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How to attract deer to your yard all year round! Deer are beautiful animals, and their presence in your garden or yard will add charm. Although other methods exist, the most effective way to attract deer to your yard is to ensure an abundant food supply. This means having vegetation that deer love to eat.

You can also ensure that any physical barriers that may prevent deer from accessing your yard are removed, plant our recommended varieties of warm and cool season crops, or any of our list of recommendations.

Let’s look at the solutions in detail!

What Attracts Deer?

How to attract deer to your yard all year round with food, water, and shelter

Deer will generally move from place to place in search of food, water, and safety. Having these in abundant supply in your home is an effective way of attracting deer to your backyard. Several techniques can be used to do this.

Here are some examples:

Increase Food Availability

While the instinct might be to provide the deer directly with food through food plots and feeders, this can be time-consuming and expensive. A better approach may be to manage the natural vegetation around you to make it more attractive for deer to go there.

When it comes to managing natural vegetation, here are some strategies that you could explore:

Strip Disking

This is done to stimulate the growth of native vegetation in the area. By tilling the top layer of the soil, you can promote the growth of native grasses and other woody plant species that are attractive to deer for food.


This involves removing old grass species on road edges and fields. Doing this allows for native species to take root. You get the best results by doing this in tandem with disking.

Forest Thinning

When your woodland has a thick cover, sunlight cannot reach the forest floor effectively. This, in turn, reduces the amount of vegetation that grows there and, thus, the amount of food available for deer. Thinning your wooded area helps to reverse this process.

As you think about your wooded area, focus on removing undesirable tree species, so you are left with the kind of trees that deer like, such as white cedars.

You can also explore adding fertilizer to the (now) exposed parts of the forest floor to encourage vegetation growth. As part of the forest thinning process, you should consider creating openings in the middle of the woods. 

Controlled Burning

This is an excellent way of encouraging the growth of natural vegetation. Controlled burning helps to replenish the fertility of the soil while at the same time creating space for natural species to grow. 

Using Food Plots

If you want to concentrate deer in certain sections of your yard, you can use food plots to encourage large numbers of deer there.

You can have a mix of annual species (which are easier to grow but are seasonal) with perennials which require a lot more attention but will attract deer for longer. Place these food plots strategically throughout the space in question. 

Plant Cover Plants

Whitetail deer drinking with trees for cover

Planting different cover plants in your yard may help bring more deer to your space. Cover plays two critical roles for the deer:

  1. It acts as a food source for the animals and
  2. provides safety from predators.

Deer are especially drawn to places with tall grasses, where they can effectively hide from predators. To use this fact, you should ensure that the grass at the edge of the woodland is taller than in the rest of the yard. This will encourage deer to step out of their woodland shelter and into your yard.

You can promote these actions further by strategically placing food plots near these edges.

Provide Water

Deer can typically get plenty of water from the food that they consume. However, they may also need to supplement this by drinking water from springs, rivers, and other sources.

You can use water to attract deer into your yard. If you have a water source on your land, ensure that it is lined with trees to protect it from pollutants. Trees act as a filter that prevents eroded soil from getting to the water source.

Trees also act as cover for the animals, making it safer for them to venture out to your water source.

Attracting Deer All Year Round

You may wonder how you can attract deer in your yard all year round. The trick to doing this is being strategic about using some of the techniques we have discussed above.

Let’s look at this in detail:

Food Plots

Food plots are not just a way to concentrate deer in your yard but, when used strategically, can keep them around all year. This is through planting plants that will flower or fruit at different times of the year, ensuring that you always have deer in your yard.

Fruit trees such as pears and apples are also a great way to keep deer coming to your yard. 


A mineral lick block for how to attract deer to your yard all year round
Mineral lick block for deer

Apart from food and water, the one thing that deer will always need all year round is salt and other minerals. Placing mineral blocks strategically around your yard ensures that deer will always find a reason to visit your yard.

Often, deer struggle to find these sources of minerals during certain seasons (such as winter), and having mineral licks in your yard can help keep deer around even during these harsh times.

Thermal Shelters

Certain trees and shrubs help keep deer sheltered from icy cold winds, especially during winter. Planting trees such as cedars, pines, and spruce densely together in certain spots can provide the thermal shelter that these animals need.

In addition, conifers also shield the deer from predators, and deer will naturally head to these spots for their safety.

Think About the Seasons

Deer will often go through different cycles depending on the season. They also change what they eat depending on food availability, among many other factors.

For example, deer will feed on buds and tender shoots in spring, which is also the season that they are likely to have fawns. This kind of food is essential for them, as it helps them produce the milk they need for their young.

