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Keeping Deer Out of Your Garden

Many people love to see deer visit near their home, unless they are trying to grow a garden. Deer will eat through all of your harvest before you know it. This is a guide to keeping deer out of your garden.

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Keeping Deer Out of Your Garden, Doe in Suburban Garden
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May 11, 2011 Flag
10 found this helpful

I've tried everything I've ever heard of to keep deer away from my plants. I finally found the only solution. Here's the recipe:

Whip up a raw egg and a cup of water in the blender. Pour that into a pistol grip one-quart spray bottle. Fill to the top with water, adding 1 tsp. dish soap. Set in the hot sun till putrified (about 3 days), and give a little squirt to those plants they love to eat. It doesn't take much either, just a small squirt. They absolutely hate it. But you must reapply after a rain. However, you will see your plants grow to fruition.

Source: I read some of the ingredients on a $17 bottle of deterrent at a hardware store and recognized albumen as referring to egg,so I invented my own $.10 version. The soap helps it stick to the plants.

By Anne from Green Bay, WI

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July 20, 2010 Flag

Fencing:

The fence provides perhaps the best physical means of protection against deer damage. To keep deer out, the fence must be at least 8 feet tall. Deer can usually easily jump any fence less than 8 feet if they need to. Deer have been known to tunnel under loosely constructed fences, so make sure that the bottom of the fence is slightly sunk into the ground. Electric fences also provide an effective alternative. They are not as costly as other physical, barrier fences, but they do require periodic maintenance and may need to be replaced more frequently.

Some people have used wire mesh, laid down on the ground in the garden. It seems in some cases that the deer don't like walking on it, and don't like possibly getting their legs tangled in it.

Repellents:

Repellents that are based on odors that deer don't like are the most common. Deer find them either unpleasant or disturbing because they resemble the scent of a predator or danger. Odorous repellents are available commercially in garden centers, hardware and farm stores, and through mail order catalogs. (When buying and using commercial repellents, make sure they are labeled for use on the plants you are trying to protect and be especially cautious around vegetables, fruits, and berries.

Repellents can be costly and time consuming to apply and often must be re-applied after rain. Certain repellents depend on specific temperature ranges to be effective and the choice of repellent may change seasonally. The effectiveness of repellents will depend primarily on the current availability of natural food sources, a deer's appetite, stage of development, the weather, and frequency of application. Milorganite, is a deer repellent, as well as an organic lawn and garden fertilizer. Dried blood meal is an agricultural by-product that offers some degree of protection from deer damage. Dried blood meal is also a good organic fertilizer (nitrogen) for plants.

Bars of deodorant soap hung around susceptible plants is usually effective within a range of three to four feet. The bars work best when wet, it is best to leave the wrapper on, to make last as long as possible. Lifebuoy consistently produces the best results. Bars need to be hung 3-4 feet apart around in the garden area. Replace as needed. Human hair, put in small pouches around the garden (like the deodorant soap), 3-4 feet apart may also work. Replace the hair midway through the growing season to prolong their effectiveness.

Homemade Deer Repellent:

  • 6 spoiled eggs
  • 3 Tbsp. of Thiram 75% (a mild fungicide)
  • 1 quart of water

Mix thoroughly, using an old blender if possible. (Do not use the blender canister for anything intended for human or animal consumption). Then add1-3 gallons of water and mix thoroughly. Spray on plants. Repeat as needed, especially after rain. Don't use moth balls; they may seem to do a good job because of the smell, but they are toxic to humans and animals (as well as pets) alike.

Other Deterrents

  • Electronic sound devices.

  • Dog(s).

  • Thorny bushes or trees planted around or in the garden.

  • A plank hung from a tree; when the wind blows and it bangs against the tree, it scares the deer away.

  • Wind chimes in the garden: the noise scares the deer away. (obviously not itty-bitty wind chimes, bring out the big ones.)

  • Leave a radio playing in the garden.

  • Sheets of aluminum foil or mirrors placed around the garden area will frighten deer away.

  • A scarecrow.
Anything that you use, except for the 8 foot tall fence, and possibly the electric fence will have to be rotated or strategies changed periodically; the deer will get used to the noise, the smell will wear off, they will find out that the scarecrow won't hurt them, and here the deer will come to your garden again.

