So what is a deer-resistant design?
First of all, it's not a deer-proof design. When deer are constantly losing habitat and desperate to survive, they -- like us -- will resort to eating just about anything. They may also "test" new plants before finding out they are not to their liking.
With that being said, many plants are either toxic or unpleasant enough to their palate that they will indeed usually be a last resort. It may also help to reduce taste-testing experiments if you treat new plantings with deer repellent (if you're like me, you won't have the discipline to keep reapplying, but the expense of new plants usually motivates me to apply repellents right after I've watered them in).
So to finally answer the question, a deer-resistant design is a complete set of companion plants that all look good together; fit a particular design need, gardening style, or other theme; and don't typically appeal to deer. More specifically, all these designs include at least one of the following types of plants:
Small tree or large shrub
Plant grown for its foliage
Grass or grass-like plant (sedge, etc.)
Bulb or rhizome
Do you have to plant every plant in the design to use it in your garden? Of course not! It's your garden, so you get to decide which ones you want to use, and in what quantity - or if you want to borrow a plant or two from another design. Our goals with this formula is to:
1) Show you the diversity of wonderful deer-resistant plants, and
2) Give you options to adapt to your particular garden style.
So if you dread planting annuals every year, leave them out. If you only want foliage plants and evergreens, stick with those. And if you can't fit in a small tree, no worries.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Writer & Garden Communicator
Helen developed the concept and plans for Spot On Deer-Resistant Gardens as a result of her own struggles of gardening with deer displaced by rampant development in Metro Atlanta.
She is a regular contributor to gardening and lifestyle publications, and is a Master Gardener in Forsyth County, Georgia. She enjoys taking her own photos for her writing projects, and in her spare time, is a marketing professional specializing in social media and content marketing. Read more about Helen and her work here.
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Helen Newling Lawson