At lunch this week my new pal, Courtney Tompkins, was bemoaning the fact that her shady suburban yard has become deer infested. Her hostas were Bambi’s salad bar, leaving behind stalks resembling healthy clumps of celery. That’s my own salad bar, above.
It’s a common problem. One remedy is to use repeated applications of deer repellents, including my favorite, Plantskydd. (The product in its native Swedish is actually pronounced “plont-sheed,” meaning “plant shield” but has been quickly Americanized to “plant-skid”!)
A helpful PDF about using deer repellents is published here by the University of Maryland Extension Service.
But an easier strategy is simply to plant the things deer don’t prefer. Now, it’s true that a deer that’s hungry enough will eat almost anything except the rocks. And there appear to be regional differences among deer: The ones in Denver don’t necessarily choose the same plants as the ones in Des Moines.
In my Zone 5 yard, I have found epimediums, pulmonarias, brunneras and these other perennials do well in shade:
But I now have the best deer deterrent in the world: An 8-foot fence around my back yard!