Deer are lovely, graceful creatures best admired from a distance, but definitely not appreciated in the backyard, munching on one's shrubbery and flowerbeds. Unfortunately, as their natural habitat disappears they encroach upon our suburban and exurban neighborhoods, seeking the food proffered by our plantings. Some municipalities may have programs for thinning the deer population, but we as individuals can take steps to minimize the damage posed by this wildlife.
First and foremost, fencing is the best line of defense. It can enclose groupings of plantings, or it can be erected around the property where the deer gain entry. The problem with the first tactic is that it results in unattractively "caged" plantings. Of course, one wishes to view an unencumbered landscape, so the second option is really the way to go. There are many different kinds of deer fencing and it is worth getting professional advice and installation. Fencing could even comprise two parallel fences, with a space in between. For additional assistance contact your local cooperative extension office.(You can find your local cooperative extension by using this map on the USDA website).
Secondly, there are deer repellents which are marketed as effective against browsing. These are generally sprayed on plants. It may be beneficial to switch between products with different active ingredients during the growing season.
And lastly, you can plant deer-resistant plants, keeping in mind that no plant is deer-proof and that you will be limited in your choices. A list compiled by the Plant Information staff follows. You can also find information on the Rutgers website (use the link in the column to the right). This list has been drawn up with input from local gardening professionals and indicates plants that are rarely damaged or seldom severely damaged. In general they are plants that deer despise.