Oh, Deer! How to Protect Your Winter Landscapes from Wildlife

Learn some helpful hints on how to keep those pesky deer and rabbits away from your precious winter landscapes.

 

Winter is coming…you’ve cut everything in your garden back that needs it. DONE. Sorry folks, but there are still some tricks you have to pull from your sleeve if you want your garden to look gorgeous next spring and summer! Winter wildlife are a real threat to the health and appearance of your plants— especially new plantings. They must be protected in the most efficient and sneakiest of ways, or those hungry deer and rabbits might view your landscape as a belly full of winter storage.  

 

First Thing’s First—Identify the Deer’s Go-To Snacks!

It’s crucial to identify the most vulnerable plantings in your garden and tend to them first.  If you’re not sure how to winterize specific items, we can help with that. Deer especially love the bark on the young trees that you worked so hard to establish in the growing season— take no chances! Burlap is a wonderful thing. You can stake around the specific items that need extra protection and line them with burlap (like a Japanese maple), or you can wrap them in burlap directly. If you choose to line around them with stakes, it is always a good idea to put something such as leaves inside the enclosure as well to protect the exposed areas (especially for roses). Deer and rabbits will eat nearly anything in your landscape that has a soft and approachable texture. Watch out for this, as there can be bushes and some (broadleaf) evergreens that do not drop all of their leaves in winter. 

 

Wallaces Garden Center-deer-fencing

Beyond Burlap—What’s Next?

If you are an extra cautious person, fence the wildlife out! This will undoubtedly protect the landscape you worked so hard on from animals looking for snacks. Fences will vary in height depending on which type of wildlife you are trying to keep away from your landscape, and they must be as secure as possible in the ground. Fences need not be fancy! Some posts/tree stakes and some rope or even chicken wire will work! This may not be the most aesthetic option, but with brand new gardens or newly-planted pieces in your existing garden, we must pick our battles. 

What About Mulch?

“I think I’ll just mulch over everything”. Well, you can, but be careful with this. If the mulch is too deep, you may attract voles and mice within big piles of mulch that will snack on the bark underneath. Essentially, you have created a lovely warm environment for your new trees and shrubs—and created a cozy winter home for underground wildlife. If you are going to cover your landscape with mulch, make sure it is only a couple of inches deep, so the little critters don’t have much room to hide and snack on your hard work. 

 

Wallaces Garden Center-shiny-things-trees

Repellents and Scare Tactics

Deer repellents can be used, but they may need to be reapplied and they should be water-resistant. Check all the labels to be sure they are effective against the wildlife you are trying to deter, and always look for organic. Another strategy that can be used to protect your landscape is scare tactics, such as shiny items hung from branches. Shiny ribbons can be useful for this, but you will have to keep an eye on their placement to maximize their efficacy. Moving them around can also ensure success, as the animals could get used to their location and simply avoid them when possible. 

Deer-Resistant Landscape Ideas for Future

Perhaps you are wondering what kind of trees, shrubs or perennials you can plant next spring that will help to create a deer and rabbit resistant landscape. One that we love in particular is the juniper, for its strong resistance to deer, and it is also resistant to rabbit browsing. Some more deer and rabbit resistant ideas are: 

  • Boxwood
  • Barberry
  • Yucca
  • Viburnum
  • Spirea 
  • Columbine
  • Coreopsis
  • Rudbeckia 
  • Ajuga (groundcover)
  • Vinca major (groundcover)

 

Wallaces Garden Center-deer-in-garden-chewing

Are you saying, “Wow. I thought I was organized and ready for winter, but this seems like a lot of work”. Not to worry! If even one of these strategies are implemented, your winter landscape has a much better chance of heading into spring unscathed! Come see us at Wallace’s in Bettendorf to create a deer-resistant landscape today!

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