Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
3 ratings

Friday - May 06, 2011

From: Parsippany, NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Deer resistant plants for a bioswale in NJ
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

We live in Morris County, New Jersey, on the edge of a nature preserve, i.e., deer are a bane to everything we plant. We recently had to have a swale dug on the west end of our house to deal alleviate water issues with our basement. The swale works great, but because our soil has such a high clay content the drainage rate is extremely poor and we have substantial pooling than can take at least a day or two to drain after a good rain (and can remain boggy for another day or two afterward). Are there any highly deer resistant, thirsty shrubs that we could plant either on the bank of the swale or in it to help abate the water issue? The area is pretty much in the sun all day. Thanks for your help.

ANSWER:

Well ... you have two fairly significant challenges here.

I think you probably already know that there is no such thing as a highly deer resistant shrub.  When they are hungry enough they will eat whatever is there, whether it is fuzzy, thorny or even poisonous.  Once that is all gone, they ring your doorbell and ask for lettuce!  I shouldn't joke about them ... they are a huge problem all over North America ... this Green Guru has battled them in gardens in NJ, Pennsylvania, Texas and Ontario.  The damage they do to the cultivated landscape is enormous, but the damage they are doing to the understory and forest floor of the woodland ecosystem in the northeast now will affect the future of that ecosystem in ways that it is hard to imagine at this point.

You may find these links helpful.  One is an article by Horticulture magazine and the other a list for your area put together by Rutgers.

Your second challenge is the swale.  As you say, you are looking for plants that are adapted to the dry conditions that persist most of the time but can handle periods of extreme wetness.  It so happens that planting a bioswale or rain garden is a very effective way to slow down stormwater run-off so that the water will infiltrate the soil instead of washing soil and pollutants into sewers and ultimately streams and lakes. 

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden has published a very informative article about rain gardens and how to construct them as well as a plant list you will find helpful. Hopefully, you will find some plants on both lists!

You can find more information about rain gardens and sustainable gardening at the Landscape for Life website.

Good luck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Deer Resistant Questions

Control for slugs and snails in Arisaema triphyllum
June 06, 2007 - I had a beautiful Jack In The Pulpit growing and something has eaten it. What can I do to help prevent that next year? I live in Northwestern PA.
view the full question and answer

Does deer repellant really work from Hope NJ
November 10, 2009 - Does Deer Stopper by Messina Wildlife really work as an organic pest repellent?
view the full question and answer

How to protect roses from deer browsing
July 04, 2012 - I would like to plant knock out roses but I am concerned the deer will eat them? Advice?
view the full question and answer

Deer Resistance Input from Northern VA
June 22, 2016 - Hello. I live in the deer infested woods of Northern VA. I am always looking for plants that deer have little interest in to cover other plants. The deer generally have little interest in mints (Py...
view the full question and answer

Deer-resistant trees for privacy in Texas
January 09, 2015 - I need to find a deer resistant tall shrub or tree to plant and hide the deer fence my neighbor just put up on our property line. My property has full sun in parts and mostly shady in other parts and ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.