Source: My experiences, research, and books: Outwitting Critters, and Gardening In Deer Country.

By one.of.a.kind from Al

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August 16, 2011 Flag
3 found this helpful

Deer in Suburban GardenLike many wildlife, deer and rabbits have become extremely adaptable to living within human environments. Unfortunately, when searching for food they can quickly lay waste to vegetable and flower gardens. Although physical barriers like walls and fences are the most effective means to keeping them out of your garden, they are not always a practical or affordable solution.

"Scent fences" can be a practical alternative - especially when local deer and rabbit populations have plenty of other places to go in search of food.

Of the dozens of home and commercial remedies routinely tested by gardeners, the following seem to be the most effective:

Cat Litter: Create a scent fence with used cat litter by sprinkling it on the lawn and around ornamentals. Replace weekly or after heavy rains. Used cat litter will also help repel moles and gophers when dumped into active burrows.

Use caution when handling and distributing litter: Cat feces may contain toxoplasmosis parasites, which can infect humans. Do not use litter around edible plants. If you can't stand the thought of digging cat litter into bare soil, put small amounts into the bottoms of coffee cans that have several holes punches in their sides and set them around your garden.

Hair: A lot of gardeners have successfully kept deer and rabbits away by hanging human or dog hair from trees or by spreading it in loose clumps around their landscape. To hang it from trees, use mesh bags with a 1/8 inch or smaller mesh, and place two large handfuls of hair in each bag. Hang the bags at a height of about 4 feet and spaced no more than 3 feet apart.

You can also spread wads of loose hair near the base of vulnerable plants. A scent fence of hair works best if you replace the hair at least once a week. Contact local barbers and groomers - most will be more than happy to help out.

Deodorant Soap: String bars of deodorant soap on wire and hang them on the branches of the trees or shrubs that need protecting. Space them no farther than 3 feet apart and try to hang them at deer-nose level (about 4 feet). Hint: If you leave the bar soap in their packages they will last a bit longer.

For repelling deer and rabbits from individual plants, try scented dryer sheets. Cut them into strips about an inch wide and tie the strips on the plants you want to protect. Deer especially, do not like the smell and tend to stay away.

Rotten Eggs: Another effective scent fence can be made from a rotting egg spray. Yes, it's stinky. Fortunately, the deer and rabbits think so, too. Here is a good recipe:

  1. Mix 3 to 6 rotten eggs (or a quart of sour milk) in 1 gallon of water.
  2. Add a teaspoon of garlic powder and 1 teaspoon of finely ground chili pepper.
  3. Spray around deer and rabbit-prone plants, renewing after it rains or at least once per month.

Many pre-mixed versions of this type of concoction are available at home and garden centers. I highly recommend a brand called Liquid Fence. After just one time of using it on my vulnerable flowers and shrubs, the deer and rabbits have learned to steer clear.

Garlic: No one likes garlic breath, perhaps least of all deer. Recent research has shown that selenium, the component in garlic which gives it its garlic smell, prevents deer from eating tree shoots and seedlings. Give your plants garlic breath by spraying a garlic oil solution on trees and shrubs. (Reapply after it rains). As an alternative, plant time-released garlic capsules (available at health food stores) at the bases of trees or shrubs.

Homemade garlic oil: Soak 6 cloves of minced garlic in 2 tablespoons of mineral oil for 24 hours. Strain out the garlic and add 1 pint of water to the remaining liquid. Mix well and spray plants.

Urine: In the animal kingdom, prey species like deer and rabbits must follow a cardinal rule to survive: avoid predators at all costs. Predatory animals use urine to define their territory. Because the scent of urine is sometimes the only warning prey species have that predators are nearby, when they smell it, they instinctively flee the area.

Bottled urine from predators like coyotes, mountain lions, and wolves can be purchased commercially to create a scent fence around garden plants. If you're so inclined, you can also collect and use your own.

Vinegar: Some gardeners report that vinegar helps repel rabbits. After enjoying a meal of corn on the cob, cut the cobs in half and soak them in a bowl of vinegar for 10 minutes. Then create a scent fence by scattering them throughout your flower or vegetable garden. Store the used vinegar in a labeled bottle and repeat the process every two weeks.

