By contrast, deer looking for nutrition in acres of manicured turfgrass have much less to choose from: typically a couple of hostas, a few daylilies, maybe some tasty rosebuds. Some, like broomsedge and purpletop grass, were probably already in the seedbank.
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Goldenrods have popped up for the first time this year. Though deer wander around the edges of the meadow each evening, the only lasting evidence of their presence are depressions in the grasses where they curl up to sleep. But where Joe Pye reseeds itself among other species—swamp sunflower, boneset, and blue mistflower—the deer leave it alone.
Sometimes those repellents come in the form of more plants, even dead or invasive ones. Allowing the surrounding lawn or whatever is left of it to grow taller at the edges of the garden where the plants reside also provides a visual and tactile deterrent. For isolated young trees or shrubs, caging is simplest, but such exclosures may be impractical in larger areas.
The northern bobwhites my next-door neighbor admired in the s are all but gone from our community, having long ago vanished along with the hedgerows and grasslands they relied on for cover and food. Rapid declines of such species are now the norm; witness the passenger pigeons, who went extinct when the last one died in a zoo in , just decades after millions of them still filled the skies across much of North America. My small suburban plot of land is living, vibrant proof.
More deer-specific information is available from natural resources agencies, universities, and hunting organizations that post guidelines for creating deer food plots. Tammi is also profiled in my book as a humane gardening pioneer. What a lovely post, Nancy, and one that speaks to me.
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Deer often wander into our front yard in our fairly heavily populated neighborhood in Silver Spring, although only at night. I feel wonder at seeing them, but also a sense of guilt for our role in shrinking their habitat. I have a few lilies and hostas in my front yard, and the deer usually nibble at them.
Thank you for this informative and timely post! I will be landscaping with a permaculture mindset, but also wish to make it enjoyable for as many non-human visitors as possible.
And as an herbalist, I appreciate your support of plants such as the jewelweed and staghorn sumac. I only recently discovered your writing, and am already informed and delighted.
Hi Ruth, that is great! I love to hear when people with compassion and concern for wildlife buy any property, but especially ones of that size and larger. You can really help a lot of animals there. Great info as usual. And try to attract only to areas where they would be safe. Minimize that road kill. Hi Curt! Thank you! I worry about that with all the animals — there are good and bad sides to roadside plantings. Thank you for this wonderful information. I am very lucky to live in a condo complex surrounded with acres of trees, and we also have a meadow. I promote the planting of natives around the complex, with good success.
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I also have the ability to cut down invasive plants. Your story would be inspiring to many. Nancy, That would be fine with me. I live steps away from a town center and have had a buck visit my small fish pond for a drink. He left as quietly as he came once he quenched his thirst.
It was an unforgettable moment. Hi Deb, thank you!
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That must have been magical to see the buck drinking! It is also a really good idea to add the brush piles — if you live in an area where your yard is visible, no one will even notice or care when they are set back in the corners like that. I think we exceeded that already some time ago. We should be humble about our place on the planet. Hi Chessie! So true.
25 thoughts on “Gardening for Deer”
Hi Loret! Thank you very much, Nancy! Compassion and consideration wins! I have been gardening and found your article while trying to find plants to make my garden wildlife, including deer, friendly. I was saddened to find mostly hunter articles. Year after year in city after city, it…. These four horsemen have chosen to join forces and bring the most authentic sounding Metallica Tribute to date. Doors open at 6 pm. Fans have been praising him for forty years, since the days when Guy Clark - the emphatic and acerbic father figure to several musical generations - pointed out the ebullient genius in "Bluebird Wine," a song that would become the first song on Emmylou Harris's first major label album.
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