Book Review: "Deerproofing Your Yard and Garden"

Author Rhonda Massingham Hart takes on a very emotional topic in this book. For millions of suburban or rural residents in North America, the backyard is a salad bowl for members of the Odocoileus genus--aka the deer. The author provides a good layman's insight on the biology and psychology of the deer, which forms the foundation for many of the recommendations that are liberally offered throughout this highly readable book, "Deerproofing Your Yard and Garden" (Storey Publishing, 2nd Edition 2005).

I initially picked up the book not so much because I have a deer problem in my garden (I actually get more damage from rabbits) but because so many of my clients have a deer problem. I was hoping for a book that would provide as much insight as could possibly be had from a book. "Deerproofing" delivers a satisfying amount of information--though in many ways, it leaves the reader with more questions than answers.  

First, and to its credit, the book is not strictly about deer-resistant plants. In fact, Massingham Hart illustrates abundantly why plant selection is only one part of creating a deer-resistant strategy. And while she does provide some plant lists, and even provides some insight into what deer-resistant plants have in common (think: strong odors, fuzzy textures, and a few other characteristics), the plant lists will not satisfy someone who is looking for a book of lists.

What's interesting is that, after reading about deer nutrition and deer psychology, you quickly realize there is no such thing as a deer-proof plant list. There are only plants of greater and lesser likelihood on the menu at the Deer Cafe. Nonetheless, I was hoping for more detailed plant research.

The strength of this book is the breadth of topics covered--not the depth of any individual topic. When I finished reading, I was inspired to create a seminar on Deer-resistant landscaping for the UConn Master Gardener program. My research was well informed by the many sources provided in Massingham Hart's book and I offer her book for sale at the seminar.

This is a very useful addition to the gardener's library if you live in deer country.