Deer Proofing Your Yard

Deer Proofing

Deer will eat practically anything in your garden!

Once you accept that, you realize that there is no point in planting tulips where deer can reach them – they think of them as dessert, planted especially for them. Junipers and cedars are a winter delicacy because they need the moisture and nutrients during a time when healthy food is scarce. Here are some ideas to repel them:

  • scatter soap chips around bulbs and flowers, or tie in onion bags or the toes of nylon stockings to trees and shrubs at deer nose height, or tie to the tops of stakes in a vegetable garden. Deer don't like the smell of soap, so use smelly stuff.
  • add a decorative top layer to a fence they can't jump, tilting outward
  • deer repellant liquids that taste terrible to deer can be painted or sprayed on tree trunks. Some can be sprayed on plants as well – read labels carefully. They must be repeated periodically and after rain.
  • urine of predator animals can be effective, will need to replaced periodically and after rain.

Here is a list of plants said to be not eaten by deer (no guarantee!):

  • ageratum
  • alyssum
  • aster
  • bachelor button
  • basil
  • borage
  • calendula
  • caraway
  • chamomile
  • cosmos
  • dill
  • geranium
  • gomphrena
  • hollyhock (annual)
  • licorice vine
  • impatiens
  • lotus vine
  • marigold
  • nasturtium
  • nigella
  • petunia
  • portulaca
  • salpiglossis
  • salvia (annual)
  • scabiosa
  • snapdragon
  • sunflower
  • stocks
  • tithonia
  • verbena
  • wax begonia
  • zinnia
  • ajuga
  • allium
  • artemisia
  • armeria (sea thrift)
  • aster
  • baby's breath
  • black eyed Susan
  • bleeding heart
  • bellflower
  • cactus
  • chives
  • columbine
  • corn flower
  • coral bells
  • coreopsis
  • cranesbill
  • day lily
  • delphinium
  • dusty miller
  • ferns
  • flax
  • forget-me-not
  • gaillardia
  • gas plant
  • heliopsis
  • hesperis
  • iris
  • lady's mantle
  • lamb's ears
  • lamium
  • lavender
  • liatris
  • lily
  • lily of the valley
  • lungwort
  • lupine
  • ligularia
  • lychnis
  • mint
  • monarda
  • monkshood
  • mullien
  • nepeta
  • poppy
  • penstemon
  • peony
  • phlox
  • rose campion
  • Russian sage
  • sage
  • salvia
  • sea holly
  • sedum
  • silver mound
  • speedwell
  • veronica
  • yarrow
  • allium
  • anemone
  • daffodil
  • gladiola
  • bean
  • beet
  • carrot
  • chives
  • corn
  • cucumber
  • currant
  • garlic
  • leek
  • onion
  • potato
  • rhubarb
  • spinach
  • squash
  • tomato
  • turnip
  • zucchini
Shrubs & Trees:
  • ash
  • barberry
  • birch
  • buffaloberry
  • caragana
  • clematis
  • cotoneaster
  • currant
  • daphne
  • dogwood
  • elderberry, red
  • lilac
  • Manitoba maple
  • mugo pine
  • nanking cherry
  • pear
  • potentilla
  • rose (rugosa)
  • Russian olive
  • spirea
  • spruce
image here

Other Pests

Dog Damage:

Dog damage on evergreen needles causes dark needles because the urine is high in nitrogen and burns the needles.

Dog damage can be controlled somewhat by hosing the needles regularly with a strong stream of water. Creating a barrier so dogs cannot get close enough to the tree to spray is the only preventative measure.


Rabbits chew bark at the base of trees and can kill the tree if it circles most or all of the diameter of the tree. Water moves up the trunk of the tree just below the bark. If this layer is damaged or gone, water cannot move up to the rest of the tree, and it dies. Painting or covering does no good - it does not create channels for water movement.

Wire cages that keep the animals away from the trunks will prevent damage. Remember that they must be higher than the rabbits can reach when on the deepest snow expected. Products are available that have a bitter taste, cause no harm to animals but deter them. They are painted on lower tree trunks.

image here


Voles look like mice but they have longer noses and shorter tails. Voles do not hibernate, as mice do, and tunnel beneath the snow, chewing the bark of shrubs at ground level. The shrubs die above the damaged area as water cannot move up the trunk where the channels below the bark are destroyed. They will usually produce new growth from the root system.

Voles can be trapped with mouse traps or poisoned (be sure it is underground and not accessible by pets). Rocks can be used to plug holes, but none of these is completely successful. Voles live in new areas that were recently their homes. They will eventually move to a less 'peopled' place. where lawnmowers and kids playing football don't disturb them.

Sapsucker Damage:

Sapsucker damage is identified by the rows of D-shaped holes in branches and small trunks of trees. A sapsucker is a bird that resembles a small woodpecker, with a red head, a black and white striped back and a yellow breast. It hammers trees to find insects and also collects the sap that oozes out.

There is no chemical deterrent. Dangling ends of metal cans or small aluminum tart tins from areas of the tree they are feeding on, so they swivel and catch light, can discourage them.