When first-time homeowners and gardeners see deer in their yards, they may get overjoyed. Yet, when the deer have made their way through their yard, those homeowners may discover their fruit trees chewed to nubs and their garden destroyed.
Deer can quickly destroy beautiful trees, bushes, and fruit trees. These animals also destroy food gardens. Ticks that spread Lyme disease, a debilitating condition that affects both humans and pets, can be carried by deer. Try these 22 deer-repelling tips to keep deer out of your garden.
Deer are at one of their most hungry states in the spring: Does are feeding their fawns, and all deer are looking for high-protein, moisture-rich vegetation to help them regain weight lost during the winter’s cold. Consider growing a lot of English ivy, lettuces, beans, peas, hostas, impatients, and pansies. Fruit trees are also popular targets.
That way, you can keep track on the plant’s progress at all times and avoid it becoming a meal. Deer, in general, like smooth, soft, and tasty foods, such as chrysanthemum, clematis, roses, azalea bushes, and various berries. Grow aromatic plants to help deer avoid your yard.
With wildlife biologists estimating 18 to 24 deer per square mile and full-grown adults eating 6 to 10 pounds of vegetation every day, the greatest line of defense is to make your property less appealing than your neighbors’. Deer rely significantly on their sense of smell to feed, so planting patches of highly scented herbs, such as garlic and chives, mint, and lavender (left), might conceal the enticing aroma of neighboring annuals.
When a deer is considering what to eat for dinner, the sense of scent takes precedence over touch. But it doesn’t mean deer aren’t troubled by particular textures in the middle of their meal. Include fuzzy lamb’s ear, barberries, and cleome near the plants you wish to protect, as well as where deer might find their way into your garden in the first place. For a more extensive list, see Plants Deer Avoid.
Switching tulips for daffodils, which are often at the top of deer-resistant plant lists. Choose roses that are very thorny, such as Scotch or rugosa roses.
Grow large, sprawling deer repellant species around the perimeter of your garden, such as dense hedges of boxwoods or short needle spruces. Deer are less likely to venture into your property if they can’t see what’s inside.
Cut tall grasses to keep deer from bedding. Fruits should be picked when they are ripe, and crops should be discarded immediately after harvesting.
Deer are not avid climbers, building terraces or sunken beds can deter them from entering the yard. If your property is exceptionally wooded and vast, consider placing pallets around it to make deer frightened to walk or jump on them.
Deer, like neophobes, are afraid of new and strange objects. Though not usually appealing, scarecrows, sundials, and other garden ornaments, particularly ones with moveable elements, make deer nervous. To discourage deer out of your yard, combine them with wind chimes or flashing lights.
A fence is the most efficient form of exclusion. Whitetail deer, which cause havoc on most suburban gardens, are good jumpers. Fences should be at least 8 feet tall with no more than 6-inch by 6-inch gaps. Electric fences are another alternative that can be installed during the peak feeding seasons of early spring and late fall.
Some gardeners say that hanging fabric softener strips and/or wrapped bars of soap from trees can confuse a deer’s sense of scent. Others suggest spraying hot peppers, garlic and rotten eggs, ammonia-soaked rags, and bags of hair and/or blood meal about the garden for the same reason. The trick, as with commercial repellents, is to alter things around and learn by trial and error for maximum efficiency. To keep deer guessing, use a variety of homemade repellents.
Plant blocking combines the previous two points to keep deer away from your plants: Plant deer-friendly flowers or vegetables in large quantities, then surround them with deer-resistant vegetation.
To discourage deer from eating your Hostas, for example, cover them with ferns (which most deer dislike). Make sure the border plants are close enough together to form a hedge and large enough that deer cannot reach over them.
Unless they are extremely hungry, deer will frequently move on to pursue more easily accessible edibles.
You don’t want to accidently harm your family or other wildlife by using commercial repellents or homemade formulas. Always use compassionate recipes rather than poisons.
String a line of monofilament around your beds within the deer feeding zone—ideally two to three feet above ground—as an alternative to erecting a fence. Deer can’t understand the concept of glass, and this transparent, taut barrier confuses them, prompting them to flee.
A dog as a pet is very effective in deer management. Their fragrance and bark, regardless of size, are natural deer repellents, so bring the dog along when you’re gardening or playing in the yard.
Sensor-activated sprinklers will spray mist on passing deer. Deer flee towards the woods as a result of the abrupt sound and dampness.
Deer dislike bright lights, they will frequently wait until dusk to eat. A set of motion-sensitive floodlights will physically stop a deer in its tracks, albeit they will eventually discover that the beam is harmless.
Deer dislike loud bangs and booms. You could light off firecrackers or make a wind chime out of tin cans, but tuning a radio to the static in between channels might be your best bet.
Another method is to mass plant the plants that deer enjoy eating. This will not prevent deer from browsing them, but it will allow you to have some blooms remaining once they are through.
Instead of growing only one Hydrangea (which would be devoured), cultivate several of the same Hydrangea in one location. The deer will eat the plants on the edges of the group but will rarely go out of their way to consume the ones in the center.
Plant tall and wide bushes and shrubs along the inside of a shorter fence to dissuade deer from jumping over it. The deer will not attempt the jump if they cannot perceive a clear landing location.
It also increases the width over which they must jump, so it’s similar to having a double barrier without having to build a second fence. The bushes do not have to be planted in a straight line or of the same type.
Because they give all-year coverage, evergreens and other plants that keep their shape in the winter are very excellent for a deer resistant garden.
Create a rock garden around the perimeter of your yard to deter deer from your flower beds. (You’ll see this tactic used to keep animals in their enclosures at many modern zoos.)
Deer prefer rocky places, so encircling your garden with a large rock garden can help keep them away. Vary the size of the rocks to make this work best. That way, the deer won’t be able to wander across too much flat ground.
You might also combine a rock garden with a barrier to prevent deer from landing in an outdoor area.
Deer are similar to people. What deters one individual may not always repel another, but doubling—or tripling—up on these methods can only help. Using a handful of these tips before deer become a problem is the best approach to protect your vegetation. Nonetheless, consider each of your options before moving, as some are more expensive than others.