How to Keep Deer out of the Garden

Deer are beautiful creatures in nature and I love watching them.  They are very relaxing to observe.  They are as long as they are not eating your garden or plants in your yard.  That is somewhere I do not want to see deer.  I don’t know about you but I was going crazy on how to keep deer out of the garden for a long time.  After all not only do they eat those plants and veggies but they also trample other plants when they are getting too them.  This is not a good thing.

Like many animals deer are intelligent and very adaptive.  Something that might work to rid your yard of deer today may not work tomorrow.  So let me start by giving you a few tips on what have worked for me and others in the past.  I will also give you some pros and cons of each of the different methods.

Plants

If you plant some marigolds, astilbe (false goats beard), nepeta or catmint, or morning glory around the perimeter of your yard or garden, deer may avoid the area.  They are  not fond of any of them.  This may work for some people.  The deer might just go over some of the lower plants because they see what is on the other side of the barrier.

Deer typically eat from the top down on plants.  They want to get to the nice tender new shoots as they come out.  So if you have small trees planting smaller shrubs may not do that much to keep the deer away.  The great thing is that it can add some beauty to the perimeter of your yard or garden.

If you have azaleas, different lily varieties, tulips, maple, apples, and cherry trees you may actually be inviting deer into your space.  They love these plants.  So if you can do without them then you might not want to start planting them.  Now if you already have them, then you might want to use an alternative method of keeping them away.

Scent Repellents

Deer have a strong sense of smell and are easily influence by it.  If there is a strong scent on a plant they will be put off and move on.  A few great things that I found work are:

  • Mix 2 raw eggs to one gallon of water.  Then spray the mixture on the plants you want them to stay away from.  As the mixture dries it gives the leaves a slightly sulfuric smell (smell of rotten eggs).  This will help keep your plants safe from deer as well as some other animals.
  • Another mixture you can do is fill your blender with hot peppers, the hotter the better.  Top the peppers with water and blend away.  Let it settle out overnight and strain the liquid off. Spray the liquid on your plants you want to keep the animals away from. Peppers like cayenne and chili powder have a strong scent and can cause the animals to stay away.
  • Commercial repellents can be used as well.  They mostly work on scent. They can be spread on the yard or sprayed on the plants depending on which one you are looking at.
  • Another easy thing to do is buy some scented soaps like Irish Spring and either make a solution with it, or just shavings around the area you want to keep the deer away from.
  • Finally you an use any perfume.  Just spray the plants with perfume.  It is strong and lets the animals know that it is not an open buffet.

The trouble with any of these methods is you need to continually re-apply them to be most effective, especially if it rains.  The good news is that these are, for the most part, environmentally friendly.  The bad part is you need to stay on top of it to keep the deer away.  Also a I mentioned above, it is important to make sure you start at the top of the plant and work your way down.

Many of these methods also work for cats, dogs, and skunks.

Deer Fences

Another option is deer fencing.  Putting up a little fence is generally not going to work.  You need a tall fence, 6-7 feet tall to keep deer out.  As I mentioned before deer are smart animals and if they see an opportunity for an easy snack they will probe the fence for week points.  Make sure you put in the fence spikes to hold it down.

While deer are not known for digging under fences, other animals like raccoons, rabbits, and opossums do!  So it might be a good idea to put some chicken wire 6-8 inches deep into the ground at the same place your fencing is.  I say do it right the first time so you don’t have to do it again.

There are other options that are more attractive then most deer fences.  They can be quite beautiful in fact.  Think about the out of sight out of mind theory.  If they cant see the garden they may not enter the garden.  That being said most of the larger fences require a contractor to come and build them.  So I am not going to focus on that part in this article.

A great inexpensive way is to put bird netting over the plants.  You might lose some to the deer eating the ends of the plants but it keeps your fruit and veggies safe.  Deer don’t have the greatest sight so if you have a small clear or plant colored bird netting covering it when they hit the netting is surprises them and they tend to leave it alone.  This of course also works for birds as well.

