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.

Keeping Deer Out of Your Garden, Doe in Suburban Garden
Filter: All Articles Sort: Relevance

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

CommentMoreRead More...Was this helpful?Helpful? Yes


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 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

CommentMoreRead More...Was this helpful?Helpful? Yes

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.

CommentMoreRead More...Was this helpful?Helpful? Yes

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

AnswerWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

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.

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Read More Answers...

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.

CommentMoreRead More...Was this helpful?Helpful? Yes

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

AnswerWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

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.

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Read More Answers...

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!


AnswerWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

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.

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Read More Answers...

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

Human Hair

I've heard that if you put human hair around your plants that the deer will stay away. I guess they think that a person is there because they smell the human scent on the hair. My friend does this and it keeps out the deer.

By luv2craft

Egg Water Solution

Mix a solution of 1 egg to 4 litres of water. Spray on the plants. Needs to be reapplied after each rain. Deer do not like the smell of the proteins in the eggs. A simple and cheap way of controlling the deer. (We did this for years until last year when we put up a 8' fence).

By valleyrimgirl

Marigolds Or Electric Fencing

I recently read if you plant marigolds all around your garden, deer (along with other critters) can't stand the smell. My sister and family, keep the critters out of their garden with a couple strands of electric fencing around their garden. It's the best that's worked for them. Best of luck on your garden!

By badwater

Fishing Line

Put a few short posts, about 2 to 3 foot, at corners and string nylon fish line from post to post, they cannot see it and will not want to go through it. You may need to put 2 rows a couple of feet apart around the garden.

By Anna from Maine

Fishing Line Or Jalapenos

I've read to string a row of fishing line around the plants and then to string one lower down around the plants. The deer will learn not to go to your house because they can't see what is stopping them from their treats. I don't know if this works or not-just read it recently. If it doesn't work, try buying a big jar of jalapeno peppers and grind them up in the blender or food processor with the juice. Spread it all around the plants. It won't hurt any plants and it keeps the cats away from us. They don't like the smell and don't get close enough for it to harm them. Perhaps it will work with deer also.

Jeane in Texas

Dogs Or Irish Spring Soap

Dogs work real well to keep deer out of your yard, but if you don't have one, try shaving Irish Spring soap around your plants. My SIL used this and they stayed away, but you do have to replace the shavings occassionally.

CommentMoreRead More...Was this helpful?Helpful? Yes

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

By Linda L.

AnswerWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

This may sound rather gross to some people, but my friend says it works well. Have your husband (or any adult male) pee around the perimeter of your yard. Apparently there is something in the male pheromone smell that the deer will avoid.

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Read More Answers...

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.

CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

It's that time of year again when rabbits and deer are looking for some succulent plants to chew on. We have plenty of them in our neighborhood and their favorite foods are tulips, lilies, and hostas. I discovered the best repellent that actually works!

CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

To keep these pesky critters out of your garden use liquid fence from your garden center.

Keep Deer Out With Liquid Fence

CommentMoreRead More...Was this helpful?Helpful? Yes

I heard that you could use Dawn on plants outside so deer would not eat them. How much should I use?

By Marion

AnswerWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

I know the recipe for a bug repellent is 1 tsp dawn per spray bottle full of water, but I do not know if this would work on deer. I have heard that Ivory bar soap and Irish Spring bar soap hung in a piece of hose and staked out around the garden or from a tree, keeps them away.You have to mist it every once in a while, if they get dried out.



ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

When putting a cage around a new plant or tree (to keep out deer), overlap the cage and tie it with straps. You can then expand cage as the plant grows without making new cage. Also insert PVC pipe through slots of cage for easy watering direct to the roots.

CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

I like to use this recipe to help deter deer from eating my plants.

This makes 1 gallon of spray.

Beat 1 egg in 1 cup of water and sieve to get out white strings or clumps. Add to a gallon jug, add

  • 1 Tablespoon of regular dish soap,
  • 1 Tablespoon of cooking oil,
  • 1/2 C milk

Fill jug partially with water, shake to mix, finish filling gallon jug with water.

I keep this in an extra refrigerator, it can get smelly, but that helps deter the deer and rabbits. Mark your bottle - deer repellent, so no one drinks it. Fill your spray bottle and spray your trees, lilacs, and plants. Don't spray on anything you want to eat, but I do spray my peas and beans before they start to blossom. Spray after every heavy rainfall.

I find after doing it 3-4 times the deer get the hint and quit coming. If you have a problem with deer eating young plants and trees, begin spraying early in the spring, before damage begins. But spray it during the day, so it has a chance to dry on the plant before it would freeze.

By Marcia from New Auburn, WI


How To Keep Deer and Rabbits From Eating Your Plants

Another trick is to put fishing line around the garden/flower beds. It works for deer. But I don't know about rabbits as they don't come near my dogs. (07/31/2007)

By Jenns4x4pu

How To Keep Deer and Rabbits From Eating Your Plants

An easier thing to do is just hang bars of Ivory soap around garden, I don't know why it works but does. (07/31/2007)

By Dawn

CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Home and Garden Pest Control DeerAugust 5, 2011
More to Explore
ThriftyFun on Facebook
ThriftyFun on Pinterest
Enter a Contest
Free Newsletters
Ask a Question
Share a Post
Related Guides
Liquid Fence Deer and Rabbit Repellent
Liquid Fence Deer and Rabbit Repellent Review
yellow fly or deer fly
Getting Rid of Deer Flies (Yellow Flies)
Fawn (Baby Deer) standing in the grass.
Fawn (Baby Deer) Information and Photos
Deer in Garden
Deer Resistant Plants
© 1997-2016 by Cumuli, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Published by . Page generated on May 26, 2016 at 5:00:07 PM on in 873 msecs. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of ThriftyFun's Disclaimer and Privacy Policy. If you have any problems or suggestions feel free to Contact Us.
To Top
Loading Something Awesome!