The Q&A Archives: vines-hardy animal safe

Question: I have 200 feet of 8 ft tall wooden fence that I would like to cover massively with a vine We have major animal (deer, rabbit being the worse) problem. They eat everything wasting big bucks on landscaping. Thinking of Boston ivy or Virginia creeeper. Have no clue which will work or how much to plant??? Thanks I'm desperate to get rid of my beige wall.

Answer: It is nearly impossible to give you a reliable listing of plants that deer will or will not eat -- I have seen our own local deer eat many things listed as supposedly unattractive to deer. Unfortunately, these are adaptable animals and they will learn to eat new plants when there is a harsh winter or a food shortage or when new things are planted along their usual browse path. So a list from one area will not necessarily be applicable to another. The best you can hope to do is check with local neighboring gardeners and find out what the local deer population already recognizes as edible, which plants they are having the best and worst luck with, and plant accordingly. (Your local county extension may also have some suggestions.) It is also worth mentioning that deer can do almost as much damage by trampling as by eating and since they are creatures of habit, if they already dine at your house they will continue to come onto your property to do so if at all possible. In my own sad experience, a tall fence is the only reliable long term defense against these creatures, especially in an area where the pressure is severe. Repellents may also be effective if consistently applied and reapplied according to the label instructions, but this is a lot of work if your plantings are extensive.
Having said all that, here are some lists.You may need to cut and paste the complete url into your browser.

Rabbits are another problem altogether. The population tends to be cyclical, and encouraging their predators (foxes, snakes, hawks, etc.) can be the best way of naturally controlling the population. Otherwise, you will need to fence them out as well. This usually means wire mesh fencing extending two feet above the snowline and also extending underground and outward so they can't dig under it. Or, individual plants can be protected as outlined at the following web site.

As far as specific plants, I have not personally seen deer or rabbits in particular bother the native Virginia creeper. (However, it is attractive to Japanese beetles in years when the beetles are heavy it will be defoliated.) This is a huge vine once it becomes established and starts to grow. It can grow as long as fifty feet and is a rampantly fast grower beginning about the second or third year. I would plant about thirty feet apart. It will look silly at first but it is better not to crowd them in my opinion. As a side note, the tracery of vine in winter is very attractive. A drawback is that the sticky feet it uses to cling are not removeable.

I hope this helps.

I hope this helps!

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