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Deer-resistant gardening made easy

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Courtesy of Timber Press

(Read caption) Allium bulbs, which are tall and dramatic, don't appeal to deer but are easy for gardeners to grow.

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While gardening with deer can be a challenge, Ruth Rogers Clausen has some tips to make it easier.

Ms. Clausen is the author of the new book "50 Beautiful Deer-Resistant Plants" (Timber Press, $19.95), an enthusiastic guide to the best-performing deer-resistant plants for the garden.

Learn to recognize deer damage

According to the book, one of the first steps in preventing deer damage [pdf] is recognizing it. Because deer have no upper incisor teeth, they tear their food, resulting in ragged, torn leaves. This is the most obvious indicator that you’re dealing with deer eating your plants, rather than rabbits or woodchucks.

Another clear indicator of deer browsing is that the damage will usually occur from ground level to five feet up. If you can see from this evidence that deer are harming your large shrubs and trees, one way of avoiding damage is to purchase plants with a canopy above five feet in height, to allow your large shrub or tree to grow and photosynthesize without being eaten.

The last obvious signal to look for is deer droppings. Deer scat is usually a pile of small round droppings. If you see this, it’s clear what pest your plants are suffering from.

Repel deer and protect new plants from them

Clausen discusses a number of protective treatments to deter deer from munching on your plants.

Protective measures to existing plants tend to fall under two main categories; either putting up a physical barrier against deer -- such as a fence -- or using repellents to scare them away or make plants unpalatable.

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