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Landscaping and White-Tailed Deer

White-tailed deer are becoming more and more prevalent within both urban and rural areas of our county.  They are graceful and elegant animals, but to gardeners they can be destructive and annoying pests causing extensive damage to plants.  Increasing deer populations and shrinking habitat due to real estate development is creating an environment where more interaction between deer and people becomes inevitable.  For safety reasons hunting is not permitted within most neighborhoods and along with the lack of natural predators the deer population has grown virtually unchecked.

 Deer browsing damage can occur throughout the year but it is usually most pronounced between late Fall and early Spring.  The most severe damage will occur during prolonged cold snaps and snow coverage.  Larger deer populations within an area will cause greater competition for food and result in more damage to a wider variety of plants and trees.  A plant not eaten by deer in one neighborhood may be browsed by deer elsewhere – and it just needs one deer to take a bite out of a young plant for severe damage to be caused to the plant (even if the deer dislikes the taste, the damage has already been done).

 One method to protect plants against deer damage is a tall fence, high enough and strong enough to keep out deer.  However, these fences can be unsightly or are often banned by local home owner association ordnances.  A more aesthetically pleasing alternative is to landscape with deer resistant plants.  There are several reasons why a plant may be deer resistant including toxicity, digestibility and taste.  By installing plants into your landscape that are less palatable to deer and by using effective deer repellants you can greatly increase your chance of the local deer population deciding to browse somewhere other than your garden.

 It must be noted and understood that no plant is entirely deer-proof and, as with all landscape contractors, we cannot warrant a plant against deer damage.  We can, however, help you to decide which plants are best for your home environment and are least likely to be damaged by deer.  Living with nature is very appealing to many people, and with good planning it is fully possible to enjoy a beautiful landscape around your home without creating an enticing table for the local deer population.

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