You CAN Have a Garden that Deer Won’t Destroy

Steve Calloway

More homeowners these days complain about the proliferation of deer in their communities, and how every year they turn their lavish colorful perennial gardens into half-eaten, run-down patches. They are discouraged seeing their beautiful hostas, day lilies, roses, black-eyed susans and even evergreens eaten or stomped into the ground.

Based on research and years of experience, I would like to share with you ways that my company Garden Green is planning and planting attractive colorful gardens that can minimize the devastation from deer in your yard.

There are two ways we approach the problem. First, for established perennial gardens of vulnerable plants including those mentioned above, we place deer deterrent plants along borders, or at entry points to discourage deer from entering.

For instance, Native American flowering plants in the genus monada give off a bee balm, a powder that deer don’t like to brush up against. Monarda bradburiana has a pink flower that blooms in late spring. Monarda dittima blooms in early summer; monarda fistulosa is a taller plant that can tolerate more sunlight, and blooms in mid-summer. Strategically planting these around your garden can keep deer away.

Then there are deer resistant plants; those that have a fragrance or taste that deer are known to avoid, or berries that don’t agree with them. These include native American plants like quinine, with serrated leaves and white flowers that bloom in late spring, skullcap, whose elegant bluish white flowers bloom in late summer, and rattlesnake master, showing unique spiky white flowers that attract orbiting skipper butterflies.

False dragonhead is a hardy plant with good, whimsical growth and pink flowers that bloom in late summer and early fall. Lilacs and American beautyberry are also deer-resistant colorful flowering shrubs. Beautyberry has its greatest effect in the fall. Glossy metallic purple berries retain their color until winter, and deer just don’t like the way they taste.

There are also deer-resistant grasses that are attractive all year long, like sedges, beak grain, prairie dropseed, bottle brush and Indian grass, all hardy native plants in different heights with beautiful seedpods.

Another way to deter the damage from deer is in selecting the size of trees and shrubs. It is better to buy those that are beyond saplings, with good bulk. Deer like to feed on the juvenile growth of smaller saplings, and they are more easily trampled.

This is just a small sampling of our solutions for lavish, colorful gardens even where the deer seem to be feeding on everything in sight.

Steve Calloway is owner of Garden Green Horticulture Service. They help homeowners select the plants, trees and shrubbery that best meet their aesthetic desires and that will thrive in their sunlight, soil and moisture conditions. They also work to revitalize and restore gardens, to help homeowners with the changes that will make their yards better year after year.

You can call or email Steve for a complimentary consultation in your yard, to identify your plants and advise on how to keep them healthy and looking their best. You can reach Steve at 314-288-5036 or clm

You CAN Have a Garden that Deer Won’t Destroy