The Q&A Archives: deer prove shrubs

Question: I need screening shrubs for my yard.The upright taxas I have there now have been eaten by deer.

Answer: Unfortunately there is no deer proof list to send you because deer in different areas have learned to eat different kinds of plants, and in a bad winter the more severe browse pressure can cause the deer to eat new types of plants. And if your property is on their regular browse trail, they will continue to eat in your yard. In my own experience, the best long term solution for a deer problem is a tall fence.

Evergreens in particular are often damaged by deer. One possible exception would be boxwoods, however to thrive in your cold winter climate they would need to be planted in a sheltered area with protection from the winter wind. You would also have to select only from the hardiest cultivars. Boxwoods are also very slow growing. In some areas, the blue hollies China Girl and China Boy seem to be relatively deer resistant as well.

If you can consider a deciduous shrub, then you might look into lilacs, the hardiest forsythias, burning bush, and possibly viburnums.

Your neighbors, your local county extension and local nurseryman may also have suggestions based on their experiences with the deer in your area. Good luck with your landscaping!

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