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Deer-Resistant Groundcover Plants

Perennial Groundcovers Not on Bambi's Preferred Menu


Liriope, or lilyturf

Liriope, or lilyturf, is an ornamental grass effective in deer control.

Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden

You thought you were gaining control over your landscape, replacing the lawn with perennial groundcover plants. You got rid of the turf, planted hostas and mulched them. It looked great – until the deer munched them. You had forgotten about the need to grow deer-resistant plants as groundcovers in areas plagued by Bambi's marauding hordes.

Not to worry. You had the right idea; more and more people are discovering the virtues of perennial groundcovers and mulching. Compared to lawn grass, they save on water. And, of course, you can say good-bye to that temperamental, noisy polluter -- the lawn mower. You simply need to learn about groundcover plants that are conducive to deer control: that is, perennial groundcovers that deer won’t eat (generally).

Fortunately, there is no shortage of such perennial groundcover plants, plus short shrubs such as Blue Rug juniper and Blue Star juniper. Many of the deer-resistant groundcovers are also shade-tolerant, solving yet another landscaping challenge. In addition, plants that humans find aromatic often have the opposite affect on deer: Deer find their smell offensive and leave them alone, making these plants effective for deer control.

In the following pages I look at ten perennial groundcovers to be planted when deer control is an issue. For pictures of some of these plants, click on the picture above on your right (a photo gallery will open up).

Perennial Groundcovers for Deer Control

  1. Allegheny spurge (Pachysandra procumbens) and Japanese pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis)
  2. Northern sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium)
  3. Blue oat grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens)
  4. Liriope or "lilyturf" (Liriope spicata)
  5. Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans 'Atropurpurea')
  6. Creeping myrtle, or periwinkle vinca vines (Vinca minor)
  7. Deadnettle (Lamium galeobdolon)
  8. Catnip plants (Nepeta cataria)
  9. Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum)
  10. Creeping thyme plants, such as woolly thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus)

On Page 2 we’ll begin with a description of the pachysandras, which are among the most common perennial groundcovers used in deer control. We'll look at both Allegheny spurge (Pachysandra procumbens) and Japanese pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis)....

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