- Spray bottle
- One cup of milk
- One egg
- One tablespoon of dish soap
- Hot peppers (optional)
Knowing how to keep deer out of your garden can be challenging, especially since they can adapt their behavior based on the deterrent method you use. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t solutions that can deter them from coming back to your garden or lawn.
We’ll help you identify signs that signal a deer problem and offer 17 ways to get rid of these animals, including completely humane and harmless ways to keep deer from damaging your plants.
Since deer prefer to feed early in the morning and late at night, times when we’re usually sleeping, you may have a difficult time determining if they’re actually responsible for causing damage to your garden. Check for these signs to confirm that a deer is the one wreaking havoc on your foliage.
After confirming that deer are responsible for damage to your garden and lawn, take a look at the following deterrent methods. Since each deer herd eats differently, patience and experimentation may be required when determining which method works best.
Deer tend to seek out plants rich in protein that are smooth, tender, and flavorful. Because of this, it’s a good idea to stay away from fruit trees, lettuce, beans, peas, hostas, impatiens, and pansies. Instead, choose deer-resistant plants that have one or more of these four qualities:
If you don’t want to get rid of your existing plants and vegetables, consider fencing individual plants with a layer of deer netting or chicken wire to prevent deer from eating them.
Deer don’t like the feeling of fuzzy textures on their tongues. You can determine if a plant is fuzzy by rubbing the foliage between your fingers. If you feel small hairs on the leaves, the plant is probably a safe choice for your deer-proof garden. Opt for plants like barberries, fuzzy lamb’s ear, cleome, yarrow, or poppies.
Similar to fuzzy foliage, deer tend to stay away from thorny and prickly plants. Though some deer learn to eat around thorns, they generally avoid plants with spines on the leaves. Consider thorny rose bushes, globe thistle, and sea hollies.
Plants with strong aromas confuse a deer’s olfactory system and discourage feeding, making them a perfect way to keep deer out of your garden. Plant garlic, chives, mint, marigolds, and lavender, or flowering herbs like sage, thyme, and oregano. You could also try including catmint, dill, and bee balm in your garden.
Leathery or fibrous foliage
Deer typically avoid plants with leaves that are tough to digest. Irises, peonies, and some viburnums are great leathery choices to keep deer out of your garden.
For more deer-resistant plants, check out this extensive Rutgers list of landscape plants rated according to their resistance to deer damage.
Now that you know how to keep deer out of your garden with deer-resistant plants, your second line of defense should be investing in physical barriers. Any fence or barrier should be at least eight feet tall since deer can clear anything shorter than this. We recommend the following physical barriers to keep deer out of your garden.
There are a variety of commercial repellents and deterrents on the market, but their effectiveness is based on how frequently they’re used. At minimum, you should apply deer repellents weekly for them to have any effect. Here are some additional tips on how to keep deer out of your garden with deer repellents:
Most deer repellents can be bought from a garden store or hardware department. Follow all directions carefully and use caution when applying repellents to vegetables and herbs that you’ll eat—you don’t want to make your garden inedible.
If you want to learn how to keep deer out of your garden without chemicals, consider making a natural, homemade deer repellent spray.
This is not harmful to plants and it keeps other garden pests aside from deer out of your garden.
If you want to know how to keep deer out of your garden without putting in too much work, employ a few scare tactics. By simulating unexpected sights and sounds, you’ll trigger a deer’s main defense against prey and keep them out of your garden. Here are a few scare tactics worth trying:
Remember: Deer are quick learners and can adapt their behavior based on the type of deer repellent you use. Change products and strategies every so often if you find that one stops working—this will keep deer off balance and out of your garden.
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