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Wallace Landscape Associates: Deer Browsing

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A carpet of woodland phlox and euphorbia perennials used as a woodland groundcover. Small ornamental tree is a cut-leaf maple.

Deer are plentiful in our suburban neighborhoods, eating about 10 pounds of foliage per day, which is considerable if they are eating your favorite hostas or azaleas. This can become frustrating for homeowners who aim to enjoy fine gardens as a part of their landscape design. One way to protect your garden is the installation of eight-foot deer fences, which guarantee protection from deer browsing, but are unattractive, expensive, and often are not an option due to municipal or H.O.A. regulations. So, how do we create wonderful gardens if deer fencing is not a good choice? When designing a new landscape or rebuilding an existing garden, the first step is to partner with a Landscape Architect experienced with these challenges.

Golden carex provides an otherwise dark woodland a pop of color at this residence in Delaware.

At Wallace Landscape Associates, creativity and practicality are the corner stones of our design solutions. Deer deterrence is simply another issue we consider in designing a landscape. Our first line of defense is always thoughtful plant selection. There is a rich palette of plants that deer will not eat; those with foliage that are fuzzy or hairy, prickly, poisonous, or leathery and fibrous. They will also not eat plants with strong fragrance. But because deer can’t survive on eating grass, they will eat everything but your ornamental grasses. Each property has distinct patterns of deer grazing and understanding this becomes a part of the landscape design solution.

Backyard patio in southern Chester County – Amsonia (perennial, plant in foreground) Abelia Little Richard (small shrub with burgundy leaves and pink flowers), ornamental grasses, Black Stone pine in background (evergreen shrub)

Deer do not like to jump into enclosed spaces where they feel uncomfortable. In residences with a swimming pool, a pool fence at least four feet high is a requirement, so using simple elegant fencing can be a part of the solution. This is not an absolute deterrent, but positioning the fence on an upward slope, planting outside the fence and placing boulders or river stone outside the fence all help to prevent deer from jumping over the fence. Place vegetable gardens inside the pool fence perimeter to protect your vegetables while eliminating the need for too many fences.

Close up photo of Hibiscus (perennial with dark burgundy leaves and pink flowers), lambs ear (gary foliage perennial), and small Cut -leaf Maple tree

Buck rub is another potential problem, particularly with young single-stem deciduous trees. This is usually resolved by simply protecting the young trunks with a tree guard until they grow to a mature size, when it is no longer an issue.

All gardeners have a few favorite “must haves” that deer also love. When locating these favorites, plant them as close to the house as possible, and continuously use chemical deterrents and repellents to keep them away. The key to success is smart plant selection and pruning out deer damage with professional gardening.

Hillside of salvia and yucca with Norway Spruces (evergreen trees) in the background. All plants are deer resistant and no chemicals and fencing were used to keep deer out.

For Wallace Landscape Associates to join you in creating a garden setting that will enrich your life each day, call 610-444-6161.

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