A Fresh Fence is an Effective Fence

As the odor of your scent fence fades, so does its effectiveness. To keep animals away, you need to keep things smelling "fresh". Always test spray-on repellants in a small area before applying to plants.

Plan to reapply your odor repellants after it rains, and after they have spent some time being exposed to the elements. Eventually, the animals may become used to the scent and start to ignore it. If and when this happens, switching to a different type of scent fence can be effective.

May 28, 2008 Flag
0 found this helpful

How can you get rid of deer coming to your garden?

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August 4, 20080 found this helpful

It is now august and the deer have not bothered our garden. It seems to be working.

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August 6, 20080 found this helpful

I have big boulders surrounding our home. I realize I have not had any deer problem while all the other people with gardens in the area do and we live right in the woods and see many deer around so I'm sure the deer are afraid to cross the big rocks but these boulders were there on are land when we built our home.

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October 28, 2009 Flag
1 found this helpful

If you are troubled by deer or rabbits eating plants in your garden, try my foolproof remedy. After a lot of experimenting, I came up with this easy and inexpensive spray.

May 19, 2009 Flag
0 found this helpful

I am having problems with either rabbits or deer eating my Monkey Grass. I have tried a commercial spray that stinks. Does anyone have a "home" remedy?

Hardiness Zone: 7a

By cyhuffman from York, SC

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November 15, 20100 found this helpful

I recently read that using pepper spray, cayenne pepper, or any such substance can be detrimental to a rabbit if one should get it in his or her eyes. I need to rid my garden of rabbits as well but don't wish to cause them pain. I guess I'll try the hair, urine, etc.

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July 4, 20160 found this helpful

Urine

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June 1, 2006 Flag
0 found this helpful
Q: Rabbits and deer are eating my 2005 forestry planted trees and perennials. Research online shows me repellents that use stinky odors and coyote and fox urine. What is the best value in repellents that work?

Hardiness Zone: 7a

Many thanks,
Mille Woodsi from Alto, N.M.

A: Mille,

Sorry to hear about your trees and perennials. If either deer or rabbits are really hungry due to stress from overpopulation or drought, your only defense is a VERY tall fence (at least 8 ft tall for deer) or a fence buried into the ground (at least 6 inches down for rabbits). Because no one method will continue to work forever, an arsenal of inexpensive home remedies is probably your best value. Most gardeners have found home remedies to be at least as effective (if not more effective) than expensive commercial remedies.

As others have noted here, deer detest certain odors. The scent of predators (e.g. human hair, dog hair or fox/coyote urine), and animal proteins (e.g. rotten eggs or bloodmeal) are their two biggest dislikes. There is nothing fancy about animal urine, so if you buy it, buy the most inexpensive product you can find. Some people have also had luck with hanging bars of soap from tree branches or placing soap chips around the base of favored plants. Any strong smelling remedy that repels deer should also work on rabbits. Some gardeners also swear that placing Mason jars 3 feet apart all around their garden repels rabbits. I have no idea why this would work, but anything is worth a try.

Good luck!

Ellen

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June 8, 20060 found this helpful

Forget about Bloodmeal! I put a pretty thick layer on last night and this morning saw a rabbit eating off the tops of my petunias:-( I chased him off and sprinkled cayenne pepper in the garden and put down shavings of soap. We'll see if that works.

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August 1, 20070 found this helpful

I tried a bunch of home recipes and made egg mixes as well as the hair thing with little luck. My dog keeps deer away when she is outside but she is getting old and starting to get slow. I use a blood based repellent I get from my nearby True Value store and have seen the damage to my hostas stop. It's called Repellex and I like it. The downside to the product is it is pretty stinky when applied, but the smell goes away in a day after it dries. It also has a slight red tint from the blood and can be seen on white flowers. The color can't be seen on green plants and the pigment does go away after a week or two also. Give that a try. It seems to work for a long time before I have to reapply it.

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May 31, 2007 Flag
0 found this helpful

Tips for keeping deer out of gardens without fences. Post your own ideas here.

May 20, 2011 Flag
0 found this helpful

How do you keep deer out of your garden? Thanks.

May 15, 2012 Flag
2 found this helpful

A couple of years ago, I had been away from home for a few days to find my garden had been nibbled on by deer. So, I looked high and low for a solution that would not hurt them and maintain my goal to retain my organic gardening.

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