It’s Saturday morning and you’ve just finished your cup of coffee. Motivation is at its peak and your ready to step out into the yard and enjoy the flowers, and then you discover that the deer have already enjoyed the flowers during an overnight party in your yard that you were not invited to. This puts a big halt to the morning’s relaxing schedule of flower enjoyment. Gardening with deer can be one of the most challenging feats in the Texas Hill Country. Luckily, Backbone Valley Nursery has plants, products, and best of all experience so that you can have that perfect yard and enjoy it too.
If you think you are doing the deer a favor by feeding the neighborhood deer populations, then think again. Deer corn is one of the poorest feed types available to deer. Corn is low in protein (approximately 7 to 10 percent) and high in carbohydrates. It will not provide the adequate amount of protein needed for bone and muscle development (Texas Parks and Wildlife – Supplemental Feeding by JR Perkins 1991). Plus, feeding the deer only encourages MORE DEER. I like to think of this scenario as related to teenage children when their parents are away for the weekend. It starts with a few people invited over, but when word gets out that there’s free food and a cool place to crash the whole county shows up, thus creating a situation that quickly gets out of control.
If you feel like you absolutely must do something about the poor deer in your neighborhood, then consider becoming a voice at your local POA meeting and put some funding towards a trap and transplant program to remove some of the native deer population. This is especially important in gated communities where the deer have no other place to go.
So now that we’ve all agreed NOT TO FEED THE DEER, let’s talk about how we can still share our living spaces and not our plants. Several factors play into designing a deer resistant landscape. First off, you need to have a handle on how heavy the deer population is to gauge how heavy the pressure of potential feeding on your plants will be.
Found a great list of deer resistant plants online? Throw it away…..what is deer resistant in Montana is not necessarily deer resistant in Texas. The same concept even applies to local communities. What is deer resistant in Horseshoe Bay is certainly not deer resistant in Sunrise Beach, etc. This is where your local independent garden center comes in handy. Many have experience with deer populations in your area and can help you choose the correct plant for your yard.
Choosing the correct deer resistant plants is a crucial step to a successful deer populated landscape. Keep in mind that even though a plant is marked as deer resistant, it may not be deer resistant where you live, during periods of drought, or during a harsh winter (not typically the case in Texas).
If you plant something new in your yard, it is highly recommended to use a deer spray to spray your new plants with. I recommend spraying new plants whether they are deer resistant or not. Deer are creatures of habit and they will taste any new food source to see if it is edible. Deer don’t take clean bites of plants; they bite and ‘pull’. This could lead to deer pulling up newly planted un-rooted plants to taste them, whether they end up liking the way they taste or not.