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Deer-Proofing Your Garden in Iowa

“Eating greens is a special treat, it makes long ears and great big feet.”
– Bambi

Few things in nature are as elegant and interesting as deer, and spotting one can often be quite exciting – except, however, when you spot them grazing on your gorgeous garden. As beautiful as they are, deer can be an incredible nuisance in our yards, as they trample through and chew our precious plants to pieces.

Why Deer Love Our Gardens:

Deer are natural grazers and love eating plants for their thirst-quenching moisture content and nutritional benefits. They particularly love to munch away in the spring with new growth looking tastiest after the long winter.
Particular plants that deer love to snack on include tulips, pansies, dogwood, and roses. They also enjoy english ivy, yew, pine, and hostas, as well as most fruits and vegetables. When many of these tasty treats are packaged nicely together in one area, like in our gardens, it only makes sense that they would keep coming back day after day.

deer watching

Deer-Proofing Your Yard:

To continue enjoying your garden beauties without worrying about deer damage, you’ll need to protect your yard against these plant predators.

Fences and Hedges:

When it comes to keeping animals out of our yards, it can be easy to convince ourselves that a fence will solve all our issues but deer are known for their expert jumping skills. While it’s true that they have been known to jump as high as 7 feet in a single bound, we’ve found from experience that deer are more likely to choose the path of least resistance, so a 6-foot fence will usually be enough.
A less obstructive solution could be to, instead, add a hedge around your yard, as a natural barrier. Boxwood is an excellent choice for a deer-repelling hedge, as it’s not only beautifully bright, but also deer-resistant, as well.

Repellants:

Much like the sprays you can buy to ward off insects, there are repellents that can be purchased to ward off deer, as well.
Scent-targeting repellents use powerful smells to confuse the deer’s sense of smell from detecting the treats they love. Typically they tend to contain quite potent smells, like fermented eggs, garlic, and soap. They may also contain natural scents from their predators.

a tall green headge with garden table and chair

Taste-targeting repellents work to change the flavor of the plants, so they aren’t as appetizing to the deer. They are usually based with spicy peppers or other unsavory flavors, so they are best used on plants you won’t be enjoying on your plate.

These sprays will usually need to be applied 1-2 times per month, depending on rainfall and are best applied early in the season before the deer have had a chance to sample your garden. We also typically recommend rotating repellents occasionally for most effective results.

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Deer-Proof Plants:

While no plants are truly deer-proof, there are plenty of plants that deer tend to avoid due to smell, taste, or even toxicity. With even a couple of these deer resistant plants in your landscape, your yard quickly becomes less appealing to these curious critters.

Deer-Proof Perennials:

  • Black-Eyed Susans – classic daisy flowers with dark eyes.
  • Bleeding Hearts – traditional, heart-shaped flowers.
  • Coreopsis – colorful, daisy-like flowers.
  • Daffodils – terrific trumpet flowers, toxic to deer.
  • Coneflowers – cone-shaped native flowers with prominent eyes.
  • Ferns – a varied family of foliage plants.
  • Irises – beautiful bearded flowers.
  • Lavender – very fragrant flower spikes with namesake color.
  • Mint – excellent edible with strong fragrance to ward off deer.
  • Monarda – pincushion flowers adored by pollinators.
  • Ornamental Grasses – beautiful, but not as appetizing as a lawn.
  • Sage – spikes of fragrant flowers.

Pictured below: Left- Monarda, Top Right- Coreopsis, Bottom Right- Bleeding Hearts

Bright orange crown imperial flowers

Deer-Proof Annuals:

  • Cleomes – spidery flower spikes.
  • Marigolds – pincushion flowers on tall stems.
  • Petunias – pretty trumpet flowers in many colors.
  • Rosemary – delicious, fragrant herb.

While we may enjoy spotting them grazing in a field out in nature, our gardens are the last place we want to find deer. With these tips and tricks for deer-proofing your yard, though, you won’t have to worry about losing another plant to these majestic mammals.

To view our selection of deer-repelling plants and products, or for more information, visit us in store today or check out our informational sheet on deer-proofing here.

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Native Plants (Iowa)

“You’ve got to stay strong to be strong in tough times.”
– Tilman Fertitta

These days we seem to get busier and busier every year. The hurry of our families and lives is sometimes overwhelming. We do our best to keep up, but when we finally get a moment to ourselves, the last thing we want is a reminder to do more work. Without the time and energy, maintaining a gorgeous garden seems impossible. This couldn’t be further from the truth, though! With a wide variety of native plants to choose from, it’s downright easy to create an impressive garden you’ll be eager to show off that doesn’t demand constant toiling. You’ll be able to have your dream garden and the time to actually sit back and enjoy it.

