When you think of deer, you likely imagine a graceful Bambi trotting its way through a shadowy forest meadow. This image is mostly accurate; deer are timid creatures that play a vital role in our ecosystem and food chain. They’re relatively harmless – except when it comes to your garden.
These adorable woodland critters will munch their way through your beloved plants in minutes, leaving feeble stumps and stems in their wake. Luckily, there are several ways to keep deer away from your home without harming them. We’ll show you these techniques and more in this guide to deer-proofing your garden.
How To Keep Deer Out of Your Yard and Garden
The following sections will show you how to keep deer damage to a minimum in your outdoor space. We’ll cover everything from deer-resistant plants to homemade deer-proofing concoctions to give you the best chance of saving your lawn and garden from becoming dinner.
Add Deer-resistant Plants
Adding deer-resistant plants to your outdoor area is an excellent way to keep hungry deer from nibbling on your flower beds. Deer are drawn to smooth, tender, nutrient-rich plants like hostas, lettuce, pansies, and impatiens. If you’re planting flowers for increased curb appeal around your home, choose deer-resistant plants instead.
Deer-resistant plants aren’t alluring to deer for several reasons. Some deer-resistant plants have unpleasant odors that discourage the deer from chowing down. Other deer-tolerant varieties have spiky stems or fuzzy foliage that simply isn’t appetizing to the creatures.
Deer-repellent plants naturally deter the critters from your garden with their strong, irritating odors. Deer rely on their sense of smell to decide what to eat, so they stay away from a garden full of stinky, bitter-smelling plants. Therefore, you can plant deer-repellent varieties around your lawn and garden to protect deer-attracting plants.
The table below lists some deer-repellent plants that keep the pests away with their strong, irritating odors and rough, unpleasant textures.
● Bleeding heart
● Lamb’s ear
● Ornamental grasses
● Russian sage
● Angel’s trumpet
● Annual vinca
● Dusty miller plant
● False chamomile
● Flowering tobacco
● Spider flower
● Spotted deadnettle
● Sweet alyssum
● Bishop’s weed
● Lily of the Valley
● Sweet woodruff
Instead of haphazardly placing deer-tolerant plants around your home, we suggest incorporating them into your landscape design. This technique allows you to protect vulnerable plants while simultaneously beautifying your outdoor space.
Invest in Deer Repellent
If adding deer-repelling plants to your garden isn’t doing the trick, consider trying some commercial and DIY repellent products. As we mentioned, deer use their sense of smell to navigate the world. They’re more likely to steer clear of areas with harsh, threatening, or unpleasant smells.
Commercial Deer Repellent
You can purchase most deer repellents at your local garden shop or hardware store. Most products are also available online, which makes for convenient shopping and quick delivery. Remember to read the label before using any animal repellents around your home. You want to ensure chemical-based concoctions are safe to use around your produce, children, and pets.
We recommend the following commercial deer repellents:
- Deer-Off Repellent Stations – Deer-Off stations are small, weatherproof pods filled with 100% dried animal blood powder. The pod’s scent is undetectable to the human nose but incredibly threatening to deer, who interpret the smell as a nearby predator. The smell triggers the critters’ fight or flight responses, causing them to evacuate the area quickly.
- Liquid Fence – This product’s unpleasant odor keeps deer from feasting on your flowers. Liquid Fence contains predator mammal urine, meat proteins, eggs, and garlic, which all smell horrible to deer. The meat and urine convince them predators are nearby, and the eggs and garlic cause discomfort to their sensitive nostrils. The product is safe around your vegetable garden and fruit trees, making it perfect for year-round use. Buy Liquid Fence on Amazon for fast and easy delivery.
- I Must Garden Deer Repellent – This deer repellent spray offers excellent year-round protection against deer damage in an all-natural liquid form. Simply spray the product on and around plants to deter deer with a spicy, minty odor. Best yet, I Must Garden products are safe for use around pets, plants, and pollinators,
- Hinder Deer & Rabbit Repellent – You can use this repellent on vegetables, fruits, flowers, vines, nursery plants, and shrubs. The product contains a mild ammonium soap that smells fine to humans but bitter to deer.
