While many of us imagine the cute and cuddly versions of deer like Bambi when we think of fawns frolicking in the woods, it’s an entirely different story when it comes to our yards. Deer eat all manner of vegetation, uprooting gardens and carefully-crafted landscaping in the process. Learning how to keep deer out of your garden effectively spares you the headache of replanting specimens over and over without upsetting the environment.
The most significant help in keeping out these adorable pests is identifying which plant species deer are most attracted to and which ones they can’t stand.
It’s one of the most straightforward solutions for how to repel deer since it not only removes the allure of stepping onto your property in the first place but also litters the grounds with textures and smells that tell deer to turn right around and run.
It’s also critical to understand how to keep deer from eating plants by making them less accessible in the first place, whether by implementing a privacy barrier, multi-level landscaping, or strategically placing them closer to the home.
Whatever solution you need to solve your deer problem, we’ve got the answers for you here.
- Fantastic Advice for How to Keep Deer from Eating Plants
- Keep Fruit Trees to a Minimum
- Shy Away from Plants Deer Love
- Add More of the Plants Deer Hate
- Plant Shrubs Deer Don’t Like to Feel
- Plant Strong-Smelling Plants
- Substitute Plants for Similar Deer-Resistant Ones
- Keep Deer Preferred Plants Close to Home
- Create a Natural Pepper Spray
- How to Repel Deer with Cayenne Pepper
- Create a Rotten Egg Repellent
- Install Privacy Barriers
- Add Fencing Around Gardens
- Deer Proof Garden Using Netting
- Use Fishing Line as Alternative Barrier
- How to Keep Deer From Eating Plants
- Take Your Dog Outside
- Scare Deer Away with Sounds
- Use Other Scare Tactics to Deter Deer
- Use Sprinklers to Spook Deer
- How to Keep Deer Out of Your Garden
- Add Hair Clippings to Gardens
Fantastic Advice for How to Keep Deer from Eating Plants
There are many different approaches to choose from when it comes to finding the perfect deer deterrent.
Deer are highly sensory creatures, which means they respond most to senses like touch, sound, and smell. It’s a critical piece of information that makes reclaiming your garden even easier in terms of constructing the best defense.
Keep Fruit Trees to a Minimum
Who doesn’t love having a tasty orange or apple tree in their yard? Not only does it provide delicious, organic fruit, but it’s far more convenient than a trip to the store. Unfortunately, deer think of fruit trees in similar terms: delicious and completely accessible.
Limiting the number of fruit trees in your yard is one way to keep deer from coming back year after year. With less variety and specimens to choose from, they grow less inclined to make that quick pit stop to your home to sample forbidden fruits.
Removing fruit trees altogether is no fun for you and your family, either. One way to avoid an invasion on your property and still reap the fruits of your rewards is to harvest food as soon as it ripens. Doing this provides you with a fresh and healthy snack while decreasing the access deer have to the fruit.
Shy Away from Plants Deer Love
Fruit trees aren’t the only plants that deer love to nibble on throughout the year. Sadly, many of the flowers and shrubs we enjoy planting are also some of the most appealing to deer.
Pansies, for example, are prized for their vibrant colors, but also act as magnets for deer. Flowers like pansies are also rich in nutrients like protein, making it even more attractive to these hungry critters.
While a hungry deer eats practically everything in its path when push comes to shove, above are a few of the favorite foods deer love to munch on. Replacing even a few of these bushes or flowers with one deer don’t like to eat is a beautiful start to push these animals from your property.
Add More of the Plants Deer Hate
So what vegetation should you plant? Luckily, there are numerous ways to answer that question, though the taste is a huge factor. Deer-resistant plants like marigolds are toxic to most animals, though there is little evidence that suggests this is the reason deer avoid it.
Instead, the plant possesses a bitter taste deer to avoid at all costs, making it a welcome addition in flower beds. As a welcome bonus, marigolds are also ideal for keeping snakes away. They don’t like the scent either. Similar plants to marigolds that deer dislike are boxwoods.
