While many gardeners consider deer as pests when it comes to gardening, plenty of wildlife enthusiasts welcome deer to their yards. One type of plant for deer includes ground covers. The beauty of ground covers relies on the fact that they grow back quickly, so the landscape maintains its green color while also feeding the local wildlife population.
Grass remains one of the best ground covers for both foraging and protection of baby fawns. While adult deer eat the grass, the cover provides a safe place for newborn fawns to rest and hide from predators. Varieties of grass such as Canada wild-rye, June grass and blue grass work best when planted right up to the forest edge. To improve the foraging opportunities of this ground cover, the area should be mowed and fertilized in August of every third year.
Deer love clover, and several types grow well in yards or meadows. For a lush look, plant a single big-leaf variety such as shasta ladino or duration red, or purchase a commercial mix of several varieties. Clover needs to be planted in the spring and once established, provides foliage that attracts not only deer but other wildlife, too.
Oasis Forage Chicory
This ground cover typically works well for livestock. Deer also find it a useful food source. This perennial broad-leaf plant starts growing early in the springtime, making it ideal for early-season foraging. Oasis chicory grows in a range of well-drained soils and is best planted in mid-spring, although it can be planted in the fall as well.
Used to feed livestock, crown vetch also works well as a ground cover to attract deer. The seed needs to be planted in the spring. Considered a cool-season legume, the tender shoots of the plants make a desirable food source, but the attraction lessens as the plant's leaves get tougher. The plant also works well in landscapes where erosion control or banks need to be stabilized, making it useful in more ways than one.
Deer find this woody vine a ready food source in the early spring when nutritious greenery is less available. Even though some gardeners consider the plant invasive, others find it works well as an ornamental plant with interesting reddish leaves. Virginia creeper looks similar to poison ivy, but sports five leaves instead of poison ivy's typical three.