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Mr. Smarty Plants - Deer-resistant groundcover for sunny hillside in California

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Tuesday - November 17, 2009

From: Hillsborough, CA
Region: California
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Deer-resistant groundcover for sunny hillside in California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

we are looking for a deer resistant, drought resistant ground cover that we can grow from seed. we have a large,partial sunny hillside, well drained,that is cover with oak leaves and pine needles..and weeds. any suggestions? Thank you.

ANSWER:

Grasses and sedges are one possibility.  Deer generally avoid eating grasses.  Here are a few native to your area and generally available as seeds:

Danthonia californica (California oatgrass) and you can see a photo here

Koeleria macrantha (prairie Junegrass)

Calamagrostis foliosa (leafy reed grass) 

Deschampsia cespitosa (tufted hairgrass)

Deschampsia elongata (slender hairgrass)  

Carex praegracilis (clustered field sedge) and here is more information and photos

Carex pansa (sanddune sedge) and here is an indepth article with photos by David Amme from Bay Natives. 

You can see more possibilities for grasses available in your area at Yerba Buena Nursery in Woodside, California and Bay Natives in San Francisco, one of our Associate SuppliersLarner Seeds in Bolinas, California, another of our Suppliers, lists most of the grasses recommended above and other California grass seeds for sale.

Las Pilitas Nursery in Santa Margarita and Escondido, California, another of our Suppliers, has an excellent article, California Gardens with Deer Problems, that has further recommendations for deer-resistant native plants.  Here are a few from that article that would be good groundcovers:

Clinopodium douglasii [syn. = Satureja douglasii] (yerba buena) and here are photos and more information

Monardella antonina (San Antonio Hills monardella)—deer avoid most members of the mint family (Family Lamiaceae) because of their strong flavor.

Ferns are also plants that deer avoid.  Since they aren't flowering plants they can't be planted from seed.

Polystichum munitum (western swordfern)

Dryopteris arguta (coastal woodfern)

Adiantum jordanii (California maidenhair) and more information and photos

These ferns as well as some of the other recommendations are available as plants in your area at Bay Natives in San Franciso and Yerba Buena Nursery in Woodside.   You can search for other suppliers in your area that might have seeds or plants of the above recommended species in our National Suppliers Directory.

 

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