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Deer Proof / Resistant Shrubs and Bushes

Deer Proof shrubs

Deer are often the cause of damage to shrubs by two different ways, browsing (eating) or rubbing or both. Damage to shrubs in a garden or landscape has become more of a problem as new homes are built in suburbs that are spreading out into the deer's natural habitat. Deer will also be seen in existing urban development when their populations increase, as they get forced to look elsewhere for habitat. Click here for a list of deer resistant trees.

Here in Wyoming, USA, and in many other US states, the deer population is rising due to many factors, some include; decreasing numbers of natural predators, and more restrictions on deer hunting, thus leaving more deer around looking for something to eat in the winter time!

Gardeners and Landscapers have a number of different methods available to them for deer damage prevention;
  • Use deer resistant shrubs, or deer proof shrubs, even though there are few shrubs that are totally deer resistant. Some shrubs are more deer resistant than others as there are a few factors which influence this described below in Using Deer Resistant Shrubs.
  • Using a fence is one of the best prevention methods against deer damage, as it not only prevents grazing, but will also stop the Bucks rubbing on the stems of your plants too. The fence must be approximately 6ft / 2m in height for it to prevent deer jumping over, however this may be impractical in some gardens or landscapes.
  • Usage of deer repellant. These products have their pros and cons, however as a Landscaper I look for more permanent solutions to the deer problem. Continually having to apply these products in your Landscape over the years can become expensive and tiresome.
  • Use fragrant deer repelling shrubs; many herbs are good for this. Suggested species; most sages, lavender, catnip, mint, oleander, rosemary, wormwood and thyme to name a few. These fragrant sub-shrubs are too overpowering for the deer and they will usually turn the other way.

Using and Buying Deer Resistant Shrubs

Landscaping with deer resistant shrubs will end up being the most aesthetically pleasing way to combat the deer damage problem, as there is no fence to block views or get in the way, or no repellant you have to continually buy and apply all over you landscape or garden.

A shrub can be deer resistant due to several reasons, and many shrubs are more deer resistant than other shrubs because of this. There are few shrubs that are entirely 100% deer resistant.

Factors that influence weather a shrub is deer resistant and how much;
  • Taste of the shrub, if the deer are really hungry, they will eat some shrubs they don't prefer.
  • Digestibility of the shrub will vary with shrub age, growth stage and time of year. Some shrubs can only be eaten by deer when they have new young shoots growing in the springtime.
  • Shrub toxicity to deer, it can be poisonous to them, some at some point during the shrub growth stage, and some of the most deer resistant shrubs are poisonous at all growth stages.
Using Deer Repelling Shrubs

Deer repelling shrubs can be planted amongst your other plants, or around the perimeter of your landscape, we have tried both methods on our landscaping projects, either way works just as well. Just remember that if you have a lawn in front of your house with flower beds, with no fence, then you will have to mix the deer repelling shrubs with your other plants for any effect. The deer repelling shrubs must number 40% or more of your plants to have any significant effect.

When planning to buy ornamental shrubs, it is important to look at their resistance to deer in order to avoid browsing damage. We have put together the following list of deer resistant shrubs, and deer repelling shrubs that we use in our landscapes. Click here for a list of deer resistant trees.

