Deer are gorgeous animals, but they can wreak havoc in your garden by munching away at everything from herbs to vegetables. There are multiple strategies for keeping deer away, but the most effective would be installing a fence around your plot.
Motion-activated devices that spray water, emit sound or flash lights may also help dissuade deer. Unfortunately, however, these can be costly and must be refreshed often to remain effective.
Deer are common visitors in rural and suburban gardens alike. Attracted to plants with large leaves or soft, sweet scents, deer may also be fooled into coming closer if there are similar-looking but different-smelling varieties such as garlic, onions or chives growing nearby. By including plants that deer don’t like in your yard you can keep these pests at bay from your vegetables and flowers.
Fencing can be one of the best methods of keeping deer out of your garden. It can block their view of food sources while acting as an intimidating barrier; just be sure it is tall enough, since deer are skilled jumpers that may clear 8-foot fences depending on species in your region. Wire mesh fencing like that from Vexar or Tubex is more effective than plastic options.
Create a deer-proof barrier by planting fragrant aromatic plants such as lavender, mint, thyme, oregano and rosemary throughout your garden. Deer are easily deterred by such strong-scented blooms; when possible they’ll avoid them just like they’d avoid lamb’s ears and cacti which have unfavorable textures that they find unpleasant.
Spraying an unappetizing scent can also help discourage deer from eating your crops. Garden hobbyist Mary R. created her own homemade deterrent spray that she keeps in a gallon jug and sprays onto vegetables, flowers and shrubbery containing 1 cup of milk, 1 egg and a tablespoon of soap; she stirs this thoroughly before leaving it out in direct sunlight to release its aroma.
Finally, motion activated devices can help deter deer from coming near your yard. These gadgets use sounds, movement and bright lighting to deter them. Some can even shoot water or air to disorient and startle them away. While such devices may be effective at keeping deer at bay from gardens, their cost and maintenance needs require much work on your part – for the best results combine these strategies with others as part of a comprehensive strategy to protect gardens against these creatures.
Plants Deer Dislike
Deer are grazers that follow set routes throughout their day, feeding on whatever lies in their path. To protect your garden from them, plant plants they find unpalatable or unpleasant – such as those emitting pungent scents or bitter flavors, leathery textures or strong scents like those found in herbs such as chives. Onions, garlic, mint and parsley also work effectively against deer raids.
Repellant plants for deer include those with toxic leaves or flowers, such as ferns, Japanese hollyhock and false indigo (Baptisia). Ferns such as Reed Phlox, Japanese Hollyhock and False Indigo (Baptisia) contain compounds toxic to deer; perennials like Helleborus, Monkshood (Aconitum), Spurges Euphorbia Bleeding Hearts Lamprocapnos/Dicentra and Daffodils Narcissus also possess toxic foliage. Deer aren’t fond of bitter tasting dark leafy vegetables such as Kale. Cruciferous plants like broccoli and cauliflower aren’t appreciated either!
Deer-resistant vegetable gardens may also include plants with hairy foliage to confuse deer’s sense of touch and aid feeding process. Such plants include foxglove, prickly pear, and yarrow; while boxwoods, hemlocks, roses, tulips, or geraniums serve as attractive borders around vegetable crops.
Heavily fragrant plants will confuse Bambi’s sense of smell and deter her from feeding, including sage, rosemary and lavender as well as flowering herb plants such as nepeta, hyssop, Artemisia and tansy. Heucherella, bee balm and lilyturf shrubs may also prove effective.
Plastic netting and chicken wire can be effective physical barriers against deer accessing your vegetables, while floating row covers may help protect shorter-growing crops like lettuce and bush beans from predatory deer. Reapply these covers as needed due to high winds; for maximum effectiveness place these covers over barriers with wind breaks such as small trees or rocks.
Have you invested months of hard work into cultivating your garden, only for it to be destroyed by hungry deer searching for an easy meal? While there may be expensive products on store shelves claiming to repel deer, simpler solutions exist that won’t cost anything like soap bars placed strategically throughout your garden – deer are naturally drawn away by its strong scent! One effective method involves strategically placing them near areas you want protected – they are typically repulsed by its strong aroma which turns them away quickly.
Deer are adept jumpers, so physical barriers are the best solution. Fences should be at least 8 feet tall without gaps. Plastic netting or chicken wire covers placed over plants during peak feeding times from autumn through early spring may also work effectively as deterrents; they can either be attached to existing fences or used as individual plant protectors.
Another option is to plant your garden with deer-resistant plants. Deer are known to avoid several plant varieties, including marigolds which emit an unpleasant odor; cleome or asparagus ferns which feel awkward for them to chew; and lavender which has an appealing fragrance deer don’t appreciate. These deer-repellant options can help make the area less inviting to deer while giving you a beautiful landscape!
Motion-activated devices that spray water or emit high-frequency noise may also help keep deer away from your garden, though such measures will only work temporarily as deer will quickly learn if these noises or sprays pose a threat and return to their usual foraging patterns.
Another solution is hanging strips of aluminum foil or silver-colored paper in your yard and garden to create flashes of light that can deter deer. Some have had success hanging old CDs from tree branches and fishing line near their garden to deter deer, while strings of old, shiny aluminum pie tins that move with wind have also proven successful at discouraging deer from coming.
If you’ve exhausted all other repellents, including homemade sprays and tallow soap bars, and the deer still keep coming back for more, it may be time to try something more dramatic. Deer tend to favor open landscape areas, such as forest edges and meadows, where they can forage during the day and evening and rest in the woods at night. If you’d like to protect your garden and fruit trees from deer, consider building a physical barrier. Fences are the best choice, but if you don’t have the space for a traditional fence, consider plastic netting or chicken wire to cover your crops. Covers work well for short crops, such as lettuce, squash and bush beans, and can be anchored in place so high winds don’t displace them.
Deer use scent as much as sight when deciding what to eat, so fragrant plants can help keep them away. Also, they often avoid plants with rough or fuzzy textures, as these are difficult to chew. Plants that are particularly unappetizing to deer include lavender, rosemary, oregano, thyme, catmint, and cleome. Try adding a border of these plants around your garden.
Another popular deer-repelling technique is to hang fabric softener strips or bar soap in the garden. These can jar a deer’s nose, confuse it and compel it to steer clear. Other homemade repellents include garlic and rotten egg mixtures, tallow-based soap, bags of human hair or blood meal, and ammonia-soaked rags.
A barking dog can also frighten deer, but it will only work if the animal has free range in your yard or is on a tether that prevents it from constantly barking at the deer. Non-stop barking may irritate the herd and cause them to abandon your yard altogether, seeking food elsewhere.
Commercial deer-repelling solutions are available as sprays, pellets or granules that can be applied directly to crops or used as barriers around the garden. Many contain multiple noxious chemicals and can be used season after season, but they’re not always effective. If you’d like to try a commercial product, be sure to read the label and follow all instructions.