Deer-Resistant Design – snippets and book giveaway!

Deer-Resistant Design book

It's been an exciting week – my latest book, Deer-Resistant Design: Fence-Free Gardens that Thrive Despite the Deer (Timber Press, 2019) arrived! I immediately sat down to write a note to each of the contributors and sign a copy for them – in between dancing around the kitchen! Let me explain a bit more about this labor of love….

Why I wrote this book.

When we moved to this property I knew there were deer and wasn't afraid of the challenge. After all I knew there were some good lists of deer-resistant plants. What I hadn't understood was that that was ALL there was – and that lists don't translate into a strong design.

"I needed ideas for expansive borders as well as more intimate vignettes, specimen trees and focal points, bold sweeps of color and intriguing textures, and as a designer, I wasn't willing to settle for anything less than fabulous."

Who is this book for?

"This book has been written to encourage and inspire homeowners just like you with stories and photographs of mature landscapes that have withstood the test of time and taste-testing of deer……without resorting to fences or pouring concrete in despair…..Landscape architects, designers, master gardeners, garden consultants, and nursery professionals will also benefit from the resource this book provides."

Relevant no matter where you live.

Illustration by Katie Pond (my amazingly talented daughter!) showing the location of each featured garden. (Each icon represents a unique quality about the garden – octopus? jeans? egg? Read the book!)

Featuring 13 case studies from across the United states, "each chapter features one tenacious gardener and tells the story of their garden, describing their personal design criteria, the challenges they face, and the strategies they employ as they refuse to be thwarted."

How will it help me?

You will glean;

  • Important design strategies that will help minimize damage, distract the eye, and re-focus attention
  • Re-routing techniques to keep the deer out of your roses and more!
  • Ideas for plant combinations (SO much more helpful than just lists of individual plants)….but you'll also find…
  • Each homeowners Top 10 deer-resistant plants (and there are some really cool ones!)
  • A better understanding of the levels of deer-resistance
  • Tips for seasonal barriers against rutting as well as browsing
  • Recipes and lists of recommended repellent sprays
  • 20 container gardening designs that are also deer-resistant!

Meet the tenacious homeowners

Top row: Jay Sifford, Scott and Lezli Bradley, Pam Penick. Middle row; Todd & Anna Brooks, Maryellen & Michael McCulloch, Judy & Tom Muntz. Bottom row: Michael & Anita Sheehan, Diana Kirby, Janet Burch

One of the true joys of writing this book has been meeting these wonderful, generous designers and homeowners whose gardens, ideas, and strategies I was able to share. It has been a true privilege to tell their story and an experience I shall always look back on with a smile. Not all wished to be photographed but let me tell you a little about each of them and their chapter here;

Designer's Dream Garden – despite wildlife, water, and weeds

Homeowners: Karen & Andy Chapman, Duvall, WA. Design by Karen Chapman, Le jardinet

A story of tenacity, when the best thing going for the garden initially was a very large, very dead bigleaf maple. Laugh with us as you read our story of sheer determination.

Country Garden- where daunting challenges become exciting opportunities.

Homeowners: Ruth & William Bloom, Essex Fells, NJ. Design by Susan Cohan Gardens

Rambunctious (but adorable) dogs, hurricanes, flooding, and a steep slope were all considerations that the designer took in her stride. Stunning hardscape, exemplary spatial flow, and broad brushstrokes of soft colors are hallmarks of this award-winning design.

Desert Oasis- where neither heat, nor drought, nor deer diminish the mirage.

Homeowner David and Pam Penick, Austin TX. Design by Pam Penick.

Succulents, diaphanous grasses, unique art, shimmering palms – this is not your typical Texas garden – but then Pam is not your typical designer.

Blue Jeans Garden- where kids and dogs are always welcome

Homeowners and designers: Anna and Todd Brooks, Stevensville, MI (Arcadia Gardens LLC)

Creating a beautiful garden with rogue basketballs and an exuberant dog is challenge enough. Add deer into the mix and the struggle is real….and then there is the fact that husband Todd mistook a prized glass gazing ball for a kids football and kicked it out of the border…..

Storyteller's Garden – unveiling magic, one chapter at a time.

Homeowner and designer: Jay Sifford, Charlotte, NC

Is there anything more terrifying than writing about a garden whose owner is both a designer AND a gifted writer?! I was relieved when I received the following text; "I'll have to say that I KNEW you were a very good writer, but your command of prose and attention to detail really captured the essence of my garden and its magic. Thanks so much for including me!!!" Discover for yourself how he created such a masterpiece despite up to 13 deer visiting every day.

Garden of Survivors – where serendipity and inspired design go hand in hand.

