The interactive effects of herbivory, exotic species, and other human-mediated changes to the biosphere are reducing species diversity and altering ecosystem services globally. In this study, we tested whether facilitation could be used as a management technique to restore a degraded northeast Wisconsin forest understory facing high white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) browse pressure and high abundance of the exotic herb garlic mustard [Alliaria petiolata (Bieb.) Cavara & Grande]. Specifically, we attempted to facilitate native understory restoration by planting or seeding native herbs into three different matrix densities of the native, browse-tolerant grass Virginia wildrye (Elymus virginicus L.), which were either protected from (fenced), or accessible to, deer browsing. Deer had minimal impacts on E. virginicus but significantly reduced the cover, survival, and flower production of white snakeroot [Ageratina altissima (L.) King & H.E. Robins.] transplants, largely independent of the density of E. virginicus plantings in open-access plots. In contrast, the richness and abundance of native-seeded species were not affected by deer access but were reduced by increasing E. virginicus densities. Alliaria petiolata cover was significantly higher in plots accessible to deer but declined significantly with increasing E. virginicus planting density in both open-access and fenced plots. These results were largely corroborated by results from an associated observational study, with the exception that natural E. virginicus stands supported slightly higher native-species richness than did adjacent areas lacking E. virginicus. Thus, although we found little support that establishing E. virginicus facilitated browse-susceptible native understory herbs during our short-term experimental study, restored E. virginicus successfully established, thereby increasing native species cover and significantly reducing the cover of the exotic A. petiolata. We suggest the planting of browse-tolerant native species, such as E. virginicus, as a viable restoration technique in heavily browsed, A. petiolata–invaded woodlands.