- Bobbex Concentrated Spray – This repellent is the market’s most effective, long-lasting spray. It consists of natural ingredients that repel deer without harsh chemicals. It’s environmentally friendly, using only natural ingredients to stop deer in their tracks.
DIY Deer Deterrents
If you’d rather try your hand at DIY deer repellents, consider making a stinky, spicy homemade concoction.
Mix a few diced hot peppers, 3 tablespoons of minced garlic, and three raw eggs. Add some water and blend the ingredients into a smooth paste. Then, add the mixture to a gallon of water and spray it around your plants.
Some homeowners swear by bath soap as a deer deterrent. To try this technique, use a cheese grater to spread soap shavings around your plants. We suggest using Irish Spring Soap for its strong, overpowering scent deer will surely despise. Replenish the shavings every month or when you notice the soap has melted away.
Employ Scare Tactics
Deer are timid creatures, and sometimes a little shock value is all your garden needs for deer-free flourishing. Before spraying chemicals or stinky homemade mixtures around your garden beds, consider adding a variety of wind chimes to the space.
Wind chimes make noise unexpectedly, which is alarming to deer and will likely cause them to leave. This technique isn’t necessarily a long-term solution to your deer problem; these critters are adaptable and will soon realize the chimes aren’t dangerous. However, this idea could buy your plants some time while you decide on another technique.
If scare tactics are your deer-proofing go-to, consider installing a motion-activated sprinkler system. This one from Havahart senses movement around your yard and releases a startling stream of water to scare away the culprit. The system repels other pesky animals, too, such as rabbits, birds, and dogs that set up camp on your lawn. Even better, you can adjust the settings to use it as an irrigation system for your plants.
Install Physical Barriers
Now that you know how to keep deer out of your garden with deer-resistant plants and repellent products, you can strengthen your line of defense with physical barriers. It’s important to note that deer are incredibly skilled jumpers and can clear regular fences effortlessly. You’ll need a deer fence of at least 7 feet tall to keep them from clearing it.
With that in mind, let’s jump into some deer-proof fencing options for your garden:
- Fishing line – The most affordable deer-proof fencing is a fishing line strung around metal stakes. String fishing line around the posts about 2 to 3 inches from the ground. Repeat this a few more times and work your way up the posts, placing the rows of fishing wire about a foot apart.
- Deer netting – Mesh deer netting is a black plastic or coated wire barrier. Install this material by stretching it tightly across metal posts driven into each corner of your garden or yard. Pull the mesh taut against each post to improve its strength and appearance.
- Electric fencing – Electric fencing is an effective tool for keeping deer out of your garden, but it’s not the most humane choice. Even if you’ve decided to take this deer-proofing route, you must check local zoning laws before installation, as not all municipalities allow electric fences in residential areas. Depending on your type of electric fencing, you’ll likely have to perform routine maintenance to keep the wires free of vines and debris. Additionally, these fences deliver incredibly painful shocks, so you must be cautious about installing them around pets and children.
- Stockade fences – Stockade fencing comes in pre-built, ready-to-install panels of solid wood. These panels completely block a deer’s line of sight, preventing it from seeing what’s on the other side. The animal will stop at the barrier and be less likely to jump across if it can’t see what awaits. For this reason, these fences don’t have to be as tall as other deer-proof fencing options.
- Double fence – A double fence is an extremely effective way to keep deer out of your garden. This method involves putting a fence a few feet inside another to create a small, enclosed space. Deer hate feeling trapped and will likely go back out the way they came. They also have poor depth perception and are unlikely to try scaling both barriers simultaneously. Install a double fence by adding a chicken wire barrier about 5 feet within an existing enclosure. Other affordable fencing options include box wire, wire fence lines, and mesh netting.
We hope these methods help you keep garden visitors at bay. Remember that deer may be timid, but they’re also curious and food driven. You’ll likely need to switch up your deer-proofing methods every couple of months to keep the critters from getting too comfortable.
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