Deer resistant foundation shrubs - Knowledgebase Question

Mendham, nj
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Question by sgamgort
November 10, 2005
My area is being overrun by voracious, aggressive deer! I am looking for deer resistant, evergreen, sun loving shrubs to plant along the foundation of my house. I already have a number of boxwoods which the deer don't touch so would like to find something to complement the boxwoods. I heard pjm rhododendron might work but both my landscaper and tree guy said no way, don't waste your money!! Any thoughts? Thanks!

Answer from NGA
November 10, 2005
I'm really sorry you have such a deer problem. If boxwoods are working you might just stick with them. 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.

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