That brings me to another thing that seems to work fairly well.  What you do is put tall stakes 6-7 fee tall around your garden ever two feet.  Then string mono-filament fishing line every foot from the top down.  Make sure it is tight though.  The deer cant really see it and when they bump into it, it confuses them and they leave the area.

All of these methods are mostly easy to implement and most will last a long time.  Some of them are not as attractive as others.  Some of them are also expensive.  Really you need to find what works well for you.

Motion Sensor Lights

Many animals, including deer, don’t like to do a lot of things in the middle of the day.  They tend to hide in cool places and rest when the sun is high and become active right before sun rise or around dusk. They might even be more active at night.  That being said a good way to keep these evening meals to a minimum is to set up motion sensor lights.  These can work great because animals typically will be stunned when the light flashes on and then they run away.

If the lights also make a noise it can be helpful as well.  This works really well if the noises change al the time so the animals don’t associate the sound without a threat.  This is what I mean that you need to change things up or they will adapt to the situation and simply ignore the barrier you set up.

Ultrasonic Motion Sensors

These are great for when you want to scare the deer away from your yard and you don’t want it to bother you.  You wont even realize when these are going off.  When you look at ultrasonic motion sensors you want to make sure they use different sound patterns.  This makes sure that the animals don’t get used to the sound and begin to ignore it.

One of the greatest things about these is that they work on a plethora of animals.  Again you need to be careful so the animals wont start ignoring them, but it is very effective.  You may need to place a few of these in your protected area to get a full coverage of the yard or garden.

Motion Sensor Sprinklers

Motion sensor sprinklers also can work wonders on deer.  Not only do they make a noise that startles the animal, it also gives them a quick spray of water.  I cannot think of any animal that likes an unexpected splash of water.  They also will not get used to it that easily.

You may need to set several of these up to completely cover the are to keep animals out.  You can set it for large or small animals (both).  You can adjust them on how far you want to spray.  One disadvantage is that it might add unnecessary water to your garden.

These can work well as a backup system with ultrasonic motion sensors as well.

Other Animals

If you own a dog this will help keep deer out of the garden or yard.  Yep, man’s best friend and guard, the dog can help. Most dogs will bark at a deer and they will simply run off.  That being said you don’t want your dog to actually attack the deer.  The dog WILL lose the fight.   So just make sure the dog will bark and maybe chase the animal away, but never actually fight it.

Conclusions

Well if you are still with me, thanks for sticking around for so long.  I have rambled on about some ways to keep deer out of the garden or yard.  They are beautiful creatures but they can be very destructive to your yard.  I love animals and do not want to hurt them, but I also don’t want animals in my garden.  I heard some terrible ideas about people who put up electric fences and put peanut butter on the wire so the deer would lick the wire and receive a shock.  Not cool!

So think about what will work for you.  Let me know what you tried and what worked for you.  I am looking forward to your comments below!

4 thoughts on “How to Keep Deer out of the Garden

  1. Angel

    Hi, Mark cute your video and very interesting information about keeping the deer out of the garden .I really love animals and I love to see them around, but in the forest ,but of course should be very frustrating for some people having them in their houses all the time.

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Angel,

      Thanks for the comment ,and I hope it was helpful for you.

      Let me know if I can help you in any other way.

      Marc

      Reply
  2. Candida

    You have some very good ideas on how to keep deer out of a garden. We plant a garden every year and we normally put up an electric fence (NO PEANUT BUTTER THOUGH) but we don t have as much trouble with deer as we do turtles and a electric fence does not keep turtles out. I don’t like the electric fence but my husband is the one who does that. I like the idea of just a fence with the chicken wire and that would probably keep out the turtles also. Thank you for these good ideas I will have to mention them to my husband.

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Candida,

      Thanks for the comment. Yes the Chicken wire thing would work as well for the turtles. In fact take a look at my post on rabbits. If you construct the chicken wire fence like that it should keep them out. Some turtles can and will dig so if you construct the fencing right it will keep them out, otherwise they will just go under it.

      Let me know if you have success.

      Marc

      Reply

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