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A Deer-Proof Landscape Plan: Deer-Resistant Plants

Deer-Resistant Ornamental Grasses

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Deer-Resistant Sea Oats

"Sea Oats" Ornamental Grass

Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden

So you'd like to use deer-resistant plants, perhaps in a garden border that includes ornamental grasses? But you're looking for a landscape design plan in which to incorporate them effectively? The present page suggests and describes one possible landscape plan of deer-resistant ornamental grasses and other plants. This description is supplemented by a Free Landscape Plan. Refer to the plan while following the description below.

The plants in this landscape plan are arranged along a fence to decorate a border area in a sunny area in your yard. The landscape plan I'm suggesting is composed of three rows, with the tallest plants (a shrub and tall ornamental grasses) in the back row. The shortest plants (groundcovers) will populate the front row of the landscape plan, while those of medium height will reside in the middle row.

The Back Row: Ornamental Grass, Red Osier Dogwood Shrub

Northern sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) is an ornamental grass that grows 24"-36" high in loose clumps of green foliage (for a picture of this plant, see photo above). Its name derives from its seed pods, which look like oats. This deer-resistant ornamental grass is cold hardy to zone 5. Ornamental grasses, even after their leaves have dried and died, provide visual interest to the winter landscape.

Red osier dogwood (Cornus sericea 'Allemans') puts out white flowers in May that are followed by white berries (for a picture of this plant, see photo on Page 1). But deer-resistant red osier dogwood is grown primarily because of its bark, which ranges in color from red to burgundy. Its height is 6'-10', its spread 5'-10'. A patch of fiery red osier dogwood against a backdrop of pristine snow makes for an unforgettable winter scene. Zones 3-8.

The Middle Row: Lavender and Yarrow

English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is considered by humans to be an aromatic herb (for a picture of this plant, see photo on Page 1). But deer don't seem to concur; they don't care much to eat it, at least. This perennial can be grown in zones 5-8. Traditionally lavender has been cut, dried and placed in linen closets, making good use of its pleasing aroma. Like most herbs, lavender needs a well-drained soil. Reaching approximately 2' x 2' at maturity, this intermediate-sized plant will fit nicely into the middle row of this deer-resistant border.

Yarrow plants (Achillea) are herbaceous perennials grown in zones 3-8 in well-drained soils. Yarrow plants come in a variety of colors, including the white yarrow we see in the wild, as well as the common yellow. But for something different, try the red color of "Fireland" Yarrow (Achillea 'Feuerland'), which can grow up to 3' high, with a spread of about 2' -- another plant that's the right size for the middle row of our deer-resistant planting.

The Front Row: Dwarf Aster and Creeping Juniper Groundcover

Most all asters are deer-resistant. "Bonnie Blue" dwarf aster (Aster novi-belgii 'Bonnie Blue') grows only 12" - 18" high, with a spread of 18". This aster grows in zones 4 - 8 in well-drained soils. Its daisy-like flowers are blue with a gold center. Bonnie Blue dwarf aster continues blooming late, providing fall color when most flowers have packed it in for the winter. To promote maximum blooming and most compact growth habit, pinch it throughout the first half of the growing season (until about mid July).

Golden creeping juniper (Juniperus horizontalis 'Mother Lode') can be grown in well-drained soils in zones 3 to 9 (for a picture of this plant, see photo on Page 1). This evergreen will rise at most 1/2' off the ground, making it deserving of a front row seat. It spreads 8' - 10'. Not only is creeping juniper deer-resistant, it's also drought-tolerant. This groundcover's foliage is a striking gold, mellowing to more of a bronze in winter. Another creeping juniper that you can plant for deer control is 'Blue Rug' juniper.

For the free landscape design plan that shows how to incorporate these plants into your own yard, see Deer-Proof Plan.

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