Homeowners: Joel Guillory and Janet V. Burch, Stevensville, MI. Design by Maria Smithburg (Artemisia Landscape Design)

With links to the Chicago mafia, this home has an intriguing history  but it was the surrounding property that really caught Janet's imagination. Read how she manages not just the wild weather courtesy of Lake Michigan, but also constant deer pressure and how she transformed a weed-infested parking lot into a masterpiece.

Garden of Connections – between people, flora, and fauna

Homeowners: Michael & Maryellen McCulloch, Portland, OR. Designed by Ann Lovejoy, Beth Holland, Laura Crockett, Eamonn Hughes, John Greenlee

80 acres, herds of deer and elk, lavender fields, wildlife-rich meadows, panoramic views, an unforgettable sense of "place" – you'll love this chapter.

Confetti Garden – where pops of color punctuate the landscape

Homeowners: Jeff Eller & Diana Kirby, Austin, TX. Design by Diana Kirby (Diana's Designs)

Elegant plant combinations and artistic color echoes that could be replicated in England or the PNW – yet this is Austin where temperatures often exceed 100'F and the native soil is shallow and rocky.

Lake House Garden – where every day is a vacation

Homeowners: Tom & Judy Muntz, Stevensville, MI. Designer Arcadia Gardens LLC

Sandy soil, woodland shade, lack of privacy, and an underground propane tank were additional challenges beyond the ubiquitous deer. When Judy also requested a cutting garden and a spot to grow a few edibles the designer had her work cut out.

Collector's Garden – where hostaholics and deer draw a tentative truce

Homeowners and designers: Michael & Anita Sheehan, Holland, NY

I had to see this to believe it; 600 juicy hostas and almost 300 daylilies – and not a bite mark on them. Read their story and take heart if you are a determined collector of roses , hosta or other deer-caviar!

Hilltop Hacienda – where native and adapted plants bring Mexico to Texas.

Homeowners: Richard & Margaret Lonquist, Austin, TX. Design by Tait Moring (Tait Moring & Associates)

Remarkable – from the agave hedge to the panoramic views across Texas Hill Country to the architectural plantings of grasses, succulents, and cacti – this is one you won't forget. Great ideas for protecting vegetables too.

Curated Garden – where everyday natives and choice ornamentals find common ground

Homeowners: Jim & Deborah Heg, Greenbank, WA. Design by Deborah Heg

24 years of experimenting, planting, and adjusting have gone into this Whidbey Island property. It is a masterpiece of unexpected vignettes with some drool-worthy plants to add to your shopping list.

Suburban Retreat – bringing Colorado to New Jersey

Homeowners: Scott and Lezli Bradley, Chatham, NJ. Design by Susan Cohan Gardens

A hammock suspended over a carpet of feathery ferns, the illusion of seclusion thanks to artful placement of trees, Colorado touchstones; both plants and boulders – this is a perfect story of a vision well executed.

Where can I buy this book?

Glad you asked! Lots of options.

It;s been rocking the Amazon charts this week even before it has started to ship!

Enter to win a copy!

Just leave a comment below telling me why you NEED this book and be entered to win a signed copy in a random draw!

Giveaway rules:

Only USA residents may enter to win a copy (sorry)

A random number generator will draw a name on Tuesday July 16th at 9pm PDT.

Winner will be notified by email and have 48 hours to claim their prize, after which time a new name will be drawn


Good luck!

More Resources

Get my FREE download 15 FUN deer-resistant plants

Check out my online workshop "Designing a Deer-Resistant Garden."

Excerpts from Deer-Resistant Design. Affiliate links are include in this post

And the winner is…

Comment #19: Carol Yemola! Congratulations! You have 48 hours to respond to the email I have sent to you and claim your prize. So sorry everyone else – but thank you for sharing your stories with me. Maybe you'd like to purchase a copy of my book anyway?

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  1. Ruth Semon on July 9, 2019 at 3:07 am

    I have a Doe and her 2 fawns that visit yearly over the past 10 years ( Now must be next generation or two!) They leave their tracks yearly to where the roses I never knew the color of since moving into this home. I removed them years ago and planted their next favorite item-tulips!! If I am diligent I can deter them with garlic powder and/or paprika but I forget after a good rain or on a warm evening. Since attaining this property, I have by hand, amended all the beds and done my own designs by reading books like yours and visiting lots of the wonderful Nurseries and gardens in the Portland area with my garden friend whom introduced me to this fulfilling passion I own today. But… I share my endeavors and plants with a few 4 legged “friends” with a nose for quality and lack of sensitivity for my efforts. Your Deer -resistant book of ideas are most welcome!! Thank you for listening:)

    • Lisa Melton on July 9, 2019 at 2:54 pm

      I live in a neighborhood of lawns and junipers, and so have the only garden and landscaping diverse enough to draw the attention of our resident deer population. I have my roses in the back yard surrounded by fencing, but am planning a border planting in my unprotected front yard that is right along the deer’s daily path. I need inspiration!

