Deer-Resistant Groundcovers: A Guide to Plants that Deer Avoid

Introduction: The Challenge of Deer in the Garden

For many gardeners, deer can be both a majestic sight and a nuisance. While their appearance in the garden may be charming, deer are known to munch on various plants, causing significant damage. This can be particularly challenging for those who have invested time and effort into nurturing a beautiful landscape. In areas where deer are prevalent, selecting plants that they typically avoid becomes essential. One way to do this is by choosing deer-resistant groundcovers. These plants can fill in garden spaces, add beauty, and deter deer all at the same time.

Understanding What Deer Prefer

To begin selecting the right groundcover, it is important to first understand what deer prefer to eat. By doing so, we can make informed decisions about what to plant in our gardens to minimize the appeal to these large herbivores.

Taste Preferences

Deer are often drawn to plants that are sweet, succulent, and tender. They are particularly attracted to newly planted vegetation, and certain plants that we find aromatic may be appealing to them as well.

Texture Preferences

Plants that are coarse, fuzzy, or have prickles tend to be less appealing to deer. They usually avoid plants with these characteristics, as they are less palatable or even uncomfortable to eat.

By considering these preferences, we can look for groundcover options that are less likely to attract deer.

Groundcover Plants Deer Usually Avoid

When it comes to selecting groundcovers that deer are less likely to eat, several attributes make certain plants more desirable choices. Here, we’ll delve into some popular groundcovers known for being deer-resistant and the qualities that contribute to this resistance.


Thyme is an aromatic herb that is often used as a groundcover. Its strong scent, which humans find pleasant, can be a deterrent to deer. Thyme grows low to the ground, spreads well, and comes in various species that provide different leaf colors and flowers.


Juniper groundcovers, such as Blue Rug Juniper, are known for their dense, prickly foliage. This texture is unappealing to deer, and the plant itself is hardy and drought-tolerant, making it a good option for many gardens.


Bearberry is another groundcover that deer tend to leave alone. Its leathery leaves and trailing growth habit make it an attractive choice for gardeners but not so much for deer. Additionally, its red berries add a splash of color to the garden.


Periwinkle or Vinca minor is a popular groundcover that tends to be ignored by deer. Its glossy leaves and beautiful blue-violet flowers add beauty to any garden, but its texture doesn’t align with the deer’s preferred tastes.

Sweet Woodruff

Sweet Woodruff has a sweet, hay-like scent that’s often used in potpourris but doesn’t seem to attract deer. Its delicate white flowers and bright green leaves can brighten shady spots where other groundcovers may not thrive.

Tips for Creating a Deer-Resistant Landscape with Groundcovers

Planting deer-resistant groundcovers is just one part of creating a landscape that’s less attractive to deer. Here are some additional strategies to consider:

Mix and Match

By planting a mix of deer-resistant groundcovers, shrubs, and other plants, you can create a layered effect that not only adds visual interest but also minimizes the appeal to deer.

Consider Your Local Deer Population

Deer preferences can vary by region and even individual deer. Consulting with local garden centers, horticulturists, or neighbors who have experience with deer in your area can provide insights into what works best locally.

Incorporate Other Deterrents

Using fencing, netting, or deer repellents alongside deer-resistant plants can enhance your efforts to keep deer at bay.

Monitor and Adjust

Observing the behavior of deer in your garden and adjusting your plant selections and strategies as needed will help you find the most effective solutions for your particular situation.

In summary, dealing with deer in the garden requires a multifaceted approach. By understanding deer preferences, selecting appropriate deer-resistant groundcovers, and employing additional strategies, you can create a garden that satisfies your aesthetic desires while minimizing the risk of deer damage. Whether you’re starting a new garden or looking to adapt an existing one, considering these factors will help you create a landscape that thrives in harmony with the local wildlife.