These shrubs contain an alkaline chemical that is poisonous for these animals to ingest, so they stay away from it. Other toxic, deer-resistant flowers are foxglove and poppies, though avoid using these if you have other animals or small children on the property.
You can also try planting deer resistant vines around the borders of your property. Plants like wisteria and trumpet creeper may keep them away and send the wildlife elsewhere.
Plant Shrubs Deer Don’t Like to Feel
Another sensory experience that keeps deer away from your gardens is touch. Adding a few prickly plants to the bunch makes it more uncomfortable for deer to reach desirable food sources.
What about cats? What will keep cats away? Usually, the same types of plants that deter deer are some of the same ones that keep cats and other undesirable creatures out of the yard.
The only exception to this rule is roses, though there are still plenty of thorny plants and brambles are perfect for keeping deer out.
Among these plants is Lamb’s Ear, which has a texture similar to fuzzy, gripping felt. Other plants like firethorn keep away pests using their thorny stems. When you grow a blackberry bush or two, they also work wonderfully as privacy barriers to border property.
Plant Strong-Smelling Plants
The final characteristic to take into account when choosing the right deer-resistant plants is the deer’s keen sense of smell. Because this trait is so sensitive, smells that seem harmless to us are, in fact, quite noxious to them.
Even strong odors from repellents that dissipate after a day for humans still affect deer for weeks. Here are some of the many aromatic plants to use in your garden.
The many different flowers and herbs to choose from make it easy to find a flower bed resident that is both fragrant and appealing to the eyes. Most function effortlessly as groundcover plants and easily fill in space around existing inhabitants.
These are also simple remedies to keep skunks away from your backyard, as they also have a strong sense of smell.
Substitute Plants for Similar Deer-Resistant Ones
Though we briefly touched on the idea, the idea of plant substitutions deserves more than a passing glance. The wonderful thing about finding flowers is that they come in all different shapes and varieties while serving a significant number of purposes.
So, while you may love your tulips, other deer proof shrubs and flowers like daffodils provide an equal aesthetic appeal without a delicious draw for animals. Other deer proof flowers like butterfly milkweed and purple conifers provide a lovely splash of color without all the allure of other plants deer love.
Angel’s Trumpet and Bleeding Hearts are other deer-resistant options that bring just the right blend of color and decoration to a landscape. Another substitution to make is exchanging the flower bed for a hanging plant. If sacrificing your favorite flower is far from a viable option, then try hanging it out of reach in a gorgeous planter.
Keep Deer Preferred Plants Close to Home
In the event parting with the flowers of your garden dreams is impossible, implement a different strategy that appeals to location. Transferring the yummy morsel closer to the house makes it easier to watch what happens to it.
Whether this move calls for travel somewhere along the front porch area or the home’s perimeter beneath a nice window, it allows you to pay better attention to what is happening to it.
While deer have no problem coming onto your lawn or climbing onto porches for a tasty snack, this step does limit their ability to collect food. There is significantly more activity going on the closer the deer gets to the house itself, which is enough to deter them in most cases.
Create a Natural Pepper Spray
A natural ingredient that is environmentally safe to add to your gardens is a spray made from hot pepper flakes. Generally, deer stay away from spicy plants and scents, so spraying the area with a mixture of hot red peppers is an excellent way to reroute their attention elsewhere.
Plus, the recipe of pepper flakes and water ensures your soil and plants remain safe and healthy after application.
To create your spray to get rid of deer or for a simple DIY squirrel repellent, combine the two ingredients in a large saucepan, then let them simmer for approximately 15 minutes. Mix in the Castile soap and blend thoroughly before removing it from the heat.
Let this mixture sit for about 24 hours before adding it to an easy-to-use spray bottle. Spritz the garden and other areas where you suspect deer, cats, squirrels, chipmunks and other unwanted animals may linger. Reapply two or three times a month to keep them out.