  2. Joan Brasier on July 9, 2019 at 3:26 am

    I enjoy your blog and your writing. I share your passion for gardening and taught myself what I know too. I love gardening books of many kinds. My personal passion is native plants and my garden is planned but has a wild cottage feel. I’m on a small Asheville lot in an area that had deer prior to the completion of building. I haven’t seen a deer in three years. I would enjoy a copy of your book for the exploration of the gardens you share and because I can’t bring myself to buy a book that seems irrelevant to my situation. I do have a number of friends with deer issues and would certainly share with them and turn them on to the book if I had a copy.

  3. Peggy Riccio on July 9, 2019 at 4:51 am

    Congratulations, this is much needed in the gardening field. I would like a copy because gardeners in my Washington DC metro area are always complaining about deer and asking what to do so this would be a great resource to recommend to them. Plus the book will be a resource for future articles for deer resistant plants!

  4. Brenda on July 9, 2019 at 5:23 am

    I am an avid and curious gardener. I love learning new things and this book offers interesting tidbits on garden design. Hope I win!!!

  5. Craig on July 9, 2019 at 5:28 am

    It is common to see at least 2 if not 6 deer meandering along our side yard, across the back, and into the neighborhood behind us from winter through the autumn. Of course they browse all the way through the beds and yard. This book would help immensely with not only planting resistant varieties but help to protect plants I'd like to keep and thrive if they are on the deer's menu.

  6. Beth on July 9, 2019 at 5:39 am

    When I began gardening here thirty years ago I didn't have a deer problem. Now I have a herd of at least eleven that visit regularly, not to mention the bucks that come in the fall to rub off their velvet on my trees. I need to slowly replace my deer candy (perennials, shrubs and trees) with those that are less appetizing. I'm really looking forward to reading your book!

  7. Sharon Faulkner on July 9, 2019 at 5:52 am

    Between the deer and the bunnies my garden is an oasis of cages and stubbed off plants. Your book would be a welcomed addition to my gardening library.

  8. Paula Bessette on July 9, 2019 at 6:00 am

    The herd is growing! Last year twin fawns were born next door. This year, I see a mom and new babe marauding the neighborhood. I have infrequent visits so far, but start spraying early. I have been really looking forward to the information in this book.

  9. Cherylyn Anderson on July 9, 2019 at 6:27 am

    Helping my brother with his yard in Renton and he has a family of deer. With the information in this book hopefully only buy plants once.

  10. Brooke Hamilton on July 9, 2019 at 6:37 am

    A deer trail leads right through our backyard and down the side. Last year I finally said “Enough!” and put up a deer fence to protect the backyard. But, my front yard is exposed and because of the deer fencing now I can’t get into my side yard without crawling under the netting. Lol. We call the deer big rats because they seem to eat everything! Help!

  11. William Collins on July 9, 2019 at 6:49 am

    Our new home and garden is directly on the traditional grazing trail for a herd of deer who have no predators in the area. They are opportunistic grazers and don’t particularly care to work for their food. While we do not mind them munching on the clover in the lawn, it is disheartening to see them eat Crocosmia flowers right before our eyes. They can’t blame the rabbits for the missing blossoms that are two and three feet above the ground. We look forward to reading and employing design techniques that encourage these critters to “just walk on by.”

  12. Barbara Nugent on July 9, 2019 at 7:00 am

    Oh boy, so many of us are looking for help. The past few years have been particularly daunting when it comes to trying to protect the remnants of what was once a nice landscape. Even my hollies don’t stand a chance anymore, but at least they grow back fairly quickly. The boxwoods an Japanese pieris have remained solid though.
    I live next to a large wooded area so after all the years it has finally dawned on me not to plant hostas, lillies, tulips, etc. I finally realized that deer do what deer do and I need to adjust my thinking. So here I am, looking for a more rational approach to gardening. And your book fits the bill. Thank you!

  13. Alexa King on July 9, 2019 at 7:31 am

    My son and his family are in a home new to them. Their front yard is not new to their tall four legged neighbors, who are enjoying snacks as they browse their way past irresistible morsels. Your new book is sure to help stave off frustration as they chose replacements that are not so delicious.