Pictured below: Yarrow

Beautiful Paver Patio Outdoor Living

Benefits of Native Gardening:

Native gardening has gained popularity for its low-maintenance beauty thanks to the natural hardiness of its plants. But many gardeners also know that they don’t need to plant only local plants to have a hardy garden. There is a wide variety of hybrids on the market these days, offering non-native plants that are tougher than their exotic cousins. While they are hardy enough to make the cut in foreign territory, these plants are still being taken out of their natural comfort zone: hybrid varieties of classics still take some degree of maintenance and sometimes provide mixed results. Native plants, however, have been thriving in your local climate for thousands of years, which is a type of hardiness that any hybrid will struggle to compete with.

Native plants are the ultimate low-maintenance option that is a perfect fit for the time-sensitive gardener. They have very few gardening needs and are perfectly happy in full sun with little to no additional water. Not only are they drought- and heat-tolerant, but they’ll even thrive on a little bit of neglect. A garden with native plants offers a stunning variety of natural colors that essentially take care of themselves, year after year. These pretty locals will be a favorite of guests to your garden – from visiting pollinators and birds to your friends and family.

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Native Gardening in Iowa

In Iowa, we are no strangers to prairie plant life. Our native flowers are accustomed to plenty of sun in the summer but are hardy enough to survive our chilly winters. Some of our favorite, low-maintenance Iowa prairie flowers are tough growers with a pretty exterior:

Butterfly Milkweed

Don’t let the name fool you, because Milkweed (also known as Butterfly Weed) is a charming flower that adds to its beauty by attracting scores of butterflies. It’s mainly known as the flower of Monarch butterflies, but their nectar is also a favorite of ladybeetles and bees. The pretty clusters of flowers will help to draw scores of beneficial insects to your garden, but will also repel destructive pests like deer and rabbits. This flower works hard for you and is frequently available in delicate shades of orange or pink to dress up your low-maintenance garden.

 Coneflowers

These flowers feature a seed head with long, falling petals that cascade in a cone shape. Also known as Echinacea, these flowers offer many color options beyond their classic purple hues. The unique shape of these flowers is eye-catching to the passerby as well as to helpful insects and local birds.

 Yarrow

Also known as Achillea, Yarrow is another example of an unapologetically vibrant native plant. While the colorful clusters of flowers make this perennial incredibly popular, the leaves add functionality as a long-loved herb. Many gardeners swear on Yarrow leaves’ pain-relieving ability and have used them for a variety of common ailments from toothaches to bellyaches. A bit of Yarrow in the garden adds a splash of color, all while requiring minimal care. In fact, a little neglect actually helps this plant to thrive.

Pictured below: Coneflowers

Beautiful Paver Patio Outdoor Living

Ironweed

This native is as tough as the name suggests. Ironweed is a perfect plant for the middle or back of the garden, maturing at a height of about a foot and a half tall. The blooms are what makes this plant so spectacular. Vibrant, dark purple flowers cover the tips of the plant mid-summer, making it a real showstopper. Certainly one of our favorite natives, you will love this plant and so will the pollinators!

Rough Blazing Star

Also known as Liatris, the Rough Blazing Star is also unofficially known as the “butterfly magnet” because butterflies cannot resist the blooms of this lovely plant. It is extremely drought tolerant and stands at about three feet tall with clusters of large purple blooms. Rough Blazing Star is much bigger than common Liatris and also blooms much later. Try this plant in your garden, and you will be impressed with its hardiness and beautiful blooms.

Showy Goldenrod

This plant is a much tamer, non-invasive version of ordinary Ditch Goldenrod. The blooms are large with a bright, sunny yellow color, born on very sturdy stems that grow up to three feet tall. It has large flowers bloom later in summer and fall, adding that perfect pop of color to any Iowa garden. Bees and other pollinators are also very attracted to this plant.

Pictured below: Butterfly Milkweed

Beautiful Paver Patio Outdoor Living

Using native plants in your garden makes growing a healthy and hardy garden a much more realistic option for busy gardeners. With a garden that practically takes care of itself, while still offering up an array of charming blooms, you’ll actually have the opportunity to sit and enjoy your garden. And we offer lots of varieties to choose from and the advice you to help you get started.