How to Repel Deer with Cayenne Pepper
In rare cases, you may find a deer who likes the taste of peppers in gardens. Adding more potent ingredients delivers a whole new take on the pepper repellent sprays method. This recipe combines other key smells deer hate, like vinegar and garlic.
Similar to the previous recipe, add the vinegar and pepper to a large saucepan and add heat. When the recipe begins to boil, stir it for one minute, then strain with a coffee filter. Stir in the ammonia and water, strain again, then toss in the remaining ingredients.
Spray around the garden, though be careful not to spray directly on plants. Additives like vinegar and ammonia often double as weed and vegetation killers, so spray along the perimeter only.
Create a Rotten Egg Repellent
For an added spin on the cayenne pepper recipe, mixing in eggs provides another stinky smell deer can’t stand to be around. Hydrogen sulfide is a gas released by eggs when they start to decompose. It’s what gives rotten eggs that sulfur smell and makes it one of the more effective repellents against deer.
Start by tossing all of the above ingredients in a blender until buttery smooth. Pour them into a sealable container, then let the contents sit outdoors for approximately five days. Afterward, bring the mixture inside and pour it into a spray bottle for easier application.
Coat the plants in your yard, as well as the garden’s perimeter with the formula. The smell should dissipate after a day or two, though the deer still smell it for up to two weeks.
If you don’t enjoy having a lot of birds in your yard, the garlic smell in this recipe also keeps feathered creatures away. Spritz this homemade bird deterrent spray in areas where you don’t want birds to congregate.
Install Privacy Barriers
For more expansive properties where deer easily wander into your yard, you may want to consider a privacy border. These decorative barriers derive from landscaping bigger trees or shrubs, traditionally evergreens.
However, there are a wide variety of styles and looks to ensure your yard maintains the specific appeal you desire. Some ideas are listed below.
Adding a privacy screen works in two ways. You not only keep out most of the wildlife, but you get the added benefit of privacy when outside your home. Most purchase these plants as a small shrub since they tend to grow quickly into a border hedge.
Add Fencing Around Gardens
One of the more effective ways to keep deer out of your vegetable garden is by adding a tall fence. Sometimes, there isn’t any other way around it, though there are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to making your selection. The most reliable avenue to take, though a somewhat unsightly one, is to wrap chicken wire around the perimeter.
When using this method, the required height needs to stretch as high as eight feet to prevent deer from jumping over. If this is not the route you care to go, then electric fencing is your next best step.
With this technique, a four to six foot fence is all that’s required. Set up your electric fence, and it takes care of the rest for you.
Deer Proof Garden Using Netting
There are two ways to use netting to protect plants from deer. The first is by placing wraps around the trunks of trees. This netting keeps the deer from rubbing their antlers along the bark and damaging the structure of the tree. It also prevents them from peeling off any of the bark from younger trees and eating it, which often leaves the tree susceptible to disease.
The second way to use these wraps is by placing smaller shrubs, flowers, and bulbs in hard piping. These tubes encircle the delicate plants, making it much more difficult for deer to uproot them. This technique is especially helpful when dealing with young vegetation that is still very delicate.
Use Fishing Line as Alternative Barrier
If you have no intention of going through all the trouble of setting up an entire fence, using a barricade of fishing line is another option. It’s also the perfect solution for those who want to keep deer out of their flower beds without the sacrifice of losing the visual appeal behind tall borders. Deer are unable to see the barrier, which confuses them and urges them to go elsewhere for food.
To set up this deer guard, two anchor points are necessary to attach it to. Installing pipes or rods in the corners of your garden is ideal.
Next, pull the fishing line tight across and tie them in place on the poles. Set it approximately two or three feet up off the ground, so the deer don’t just step over them.
How to Keep Deer From Eating Plants
A surprising ally to shoo deer away is Irish Spring soap. For whatever reason, mammals like rabbits, mice, and deer cannot stand to be around the contents of this soap bar. Lucky for you, it makes for an easy repellent that requires minimal prep work to set up.
