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Past Articles Library | Deer Proof your Landscape Design with the Right Shrubs

As anyone knows, creating a landscape design is time consuming and expensive whether you do it yourself or you hire someone. While gardening mistakes will be made from care to pest control, why start the landscape off by planting shrubs that deer find tasty. Below is a list on three shrubs that look wonderful in a landscape design and are not on the menu for the deer.

Deer Proof Shrubs to Plant

Juniper (Juniperus spp.)

Living in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones three through seven, you have a wonderful and flexible choice in the juniper. They come in many growth habits such as those that can be used as ground covers, accent plants, and even pruned to create a hedge, which can create another barrier to deer.

This shrub thrives in full sun but does not tolerate soggy soils. To aid soils that may feel a bit wet, consider digging the hole deeper than the container that the juniper was planted in. Add some sand or grit to the removed soil. Place this amended soil back into the hole until the proper soil level has been reached. To the remaining soil, mix in a good amount of well-seasoned compost or manure and/or leaf mold.

Continue to monitor soil moisture and water when needed until the newly planted juniper is around two years old. At this point, they are established.

As noted above when talking about the different uses for this shrub, junipers can be pruned into a hedge. While deer do not like the taste of this plant, surrounding another plant that they do like with a juniper hedge is a different approach that you may want to consider.

Japanese Spirea (Spiraea japonica)

While there are many different types of junipers, there are also several varieties of Japanese spireas. They range in size from two to over six feet height. Most have blue-green foliage that is dropped in the fall but ‘Goldflame’ has golden foliage, which turns red in the fall. Beyond the foliage color, the branches of this shrub covered with clusters of red, white, and pink blooms that appear in late spring to early summer.

When it comes to growing requirements of this shrub look for a sunny area in your garden space that has a soil that is well-draining but moist in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones three through eight. Beyond these requirements, the Japanese spirea looks its best when planted in clumps verses as specimen plants.

English Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens)

The English boxwood is another flexible plant that comes in several different shapes and sizes. Due to the fact that it does not mind pruning, this shrub is commonly used for hedges, borders, and topiaries. While the English boxwood can be used just like the juniper there is one issue that will stop this shrub in its tracks. What is this? Well, it is the depth of the hole. Many English boxwoods have had the ideal environment and died because they were planted too deep. The reason for this is the fact that this shrub has shallow roots. In doing so check and double check the depth of the hole that you have dug so that your shrub is not planted too deep, and mulch around the shrub with an organic mulch every year to conserve soil moisture. Do not put mulch all the way up to the trunk. Doing this will encourage pests instead keep an even three inch mulch all around the shrub beginning two inches from the trunk. Continue this mulching past the drip line of the shrub to not only conserve soil moisture but also provide an extended layer of weed control.                   

Deer Proof Shrubs not to Plant

As beautiful as these shrubs are they do represent delightful dishes that deer just cannot resist. This includes hybrid tea rose (Rosa x hybrid), yews (Taxus spp.), English azaleas and rhododendrons (Rhododendron spp.) along with American arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis).

If you insist on planting these shrubs in your landscape, also utilize aromatic herbs such as rosemary. The strong-scented herbs will keep deer at bay.

How to Properly Plant a Shrub

All the deer proof shrubs listed can be grown in the ground but also in a container. To aid in your gardening success, let’s take a look at how to proper plant a shrub in the ground along with in a container.

Planting a shrub in your landscape design may sound like an easy task. I mean you just dig a hole, remove the shrub from its container, and place in the hole. At this point, fill in the hole and you are done, right? Well, not so. To be successful, you must first select the correct environment for the variety of shrub you desire to plant. Next, dig the hole so that it is no deeper than the container the shrub is planted in, unless noted. The hole will also need to be twice the width of the pot the shrub is in.

At this point, save yourself some time and money by testing the hole size while the shrub is still in its pot. If the hole size is right then you can move on to removing the shrub. On the other hand, if the hole is not the correct size remedy the situation however it needs to be done.

If you are ready to plant your shrub begin the process by cutting away the container. There are many techniques by which you can use to remove a plant from its pot but the key is to remove the plant in a way that will not damage the roots. In this case, it will require you to cut away the container. Once that is done, just wiggle your fingers through the soil to loosen up the roots or “teasing.” At this point, you are ready to place your shrub in the hole, fill in with soil, and water in to settle the soil.

Another choice is to plant your shrub in a container but……..this can cause a problem, especially if you live in an area that actually gets cold and snow. While you can move your large container indoors, this option is a bit impractical for most people. Yes, I know you are thinking, well my shrub is in my plant hardiness zone so what is the problem. Well, the problem is the soil freezing in the pot, which will kill your shrub. If you decide that this is something you need to do, begin the process by choosing the correct sized container. You do not want one that is too big or too small. Once the pot has been selected, clean and sterilize the inside of it and allow to dry out in the sunlight. This may seem a little odd but the solar radiation will finish killing any pest or diseases.

Now, as with any container, you should have a drainage hole, which should be covered with drainage material. Next, add an all purpose planting medium or soilless mix to the container and plant as above.


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Bramble Fruit

Bramble fruits will tolerate some shade, but the more sun they have the more fruit they'll produce, especially in cooler climates.

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