With spring upon us, many members of the Iowa City community will soon be heading outdoors to return their hands to the soil and begin preparing their homes and gardens for another growing season. However, few things can be as frustrating for those with a green thumb than seeing the fruits of their labor become dinner for deer. 

Here are some tips to help keep your plants from becoming an all-you-can-eat buffet:

  • Plant a diversity of plants. This will ensure that if deer find a particular species appealing, that plant won't be available in high numbers in your yard or garden. Deer also prefer not to search too long for their favorite plants and could be deterred if they don't find something to their liking right away. 
  • Consult with nursery and garden center professionals when selecting a species or variety, especially for evergreens and shrubs. They can lead you to options that are less appealing to deer.
  • Consider a deer repellant. Keep in mind these are most effective when applied frequently.
  • Use fencing. Deer will rarely jump over a fence that is at least 8’ high or into a space that they perceive to be an enclosure. If you are considering installing a fence within Iowa City, please review the Fences, Walls, and Hedges standards in the City Code (14-4C-2, part L) and contact Neighborhood and Development Services (319-356-5120) to find out if you need a fence permit.

Additional resources on Educational Information & Non-Lethal Management are available online.

Community members are reminded that feeding deer is prohibited in Iowa City. This includes putting out grain, fodder, salt licks, fruit, vegetables, nuts, hay or other edible materials (including bird feed), which may be reasonably expected to result in deer feeding.

For more information, including the 2021-2022 Deer Management Annual report, visit icgov.org/deerprogram.

Date of publication

Friday, April 08, 2022