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Plant a Garden Bed Deer Won't Eat

By: Garden Gate staff
Tired of deer munching away at your garden? Easy-care plants and a tall fence make up this design for a garden bed deer won't eat.


Is there anything that deer won’t eat?

You’ve maybe tried your hand at planting a gorgeous garden only to see it get mowed down by some hungry deer. After investing time and resources, it can be devastating to watch. But we’re here to cheer you up with some solid inspiration for your space. You might not have this exact situation available in your yard, but you’ll still discover plants that will work well for you and some hard-to-beat tips for keeping the deer away from your precious garden! It’s also likely that this garden will keep other pesky pests out, too. Learn about the details below.

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Plant deer-resistant plants

Althought no plant is 100-percent pest-free, there are plants with strong deer resistance. The bright blooms and interesting foliage in this garden design aren’t deer favorites. So even if they get close, deer shouldn’t disturb these plants too much. Repeat this easy-care shrub and perennial design along the length of a tall deer fence for a border that breaks up the look of the looming structure with multiseason interest.

Go for a deer-resistant ground cover

Start with a spreading ground cover at the front of the border, such as ajuga. Even when this ‘Bronze Beauty’ finishes blooming in early summer, its foliage creates a thick carpet of color that looks good through the rest of the season.

Add color & texture along your deer fence

Rely on heat-loving coneflower and agastache for lots of bright color. A newer, more compact coneflower variety, PowWow Wild Berry blooms through late summer, with some flowers lasting until frost. The foundation of this planting — Japanese maple, bluebeard and switchgrass — creates lots of interesting texture and height contrast along the fence.

Deer won’t eat your plants with the right fence

At 8 ft. tall, this fence discourages deer from jumping. Its height isn’t the only deterrent, though. Most of the fence is solid, and deer don’t normally jump into an area when they can’t tell what to expect there. Always check city ordinances first before installing a tall fence. And it helps to have a 2-ft.-tall lattice border like the one shown here to add extra height to the structure and help with air circulation in the border.

Make sure the fence’s entire perimeter is well-anchored into the ground. Dig in 2 ft. of chicken wire in an “L” shape below the fence to keep out deer and any other burrowing pests that try to scramble underneath. Then staple the top edge of the wire along the bottom of the fence to secure it in place.


Maintenance tips

  • Be sure to leave at least 1 ft. of space between the back of the fence and the edge of the plants at mature size to make it easier to perform fence maintenance later.
  • With a shrub that doesn’t need much pruning and well-behaved perennials, there isn’t much you need to do to keep this garden in tip-top shape. If the agastache looks messsy after it blooms, deadhead it.
  • Ajuga grows quickly, but it isn’t a problem. If you want to fill more holes in the front of the border, just dig up some runners and replant. They should transplant well.
  • Leave switchgrass standing through winter for added interest, and the coneflowers will have seedheads that look good through cold weather, too, so don’t bother cutting back either of these plants until spring.
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Published: Feb. 6, 2020

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