Do Deer Eat Boxwood? (and 15 Ways to PROTECT your Garden)

As a nature enthusiast with a particular interest in deer, I’ve often found myself wondering: do deer eat boxwood shrubs? The answer may surprise you. Read on to find out whether these popular landscaping plants are safe from the grazing habits of these majestic animals.

Do Deer Eat Boxwood?

Boxwood is a shrub commonly used in gardens and landscaping. Despite being occasionally experimented by young deer or under extreme conditions, it is generally not a favored food choice for deer. Some gardeners even use it to protect other plants from deer damage. In case of deer damage, spraying deer repellent on the boxwood plant is recommended. Overall, deer tend to avoid boxwood in their diet.

Factors That Make a Shrub Unpalatable to Deer

As any gardener knows, deer can be a destructive and frustrating pest. One of the easiest ways to keep deer at bay is by planting shrubs that they find unappealing. But what makes a shrub unpalatable to deer? Generally, deer avoid plants with strong scents or those with bitter, rough, or fuzzy foliage. They are also less likely to eat plants with thorns or prickly leaves.

If you have struggled with deer damage to your shrubs in the past, incorporating deer-resistant plants into your landscape design could be an effective solution. Fortunately, there are many beautiful shrubs that deer find unappetizing, so you don’t have to sacrifice aesthetics for function. Keep reading for a list of some of the best options for deer-resistant shrubs.

List of Deer-Resistant Shrubs

Evergreen Options

1. Boxwood: As we mentioned earlier, boxwood is a great option for gardeners seeking deer-resistant shrubs. This elegant evergreen is known for its ability to withstand deer browsing without significant damage.

2. Yew: The needle-like leaves of this evergreen make it an unappetizing snack for deer. It’s also a popular choice for homeowners looking to add vertical interest to their landscapes.

3. Inkberry: This compact evergreen shrub has shiny, dark green leaves and tiny, white flowers. It is also deer-resistant, making it a great option for those struggling with deer damage.

Deciduous Options

1. Smokebush: The “smoky” appearance of this shrub’s blooms is matched only by its strong, unappetizing scent. Fortunately, deer tend to avoid this stunning plant.

2. Ninebark: This multistemmed shrub is prized for its colorful foliage and abundant flowers. It’s also a deer-resistant option, making it a great choice for landscaping in deer-heavy areas.

3. Witch Hazel: This unique shrub blooms in winter, producing vibrant yellow flowers with a spidery appearance. It’s also highly deer-resistant, making it a perfect choice for the winter gardener.

Boxwood Shrubs and Deer Resistance

Boxwood is one of the most popular shrubs for gardeners due to its elegant appearance and ability to be pruned into a wide variety of shapes. However, many wonder if boxwood is deer-resistant. The good news is that boxwood is generally not a preferred food choice for deer and is often left untouched. In rare cases, younger deer or deer under extreme conditions may experiment with boxwood consumption, but it is not a significant threat to the plant’s overall health. Gardeners who experience boxwood damage from deer can spray the plant with deer repellent to prevent future damage.

Best Practices for Planting Deer-Resistant Shrubs

While planting deer-resistant shrubs can be an effective way to keep deer out of your garden, it’s important to remember that no plant is 100% deer-proof. Deer can be tenacious creatures and may still nibble on your shrubs if they are hungry enough. Planting a variety of deer-resistant plants and adding additional deer-proofing measures to your landscape can help protect your plants from deer damage. Some popular deer-proofing methods include fencing, motion-activated sprinklers, and applying deer repellent.

15 Ways to protect your garden from deer

1. Fence in your garden

One of the most effective ways to prevent deer from entering your garden is by installing a fence. Opt for a fence that is at least 8 feet tall and made from materials that are sturdy and able to withstand the deer’s weight and strength.

Also, make sure that deer can’t see what’s on the other side of the fence, so they will not be tempted to jump.

2. Use deer-resistant plants

Using plants that deer find unpleasant can help to protect your garden. Opt for plants that are highly fragrant, prickly, or have tough leaves. Examples include tall verbena, thyme, barberry, and juniper.

3. Apply a repellent

There are a number of commercial and homemade repellents that can be applied to plants and around the garden to deter deer. Some common ingredients include egg and garlic mixture, hot pepper spray, and vinegar.

4. Use visual deterrents

You can use various visual deterrents to scare deer from approaching your garden. This includes using reflective surfaces, such as old CDs, streamers, or flags, to create light and movement that will frighten the deer.

5. Install motion-activated sprinklers

Motion sensors that trigger lights or sprinklers can be effective in scaring deer from the garden. This method works well as it creates a sudden noise and movement, which can startle the deer.

6. Use electronic repellents

Electronic repellents are designed to deter deer with sound or light stimuli. Ultrasonic devices, for instance, produce high-frequency sounds that are unsavory to deer.

7. Create barriers

Creating physical barriers, such as thorny branches and netting, can also keep deer away from the garden. These barriers can be placed around plants or surrounding the garden.

8. Plant around the garden

You can distract deer from entering the garden by planting a barrier of unpalatable plants they don’t like. This includes herbs and flowers like lavender, chrysanthemums, and catnip.

9. Keep your garden neat and tidy

Deer are attracted to gardens with tall grass, weeds, and fallen leaves. Keep your garden well-maintained by mowing the lawn regularly and raking up any debris around the garden to avoid tempting the deer.

10. Plant a double line of deterrents

Planting a double line of deterrents, such as dual fences or paired shrubs, can be an effective way to protect your garden from deer. The extra thickness of the barrier makes it harder for deer to jump or push through.

11. Move potential food sources

If there are any plants that deer seem to be particularly attracted to, consider moving them to an area where they cannot be easily seen. Alternatively, you can remove those plants altogether, or fence them off to protect them.

12. Use scent deterrents

Deer have sensitive noses, and can be deterred by strong scents, such as human hair, Irish Spring soap, and mothballs. Consider placing these odorous substances around the garden or the perimeter to repel them.

13. Get a dog

A well-trained dog can be an effective and natural deterrent to deer. Their presence and smell alone can keep the deer away, given that dogs are known to prey on deer.

14. Use scare tactics

Scare tactics, such as decoys or scarecrows, can be used to frighten deer. Place fake predators, like owls or coyotes, in or around the garden, or construct scarecrows to make deer think there is human presence in the area.

15. Install deer repellent lights

Deer repellent lights give off an ultraviolet light that can be unappealing to deer. These lights are designed to be on 24/7 and can be installed in trees surrounding the garden, or on pegs throughout the garden.


What creature consumes boxwood?

Boxwood is often grown as a hedge due to its dense foliage and ease of pruning, but it can fall prey to hungry animals. One culprit may be a four-legged creature that tunnels underground and eats the roots of plants such as boxwood. This animal is not a mole, which feeds on insects, but rather a vole, a small rodent found in many regions of the world. Despite its cute appearance, voles can do a fair bit of damage to gardens and landscaping, so it’s important to take steps to protect boxwood and other vulnerable plants from these pests.


So, do deer really eat boxwood? The answer is not as simple as a yes or no. While boxwood is not a preferred food choice for deer, young deer may experiment with it, and under extreme conditions, they may resort to eating it. But don’t worry, your beloved boxwood plants are generally safe from deer. And for those who live in areas with high deer populations, using boxwood as a natural deterrent to protect other plants in your garden may be a wise choice.

However, if you do notice any deer damage on your boxwood shrubs, fret not. Simply spraying deer repellent on the affected plants can help keep the deer away. So, keep your boxwood shrubs healthy and thriving, and rest easy knowing that deer are not likely to make them their go-to meal choice.

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