How Do White-Tailed Deer Change Ecosystems, Anyway?

Credit:  Robert Woeger ,  Unsplash Some facts about deer  An adult white-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginianus , that might weigh between 100 and 150 pounds, must eat about 8-12 pounds of fresh forage every day. They eat a wide range of plants, from flowers to shrubs, to tree saplings, and in oak woodlands, acorns. All of these plants share the characteristic of a certain softness: deer lack upper front teeth, so their browsing involves a sort of mashing and tearing unlike the cutting and biting employed by many other herbivores, large and small, from rabbits to cows. It’s easy to identify deer-browsed areas, once you know the signs. Often there are browse lines at about four feet, below which everything looks as though it’s been trimmed—mature trees and bushes lack lower limbs and leaves, saplings remain stunted, if not eaten to the ground, and flowering plants have lost buds and flowers. In addition, there might be few flowering plants or shrubs, and a preponderance of grasses, sedges

Lawncare Resources On the Web

No chemical lawn inputs, please
Ecological lawncare advice-givers and activist groups abound on the web. While preparing my post "The Polyculture Lawn," I discovered several helpful websites which I recommend for those interested in learning more about ecological lawns.

Because they are national in scope, a good understanding of your own local conditions is necessary before taking their advice. In addition, people interested in native-plant-centric gardens (in my opinion the best kind), should be aware that many plants--especially groundcovers--suggested as alternatives to turfgrass are exotics, and even invasive. That being said, go have a look.
  • The Lawn Reform Coalition at lawnreform.org offers many suggestions and pictures.
  • Safe Lawns at safelawns.org. News and information, and you can order "safe lawn" signs for your turf.

Related Posts:
Pollinator Garden Resources on the Web
The Polyculture Lawn: A Primer
Once in a Lifetime: This is Not My Beautiful Lawn

    Comments