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Cannon: Are deer nibbling in your garden?

POSTED: March 23, 2012 12:30 a.m.

Many Hall County homeowners are struggling with the deer populations that love to nibble on their ornamental shrubs and flowering plants.

Many of our native areas have been replaced with areas of residential homes and as our population grows, so does our need for housing. It is difficult to control deer in residential communities.

From a gardener's point of view, there is nothing more discouraging than to marvel at the beautiful hostas one day and look out your window the next day and all that is left of the plant is broken off pieces and stubs.

How do we live in harmony with our hungry, furry friends?

From a practical point of view, it is hard to fence whole communities or large pieces of land, and repellents may only work until the next rainfall.

Deer-tolerant plants

Planting ornamentals that deer do not like to eat is one of the most sensible solutions. Remember, tolerant is the key word here. Very few plants are completely deer resistant.

Deer prefer new and tender foliage. They are attracted to irrigated plants when the weather is dry, and they love newly planted ornamentals with lush growth. They also love to rub their antlers on small new trees.

There is a good selection of trees and shrubs that are known to have a high degree of deer tolerance. Some trees include crape myrtle, deodar cedar, gingko and river birch. Shrubs include boxwood, gardenia, vibernum and juniper.

Some deer-resistant perennials include coneflower, iris, lantana and dianthus. Deer do not like furry or fragrant plants, so you might include lambs ear and herbs such as rosemary and catmint into your landscape.

If you like more color in your landscape, deer will seldom munch annuals such as verbena, snapdragon, marigolds and many types of begonias. Now is a great time to select and plant some of these plants. The extension office has a complete list if you are trying to accomplish a true deer-resistant garden.

If the deer tend to graze in your yard for lunch, dinner and dessert, avoid plants such as hosta, hydrangeas, flowering dogwoods, black-eyed Susan, pansies and roses. They love them! They also delight in azaleas, clematis and many types of holly shrubs.

Now that I have filled your head with all of these wonderful alternatives you can use to battle the deer, press on. There are many types of plants you can use to help you enjoy your landscape and hopefully win the battle.

Spring plant sale

Don't forget the 2012 Hall County Master Gardener Spring Expo being held on April 6-7 at the Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center in Gainesville. The sale will feature more than 50 vendors with hard-to-find shrubs, trees, perennials and annuals. Look for some deer-resistant plants there.

Wanda Cannon serves as Master Gardener coordinator and horticulture assistant for the Hall County Extension office. Phone: 770-535-8293. Her column appears biweekly and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.


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