  14. Barb Roberts on July 9, 2019 at 8:13 am

    I acquired a home in the Sierras where deer freely roam. Asked my gardener to plant the planters on my porch because I really didn’t know the climate specifics. Drove home. Beautiful! Got up in the morning to take pictures. Not a single bite remained! Gardeners everywhere need this! Thank you! I’ve been following you for years. This will be your most helpful advice yet for me,

  15. Martha Parker on July 9, 2019 at 8:19 am

    Oh, yes, I have been unintentionally feeding the deer for twenty years. I need to start fresh with new ideas.

  16. Paulette Hummer on July 9, 2019 at 8:45 am

    We live on Whidbey Island and the deer love strolling in the yards just chopping away. What amazes me is they leave my hosta and tulips alone and eat my petunias. Go figure! I’d love to win this book to start a garden renovation that won’t make my yard a buffet.

  17. Cathi Lamoreux on July 9, 2019 at 9:06 am

    I need this book to add to my Karen Chapman library of books! And, my efforts to distract the deer from "deer caviar" aren't always successful!

    • Margaret Corbin on July 9, 2019 at 6:12 pm

      I need to read about deer containment badly

  18. Carol Yemola on July 9, 2019 at 9:36 am

    I live in a rural area where deer are abundant. Every year I begin with high hopes of an amazing garden and every year I find it pruned to the roots.

    • Karen Chapman on July 16, 2019 at 9:02 pm

      Congratulations Carol – you are the WINNER!

      • Carol Yemola on July 18, 2019 at 7:01 pm

        Thank you so much! I can't wait to read this marvelous book!

        • Karen Chapman on July 18, 2019 at 7:06 pm

          I'm so excited for you!

  19. Diane Nichols on July 9, 2019 at 9:42 am

    Thank you for writing this book, Karen! I need it to learn from others who have been successful at deterring deer in their gardens. We have a deer fence around the veggie garden and so far so good. But the rest of the landscape could use a shot of inspiration from photos and info in your book.

  20. Shirley Fox on July 9, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    Your book will help in the front garden where we have had to accept deer damage from fall antlers and growing fawns that haven't read the list of deer resistant plants. We gave up and fenced the back after the herd kept eating everything including plants they're not supposed to eat.

  21. Clarice on July 9, 2019 at 4:57 pm

    So excited to read this book and I'd love to own a copy! We have deer, more a problem in the backyard and orchard than in the front yard, so try to plant mostly deer resistant plants.

  22. Collette Pekar on July 9, 2019 at 8:45 pm

    I keep hoping to outwit the deer by sheer volume with one half acre of perennials on a steep slope overlooking Sequim Bay, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Cascade mountains to the east. They love whatever is in bloom, and ignore last weeks favorite since the buds are now devoured. They also have a nasty habit of uprooting any plant that doesn’t appeal to their tastebuds. I’m not giving up, and neither are they!

  23. Norma Hoffmann on July 10, 2019 at 8:40 am

    Help! Just help! I guess the deer just want my yard to be green without any other colors in it. Oh how I miss my beautiful pink, purple and yellow colored flowers of lupines, columbines and other plants that they enjoyed as a snack.

  24. Donna H. on July 10, 2019 at 11:22 am

    After nurturing my gladiolas to finally bloom, the deer bit their heads off. There are certain areas of our yard that we cannot fence and I thought I was pretty diligent about planting things the creatures wouldn't eat… and I spray. Unfortunately, that isn't enough so I look forward to hearing how other folks deter deer munching in their yards.

  25. Barb H on July 10, 2019 at 12:28 pm

    We live on a beautiful property in the San Juan Islands in the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, the charm of the property is somewhat spoiled by all the deer fencing we have had to put up to protect the plants, shrubs and trees we love. I would love to have this book, it sounds fabulous!

  26. Deborah Martin Shorter on July 14, 2019 at 8:50 pm

    I live and garden plunk in the middle of a deer paradise – well-meaning non-gardening neighbors who feed them, plenty of thickets for habitat, abundant water, and… my garden. My favorite greenhouse manager rolls her eyes and comments about the peculiar preferences of "Hendricks Hill Deer." They continually snip off the blooms from every snapdragon, decimate the arbutus, ravage the eucomis. Short of miles of 7 ft. tall encing to keep them out, I'd love to know more about the beauties they loathe. Serve them right, the prong-footed thieves!

  27. April Bradshaw on July 14, 2019 at 10:01 pm

    I'm building my forever home in North Idaho. Deer are abundant here but I accept that and need help deciding how to create an amazing driveway that won't be nibbled to bits.

  28. Joan on July 15, 2019 at 7:58 am

    I love seeing deer walk along our property. We did not fence the perimeter as most neighbors have done, to allow access for the deer to pass through. We did fence a portion in the back, mostly to protect the grandchildren and pets from the coyotes, and the vegetable garden from rabbits! But I would love some inspiration for the areas outside the fence.