The Q&A Archives: Deer resistant fern

Question: I would like to purchase ferns to cover a one-half acre hillside with a canopy of Cedar, Pine and mixed deciduous trees. The soil is quite acidic, I would guess. We have lots of deer. I'd like something deer-resistant, naturally, and something that would spread rapidly and serve as a ground cover. Do you sell any ferns that would fit these requirements?


Answer: In my experience, heavy deer traffic and deer browse pressure can severely limit the growth of lower growing plants -- both groundcovers and shrubs and also young trees. Often, rather than trying to select deer resistnt plantings, the better long term solution to the problem is to erect a tall fence. But besides that issue, there are a number of things to consider. With such as large area to cover, you would need to be careful to select a plant that is especially well suited to the growing conditions (for example soil type and natural moisture levels, sunlight, slope/erosion concerns) in addition to being deer resistant. You will also need to be able to weed and water your planting while it is in the establishment phase, and during dry spells the first few years. I would strongly suggest you work with your local county extension and/or professionally trained nursery staff to evaluate the growing conditions and identify plants that would thrive there, then select the one(s) you like best that suit your design goals. Good luck with your project!

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