First, cut the soap bar up into small cubes using a knife. The cubes should be approximately ½ of an inch, then placed in small pouches like those used for potpourri.
Make several bags to place around your garden strategically. Attach these to wooden posts, garden poles, or lay them under groundcover plants where they are out of the way.
Take Your Dog Outside
One common suggestion to keep deer away involves using blood meal as a deterrent. The smell of blood naturally alerts deer of danger, tricking them into thinking there is a predator nearby. One of the drawbacks to this solution is that it often attracts other predators to your yard, including neighborhood dogs.
An alternate solution that accomplishes a similar effect is to take your dog outside. The more time your dog spends outdoors, the more their scent accrues in areas where the deer may wander. Even urine from your pet is sometimes enough to signal the deer that this is not a safe location to stay for long.
Scare Deer Away with Sounds
Another easy way to scare off deer is by appealing to their sense of sound. While there are plenty of motion-activated devices available at your local lawn and garden store, and even simpler option is to use wind chimes. Not only do they provide the necessary sound disruption, but they are also beautiful to listen to and aesthetically appealing.
Even on a non-windy day, these are great additions to trees deer use as rubbing posts. The deer leans up against the tree to scratch their hide, which causes the tree to shake and sets off the wind chimes. This startles the deer and sends them packing.
Use Other Scare Tactics to Deter Deer
Deer tend to avoid humans for obvious reasons. As a result, adding scarecrows to confuse these critters into thinking someone is in the garden works wonders for preserving your vegetation.
Making your very own makeshift person is relatively simple and requires no more than some hay, wood, and old clothing. Propping up the scarecrow is imperative to its success since seeing it from a far enough distance means deer are less likely to enter the property in the first place.
It’ll also make the figure much more convincing from a further vantage point, considering most deer won’t be curious enough to come up for a closer look. To really seal the deal, attach a motion sensor that triggers light, sound, or even motion.
Use Sprinklers to Spook Deer
Again, utilizing the basic instincts a creature has to flee when other animals are near works wonders when it comes to keeping your yard deer-free. Something as simple as your sprinkler system provides an added benefit in this regard. The motion is enough to ward off curious critters who approach your garden without causing any damage to the wildlife or plants.
While most sprinkler systems operate on a timer, others are also motion-sensitive. When hungry creatures approach too close to your flower beds, the sprinklers switch on and douse the deer in a soft spray of water.
How to Keep Deer Out of Your Garden
Another option available to homeowners is an electronic deer repellent. Websites like Havahart suggest using this method either on its own or in conjunction with other motion-activated devices like sprinklers. The system requires minimal adjustment to the landscape, leaving it as close to your original design as possible.
Install the post somewhere deer reach effortlessly. The post already smells enticing to these unsuspecting creatures and draws them closer to the station. Once they reach the post, the deer receives a mild, painless shock that startles them enough to send them running.
Add Hair Clippings to Gardens
One odd but effective way to keep deer out of your vegetable gardens and flower beds is to leave hair clippings scattered across the soil. The slightest scent of people nearby is enough to spook most animals, especially deer who are skittish by nature.
Placing a few spare strands of human hair in your garden gives off the aroma of someone being nearby without having to stand guard 24/7. This approach requires several handfuls, all of which can be obtained from your local barbershop or salon if you haven’t gone for trim yourself in a while.
Sprinkle the tufts of hair all across the yard to circulate the scent. Alternately, stuffing a couple of handfuls into a sock and hanging them from trees also assists in keeping deer off your property.
By now, you should have several new ideas for how to keep deer from eating plants on your property. In many cases, success depends on the deer and its preferences, so don’t be discouraged if the first tactic you try doesn’t work right away.
Use trial and error with these ideas until you find the best plan of attack for your deer problems. Combine strategies and change them up on occasion, too, so the deer don’t eventually wise up to your tricks and return.
If you found these deer-repellent tips helpful, then please remember to share everything you learned about how to keep deer out of your garden with friends and family on Facebook and Pinterest.