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  • Writer's pictureHelen Newling Lawson

What makes a deer-resistant design?

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 to see if they are 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 plants that all a) look good together; b) fit a particular design need, gardening style, or other theme; and c) don't typically appeal to deer. More specifically, all the designs pn this site (and upcoming book) include at least one of the following types of plants:

  • Small tree or large shrub

  • Evergreen shrub

  • Perennial

  • Annual

  • Plant grown for its foliage

  • Grass or grass-like plant (sedge, etc.)

  • Bulb or rhizome

  • Groundcover

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. The goal 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.

To help you find substitutions, we will also feature a "new" plant every month in this blog. These will be new introductions to the market that either offer a new color or improved selection of a reliable performer, or a new option that may not be on other lists. If you try one of these, please let us know how they perform for you!

Ready? Go check out one of our deer-resistant designs! Don't see one that fits your needs? Ask for it in the comments section!

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