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.
Read and rate the best solutions below by giving them a "thumbs up".
By Anna from Maine
Jeane in Texas
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 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.
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.
Source: My experiences, research, and books: Outwitting Critters, and Gardening In Deer Country.
By one.of.a.kind from Al
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.
Whisk one egg with 1 cup water; pour into a 1 quart pistol grip spray bottle. Add 1 tsp dish soap. Fill rest with water. Set outside in the sun for about 3 days, until it's putrefied. One little squirt does the job. You do not have to over saturate.
I mix up 2 bottles at a time so I always have one in reserve. You must reapply after a rain. Say 'goodbye' to the garden invaders! A lot of friends have tried this and can attest to its effectiveness.
Source: my own recipe
By annelaundrie from Green Bay, WI
A couple of years ago, I had been away from home for a few days to find my garden had been nibbled on. I found out that it was indeed deer that had helped themselves . So, I looked high and low for a solution that would not hurt them and maintain my goal to retain my organic gardening. Well, I found an article that said using Mylar ribbons (the pretty shiny ones will keep them away, placed in numerous areas of the garden. Well I had a half dozen rolls of this, so why not try it.
I tied 2 foot long pieces on sticks, on supporting stakes and on the plants themselves. Guess what, I never had another problem, ever! I have reused them ever since.
Source: Somewhere on the internet.
By Katryn from Chester, VT
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! Oh, yes, I tried the hair, soap, garlic, cayenne pepper, talcum powder tricks, but to no avail. So, here's what to do: Whirl an egg in the blender with a cup of water, pour into a pistol-grip spray bottle, fill the rest of the bottle near the top, adding 1 tsp. dish soap (helps adhere to the plant) and set outside in the hot sun for 3 days, until it becomes putrefied. Give the deer-loving plants a little squirt. You need to reapply only after a rain. I make up 2 bottles at a time so I always have one in reserve. It keeps fine over the winter if you don't use it all up. It's the only thing you'll ever need to keep those pests away.
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
Like 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:
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.
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.
By Ellen Brown
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.
By Sherri from Lyle, WA
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Here are questions related to Keeping Deer Out of Your Garden.
By DEB (Guest Post)08/06/2008
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.
How do you keep deer out of your garden? Thanks.
By Linda L.
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.
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
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.
I heard that you could use Dawn on plants outside so deer would not eat them. How much should I use?
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.
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
Mille Woodsi from Alto, N.M.
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.
By Todd Young from Baraboo WI (Guest Post)08/01/2007
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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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
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