List of deer resistant shrubs, sorted by scientific name

Scientific Name Common Name
Amelanchier canadensis Serviceberry - Shadblow
Amorpha canescens Lead Plant
Aronia arbutifolia Red Chokeberry
Artemisia Wormwood
Artemisia dracunculus Tarragon
Artemisia schmidtiana Silver Mound
Artemisia tridentata Big Sagebrush
Baptisia australis False Indigo
Baptisia tinctoria Wild Indigo
Berberis Barberry
Berberis koreana Korean Barberry
Berberis thunbergii Japanese Barberry
Berberis trifoliolata Agarita
Betula nigra River Birch
Buddleia davidii Butterfly Bush
Buxus Boxwood
Buxus microphylla Littleleaf Boxwood
Buxus sempervirens Common Boxwood
Cactaceae Cactus
Callicarpa americana Beautyberry
Calluna vulgaris Heather
Calycanthus floridus Common Sweetshrub
Calycanthus occidentalis California Sweetshrub
Caragana arborescens Siberian Peashrub
Caragana aurantiaca Pygmy Caragana
Caragana frutex Russian Caragana
Caragana maximowicziana Caragana Maximowicz
Caragana pekinensis Pekinese Caragana
Caragana rosea Pink Peashrub
Caryopteris clandonensis Blue Mist Shrub
Ceanothus velutinus Snowbush Ceanothus
Cephalanthus occidentalis Buttonbush
Chaenomeles japonica Japanese Flowering Quince
Choisya ternata Mexican Orange
Clethra alnifolia Sweet Pepperbush
Coprosma repens Mirror Shrub
Cornus alba Red Twigged Dogwood
Cornus drummondii Roughleaf Dogwood
Cornus sericea Red Osier Dogwood
Cornus stolonifera Osier Dogwood
Cotinus coggygria Smokebush
Cotoneaster Cotoneaster
Cotoneaster apiculatus Cranberry Cotoneaster
Cotoneaster congestus Pyrenees Cotoneaster
Cotoneaster dammeri Bearberry Cotoneaster
Cotoneaster horizontalis Rockspray Cotoneaster
Cotoneaster salicifolius Willowleaf Cotoneaster
Cytisus Broom
Cytisus scoparius Scotch Broom
Dictamus alba Gas Plant
Elaeagnus angustifolia Russian Olive
Elaeagnus commutata Silverberry
Elaeagnus pungens Silverthorn
Elaeagnus umbellatus Autumn Olive
Ficus Fig
Forsythia Forsythia
Forsythia × intermedia Showy Forsythia
Halimodendron halodendron Siberian Salt Tree
Hamamelis virginiana Common Witchhazel
Helleborus Hellebore
Helleborus niger Christmas Rose
Helleborus orientalis Lenten Rose
Hibiscus syriacus Rose of Sharon
Hippophae rhamnoides Sea Buckthorn
Hydrangea quercifolia Hydrangea - Oakleaf
Hypericum prolificum St. John's Wort
Ilex aquifolium English Holly
Ilex cornuta Chinese Holly
Ilex crenata Japanese Holly
Ilex glabra Inkberry Holly
Ilex verticillata Winterberry Holly
Ilex vomitoria Dwarf Yaupon
Ilex × "John T. Morris" John T. Morris Holly
Ilex × "Lydia Morris" Lydia Morris Holly
Juniperus Juniper
Juniperus chinensis Chinese Juniper
Juniperus communis Common Juniper
Juniperus horizontalis Creeping Juniper
Juniperus sabina Savin Juniper
Juniperus scopulorum Rocky Mountain Juniper
Juniperus squamata Singleseed Juniper
Kalmia latifolia Mountain Laurel
Kerria japonica Japanese Kerria
Kolkwitzia amabilis Beautybush
Lavandula Lavender
Leucophyllum Barometer Bush
Ligustrum Privet
Ligustrum vulgare European Privet
Lindera benzoin Spicebush
Lonicera Honeysuckle
Lonicera sempervirens Trumpet Honeysuckle
Mahonia aquifolium Oregon Grape Holly
Mahonia bealei Leatherleaf Mahonia
Melianthus major Honey Bush
Michelia fuscata Banana Shrub
Myrica cerifera Wax Myrtle
Myrica pennsylvanica Northern Bayberry
Nandina Nandina
Nandina domestica Heavenly Bamboo
Perovskia atriplicifolia Russian Sage
Philadelphus Mock Orange
Philadelphus coronarius Sweet Mock Orange
Pinus mugo Mugo Pine
Potentilla Cinquefoil
Potentilla fruticosa Shrubby Cinquefoil
Prunus americana American Plum
Prunus caroliniana Carolina Cherry Laurel
Prunus fruticosa Groundcherry
Prunus laurocerasus Cherry Laurel
Prunus tenella Dwarf Russian Almond
Pyracantha coccinea Scarlet Firethorn
Pyracantha 'M. Roemer' Firethorn
Rhamnus Buckthorn
Rhamnus cathartica Common Buckthorn
Rhododendron 'Olga Mezitt' Olga Rhododendron
Rhododendron 'PJM' PJM Rhododendron
Rhododendron roseum Rhododendron
Rhus aromatica Fragrant Sumac
Rhus lanceolata Flameleaf Sumac
Rhus ovata Sugar Bush
Rhus trilobata Skunkbush Sumac
Rhus virens Evergreen Sumac
Rosa 'Betty Bland' Betty Bland Rose
Rosa 'Haidee' Haidee Rose
Rosa laevigata Cherokee Rose
Rosa rugosa Rugosa Rose
Rosa virginiana Virginia Rose
Rosa wichuraiana Memorial Rose
Rosmarinus officinalis Rosemary
Rubus Thorny Blackberry
Salvia Sage
Salvia farinacea Mealy Blue Sage
Salvia greggii Autumn Sage
Salvia leucantha Mexican Bush Sage
Salvia nemorosa Meadow Sage
Salvia officinalis Garden Sage
Salvia roemeriana Cedar Sage
Sambucus canadensis American Elder
Sambucus racemosa Red Elderberry
Sheperdia argentea Buffaloberry
Spiraea Spirea
Spiraea japonica Japanese Spirea
Spiraea prunifolia Bridalwreath Spirea
Spiraea bumalda Anthony Waterer Spirea
Symphoricarpos albus Snowberry
Symphoricarpos chenaultii Coralberry
Symplocarpos foetidus Skunk Cabbage
Syringa reticulata Japanese Tree Lilac
Syringa villosa Late Lilac
Syringa vulgaris Common Lilac
Tecomaria capensis Cape Honeysuckle
Thymus Thyme
Viburnum Viburnum
Viburnum carlesii Koreanspice Viburnum
Viburnum dentatum Arrowwood Viburnum
Viburnum opulus Highbush Cranberry
Viburnum plicatum tomentosurn Doublefile Viburnum
Viburnum prunifolium Blackhaw Viburnum
Viburnum rhytidophyllum Leatherleaf Viburnum
Viburnum × juddii Judd Viburnum
Weigela florida Weigela
Yucca Yucca
Yucca filamentosa Adam's Needle

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