If you live in an area with foraging deer, you've likely watched some of your plants experience browse. But before you give up on gardening altogether, try making your yard less appealing to deer by choosing plants that deer find less desirable.
It's important to remember that unless you build a very tall fence, there is no such thing as a deer-proof garden. Deer will eat anything if they are hungry enough, and they can adapt and eat plants that are considered 'resistant'. However, deer do have their favorites, and they're more attracted to places where their preferred food is easily available.
In general, deer prefer:
Plants with lush foliage and high water content, such as hostas
Early spring plants like tulips, crocuses, and forsythia
Fruiting and berry-producing plants, including vegetable gardens
Deer are less likely to be attracted to:
In this guide you will find a variety of deer resistant plants and their requirements. Native plants to the area are highlighted in purple and are best suited to the conditions of Ann Arbor's soils and climate making them most likely to establish themselves well in your garden. Please keep in mind that when planting native plants it is always best practice to use seeds or plants that are of the local genotype. By no means is this a comprehensive list, but please use it as a starting point.
If you have a plant that you really want that is not deer resistant there are still ways to incorporate them into your garden. Placing plants closest to doors or in commonly frequented areas will decrease the likelihood of browse on the plants. Placing plants in containers that you can bring into a secure area or can create small fenced plots for is also another option.
If you have any questions about deer resistant gardening please email city staff at [email protected]. Also please refer to the non-lethal deer management resource city staff have created for more tips and tricks to deter deer from your yard.