Updated Mar 17, 2023
Updated Mar 17, 2023
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
More Lawn Resources
Get the best of House Method in your inbox