5 Things in Your Yard That Are Attracting Deer
Your backyard might inadvertently be acting as a cafeteria for wildlife.
Seeing deer used to be reserved for hikes through the woods or driving along rural roads. But today, it's not uncommon to spot these animals strolling down residential streets or even making their way into our own backyards. The Cornell Deer Project explains that this shift is a result of the U.S. eliminating many of deers' predators, such as wolves and mountain lions, as well as increased construction in their natural habitats.
And though deer are generally not aggressive—they will attack humans if they feel threatened—they can be destructive to homes and gardens and can also pose a risk to children, pets, and drivers. Want to ensure your property remains deer-free? Keep reading to hear from experts about the main things in your yard that attract deer to your home.
Tall trees and shrubs
As mentioned, deforestation has forced the deer population into residential areas. However, the animals are still naturally inclined to seek the type of shelter they're used to.
"Although they live outdoors, wildlife still need safe and covered areas to rest and remain safe from predators," says Charles van Rees, PhD, conservation scientist and naturalist at the University of Georgia.
He explains that deer will seek shelter when sleeping at night or taking naps during the day.
"In both cases, they are typically looking to be sheltered from the sun and the wind," he notes. "This often means areas under trees or in tall grass, where they can be hidden from predators as well as sheltered from the sun or rain. Tall trees with spreading, low-hanging branches, tall grass, or thick and brambly patches are all likely hiding or sheltering spots for deer."
Of course, you probably don't want to cut down any big, beautiful trees in your yard, which is why Bryan Clayton, CEO of GreenPal, recommends a fence of at least eight feet.
"Deer are excellent jumpers, so height is crucial," he points out.
Smaller greenery can also entice deer, as they're drawn to eating certain plants and flowers. Van Rees says hostas, roses, some types of lilies, and the leaves of some trees and bushes will attract deer to your yard.
"A well-manicured lawn might even be nice for grazing if there aren't other options," he adds.
Clayton suggests incorporating deer-repellent plants like lavender, sage, and rosemary into your landscaping to make your yard less appealing.
Fruits and vegetables
If you have fruit trees or a vegetable garden, you also have a delicious meal for deer. Clayton says they're particularly fond of berries and apples.
One solution for this issue is to plant colorful cosmos flowers, another deer-repellent plant, around your fruit or vegetable beds. Cosmos contain cosmosin, a sap that tastes very unappealing to deer—but the flowers will look lovely in your yard.
RELATED: 9 Cleaning Habits That Attract Spiders.
Deer are also partial to seeds, which makes your bird feeder a prime attractant. Clayton explains that when birds visit these feeders, they usually spill seeds on the ground, which then draws in deer.
He says you can secure any bird feeders to minimize spillage, or take them inside once the birds are done eating.
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We've established what deer like to eat, but, like any animal, they also need water.
"In some landscapes, and at certain times of year, naturally occurring water can be hard to find," explains van Rees. "Water sources in backyards will draw wildlife who need a drink."
"If there's a pond, birdbath, or even a dripping hose, deer might find that appealing, especially during dry seasons," points out Clayton. If your yard, driveway, or patio isn't level, puddles can be another culprit.
Another way to keep deer off your property is to use motion-activated devices, according to Tommy Wylde, publisher of Floofmania, a blog about North American wildlife.
"Motion-activated sprinklers or lights can startle and deter deer from entering your yard," he shares. However, he also says that he's found many deer get used to these—and you'll have to make sure sprinklers aren't creating standing water.