The Q&A Archives: Deer & Rabbit

Question: I'm having major problems keeping the deer & rabbit out of our yard. Their eating most of my perennials and the rabbit is devouring our garden. Can you HELP?

Answer: Wish I had a positive solution, but deer and rabbits are real garden pests. You can try the deterrents available, such as Ropel or Deer Away. It's been my experience, though, that hungry deer will eat almost anything. Some plants may be sampled but not destroyed. However, the plants below are generally thought of as being plants deer do not prefer to eat unless they are starving! Perennials: Achillea, Artemisia, Astilbe, Campanula, Coreopsis, Dicentra, Digitalis, Erigeron,Gaillardia, Helleborus, Malva, Monarda, Stachys, Trollius, Verbena, and Tricyrtis. Some annuals include: Ageratum, Alyssum, Zinnia, Snapdragon and Lobelia. There are quite a few shrubs that deer appear to avoid. Deciduous choices include Berberis thunbergii atropurpurea (Japanese barberry), Cotoneaster apiculata (cranberry cotoneaster), Cotoneaster horizontalis (rockspray cotoneaster), Euonymus alatus compactus (burning bush), Lindera benzoin (spice bush), Picea glauca conica (dwarf Alberta spruce), Spiraea x bumalda 'Anthony Waterer', and Spiraea x vanhouttei. Evergreens include Berberis julianae (wintergreen barberry), Ilex crenata (Japanese holly), Ilex glabra (Inkberry), Juniperis procumbens nana (Japanese garden juniper), Picea abies (bird's nest spruce), and Pinus mugo (mugo pine). As for the bunnies, there are some gardeners who have success in repelling bunnies when they spray their plants with a hot pepper mixture (a few drops in a spray bottle of water). I think this is rather labor intensive, though. I'd opt to screen my plants from the bunnies. Chicken wire 18-24" high surrounding the planting bed or individual plants is very effective. Usually bunnies will go elsewhere if they can't feed comfortably in your garden. Best wishes with your landscape!

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