In summer, deer will focus on younger plants and lush meadows, which have the nutrients they require for the growth of their fawns. Finally, deer will likely form large herds in winter and feed on browse from the natural vegetation. If available, they also like lush plants such as kale and cabbages

If you are looking to attract deer all year round, this feeding cycle must be kept in mind.

For example, having lush foliage in your yard during fall and winter can help you attract deer during these seasons. During spring and summer, the deer can probably find these tender plants in the wild, so you can use other means to attract them, such as water or mineral licks.

Planting to Attract Deer to Your Yard

Here’s how to attract deer to your yard all year round with a field of clover

Deer are attracted to a variety of plants. It is good news for anyone looking to attract deer all year round, as you have many options to consider. We are going to list some of the best plants for how to attract deer to your yard all year round.

Cool Season Plants That Deer Love

  • White Clover
  • Red Clover
  • Arrowleaf Clover
  • Crimson Clover
  • Oats
  • Alfalfa
  • Rye
  • Vetch

Warm Season Plants That Deer Love

  • Lyce Clover
  • Cowpeas
  • Deer Vetch
  • Soybeans
  • Lablab
  • Corn
  • Buckwheat

Perennial Plants That Deer Love

  • Alfalfa
  • Forage Chicory
  • Red Clover 
  • White Clover 

When it comes to a deer’s favorite flower, there is no definite consensus on this. Deer species such as the Whitetail have been known to eat as many as 400 species of plants and flowers.

However, the bulk of the nutrition comes from relatively few species of plants. Most of these select few include browse, forbs, and mast. These can account for up to 80% of what deer consume.

Native Plants That Deer Love

If you are thinking of planting native plants that will bring deer around to your yard, the choice of what to go for depends on the area that you live in. Here are some suggestions for what to plant based on various locations in North America.


Some choices here include coral berries, greenbrier, ragweed, trumpet creeper, and wild lettuce, among many others. 


Residents of this area can consider jewelweed, Virginia creeper, poison ivy, wild sarsaparilla, and Canadian mayflower.


Your choices in these areas include honeysuckle, greenbrier, brambles, and grape. Some others on this list include American beautyberry and Florida pusley.


Some plants you can consider if you live in Canadian provinces such as British Colombia include pondweed, sow thistle, Virginian strawberry, choke cherry, and snowberries.

The Canadian mayflower, as well as wild lettuce, should also be considered.

Feeding Deer In Your Backyard

Feeding deer in your backyard is generally not recommended unless under very exceptional circumstances. Feeding deer, especially in times of scarce food availability, such as winter, can do more harm to deer than good.

Artificial feeding sites can harm deer in the following way:

  • When deer congregate at feeding sites, there is an increased chance that diseases among the deer will spread faster due to increased proximity.
  • Artificial feeding sites also create opportunities for predators such as coyotes and others to hunt deer.
  • The movement to and from feeding sites by the deer results in lower fat levels, which may cause the deer to lack the energy they need to survive winter.
  • Increased chances of deer-vehicle accidents as herds congregate near feeding sites.

In cases where there is a massive scarcity of food, feeding deer can improve survival rates, but it needs to be done with care to avoid the risks mentioned above.

What to Feed Deer

If you have to feed deer, there are several things that you can consider. The best of these is to take advantage of the fact that deer love to browse, which includes the soft, tender twigs found at the top of trees.

When trees are felled, the soft ends at the top of the tree become accessible to the deer. This tends to be in rhythm with deer’s tendency to opt for twigs and other browse during winter.

You should also consider feeding plots with soft foliage, which deer love. Artificial feeds made from oats, alfalfa, corn, and other plant products are also available in shops. They come in the form of pellets or grounded meals.

Deer Food Plot Basics

One of the reasons why people use feeding plots is to increase the number of deer in their yards and farms.

While some do this for hunting purposes, having more deer in your yard can also improve the aesthetics of your yard. It also provides shelter and food to these animals, which may help, especially in areas with low deer population levels.

The trick with food plots is to vary the species that you plant within the plots, so you can ensure that you can solve the question of how to attract deer to your yard all year round.

Spread the feeding plots around the space, which helps prevent deer from congregating in one area. This way, the risk of spreading diseases among the herd is minimized. Spreading feeding plots also reduces the risk of aggression as large herds fight over limited food plots.

Other ways to naturally attract deer include using mineral licks, which deer love to boost their micro-nutrient needs. Planting cover plants such as tall grasses can attract deer and find safety from predators in the tall grasses.