Got Deer? Make Your Garden Deer Resistant

Got deer? Make Your Garden Deer Resistant With Strong-Smelling Plants

We get asked about deer-resistant gardening all the time. Deer are everywhere, and they’ll eat anything—including your prized azaleas and hosta! They eat tree leaves, too, up to almost six feet off the ground. Male deer damage trees by rubbing them with their antlers. Spring is prime time for deer to “browse” the landscape in search of food. Does and their fawns need extra nutrition, which they just might find in your yard!

Unless you use a tall, strong fence, you can’t 100% deer-proof your garden. And in times of drought or over-population, deer will eat anything they can find. But don’t give up! Some well-placed aromatic plants can make your garden or landscaped areas more deer-resistant.

Deer use their sense of smell to find food, and they prefer certain plants. A garden with lots of strong-smelling plants will confuse the deer because they can’t pick out their favorites. They like to feed where the smells are simpler and their favorite foods easier to find.

Here are some beautiful plants that are perfect in a deer-resistant garden:

Vitex agnus-castus
Vitus agnus-castus is a small, deer-resistant tree. Here, it’s under-planted with Lantana, which is too smelly for deer.

Muhlenbergia capillaris
This deer-resistant pink muhli grass (muhlenbergia capillaries) protects the tasty rosebush behind it. Oddly enough, roses are one very fragrant flower that deer actually love to eat.

Echinecia purpurea

Deer avoid plants with thorns, milky sap, and fuzzy leaves. Purple coneflower is a great example: deer don’t like its fuzzy, prickly center.

Suzanne’s favorite deer-resistant plants are good, old-fashioned garden herbs. Almost all woody herbs are too smelly for deer. Thyme, lavender, rosemary, oregano, and marjoram are great choices. Plus, they look beautiful and can be used for cooking.


This publication from the University of Georgia Agricultural Extension office has great information on which plants deer love to eat and which ones they don’t.

Finding the right combination of plants can be tough. You want to showcase your favorites but protect them from hungry deer. Plus, you have to factor in the sunlight, water, soil, and drainage needs of the various plants. For Georgia homeowners who need help creating a beautiful, deer-resistant garden that’s just right for you, call the pros at Art of Stone Gardening.

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