, black-eyed Susan, cactus, coreopsis, daffodil, daylily, gaillardia, germander, hosta, iris, lavender, mint, red hot poker and wormwood.
- Native perennials. California poppy, blue-eyed grass, columbine, ginger, Matileja poppy, penstemon, yarrow and zauschneria.
- Annuals. Impatiens, squash, sunflower and zinnia.
Marc Soares lives in Redding. He is a landscape consultant for already existing gardens. He’s also the leader of Indigo Brew, a jazz band. Upcoming dates include Feb. 22 and 23 at the Post Office Saloon, and March 2 at Redding’s Old City Hall. He is the director of the West Valley High School Band, and swim coach for the Anderson Aquagators and West Valley High School.
Soares is author of “100 Hikes In Yosemite National Park,” and “Snowshoe Routes of Northern California – The Mountaineers.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.