Steele: Lawn alternative fends off deer

Many gardeners in the Okanagan have visits from deer, often with distressing results when prize plants become tasty forage.

Ornamental grasses are easy-care

To avoid those problems, choose deer-resistant plants for your landscape. Many are also water-wise. There’s an abundance to choose from.

The plant database at has a deer-resistant category under special features.

My lawnless front yard is planted with many species of xeriscape plants. Deer pass through frequently, fertilizing as they go.

New shoots of Sedum Autumn Joy are the only thing eaten. The plant recovers to be more compact when it blooms in fall.

Most of my plants have aromatic foliage which deer don’t like.

These include perennials like salvias, Russian sage, anthemis (perennial Marguerites), hyssops, nepetas (catnip), artemesias, geraniums and three well-behaved (non-spreading, non-seeding) yarrow varieties: Achillea ‘Moonshine’, A. ‘Paprika’ and A. ‘Terra Cotta.’

Euphorbia polychroma (cushion spurge) has sticky sap in its stems that deer don’t like.

Fragrant culinary herbs: thyme, sage, oregano, chives, dill and lavender have interesting variations in foliage and flowers.

Spring bulbs provide a welcome splash of colour after winter. Now is the time to buy and plant them.

Animal/deer-proof bulbs include narcissus (daffodils) and alliums (ornamental onions). Look for early, mid and late season varieties.

Ornamental grasses are deer-proof and a very low maintenance option, just needing to be cut down to about six inches once a year, usually early in the spring.

There are many ornamental grasses to choose from in a variety of sizes. Be sure to choose clump forming varieties unless you want spreaders (running) for erosion control.

So far the deer have not touched my forsythia, viburnum, ninebark, sumac, rabbitbrush or Oregon grape.

Marigolds and calendula are annuals with aromatic leaves so are deer-proof.

Annual sunflowers reseed plentifully every year. They are great for pollinators and their seeds are loved by songbirds.

The deer ignore them until fall when the bucks appear and rub their antlers on the tall stalks.

I always know when they have visited because my sunflowers and everything nearby look like a battleground with stalks knocked over or broken and all the ground stirred up.

This year I plan to pull them all up before the bucks come and will tie any stalks with uneaten seed to a fence so the birds can still feast.

I need to put wire cages around some new trees to prevent them being rubbed and snapped off.


Celebrate International Rivers Day by attending WaterVoices, a free event at the Kelowna Art Gallery 1315 Water St., on Saturday, 7 to 9 p.m.

For more information email or phone 778-821-0766.


The Kelowna Garden Club’s next meeting is Tuesday, Oct. 4, 7:30 p.m., at the First Lutheran Church, 4091 Lakeshore Rd.

The guest speaker will be Gunther Eberhaster, owner of Dogwood Nursery.


There are still some spaces in my ‘Introduction to Xeriscape Gardening’ class on Monday, Sept. 26 and Oct. 3, from 7 to 9 p.m., at St Michael and All Angels Cathedral Hall, 608 Sutherland Ave., in Kelowna.

For more details or to register, go to

Just Posted

Half-priced cat adoptions at the Kelowna SPCA

Adult cats are 50 per cent off until July 29 at the Kelowna shelter

Wildfire remains out of control near Lake Country

Lake Country - The fire started near Dee Lake, southwest of Coldstream yesterday

Kelowna RCMP investigating after woman finds a bullet in her car

The police believe it was an act of negligence

Waters: Can retired Kelowna top cop leave his old badge at the door?

Current and former Kelowna RCMP superintendents using different approaches to tackle downtown crime

Firefighters take to the roof of the Kelowna Yacht Club

Firefighters are supporting the The Bridge Youth & Family Services Society this weekend

Trudeau asks transport minister to tackle Greyhound’s western pullout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s asked Transport Minister Marc Garneau to find solutions in Greyhound Canada’s absence.

Restaurant Brands International to review policy over poaching employees

One of Canada’s largest fast-food company to review ‘no-poach’ franchise agreements

Calgary family’s vacation ends in tragedy on Texas highway

Three people died and four others were injured in the crash

Union construction cost competitive, B.C. Building Trades say

Non-union firms can bid on infrastructure, but employees have to join international unions

Arrows stick it to Adanacs

Vernon Men’s Baseball League playoff final

Trudeau to shuffle cabinet ahead of Liberals’ team for 2019

Trudeau could lighten the work loads of cabinet ministers who currently oversee more than one portfolio

Car calls 911 on possible impaired B.C. driver

A luxury car automatically calls Princeton police to scene of crash involving alcohol

BC Games marks 40 years in 2018

Cowichan Games a milestone for BC Games Society

Hergott: What is a dog owner’s responsibility?

This week lawyer Paul Hergott continues his issue over dog attacks

Most Read