How to Keep Deer Out of The Garden

How to Keep Deer Out of The Garden

Well, the word has gotten out. The deer know you have started another buffet of green delicacies.  Word spreads fast in the forest and it won’t be long before these uninvited guests will arrive at  your garden gate.

Deer tend to feed on our gardens at night making it difficult to keep them out of the garden.

Some favorites of deer are: Apples, Arborvitae/white cedar, Arrow wood Viburnum, Birch, Day lilies,  Dogwood, Euonymus, Garden lilies, Hostas, Hydrangea, Impatiens, Linden/basswood, Yews, and Roses.  An important factor that will effect how often deer enter your vegetable garden, is availability of food in their native habitat.

Unless you live in a city, the odds are you will have deer in your garden at some point. If you  live in the country, your garden is almost like having an open invitation for dinner – everyday.  These nuisance deer can be difficult to deter without taking some serious and consistent action  to prevent them from enjoying a buffet dinner that you call your garden.

So How Do You Keep Deer Out of The Garden?

There are several ways to keep deer out of your garden, some of these deer repellents you may not even be aware of. In addition, there are many plants that deer will usually avoid. One of the hottest products to hit the market to protect your plants from deer is the Scarecrow – a motion activated sprinkler that shoots a 3 second burst of water in the direction that triggers it.

There are many home remedies that may be effective, but only for a short time. Fencing is expensive,  labor intensive and needs to be at least six feet high – besides, who wants to hide their beautiful  garden behind a fence – in some case a fence is not even an option. Planting deer resistant plants  may deter deer until they get really hungry – kind of like kids and spinach. Dry weather will attracted deer to irrigated plants for the refreshing moisture.

Overall, the final consensus amongst most gardeners is effective deer management requires a combination of deterrents to be effective. This includes commercial repellents combined with home made remedies as listed below. Fencing for most of us, is not an option and very expensive. As such, we won’t cover  fencing here. Instead we will focus on the known alternatives.

Deer Repellents & Control:

Use these known deer repellents and controls in combination for best results:


A dog that will actively chase away deer is probably the number one, most effective deer deterrent there is. If your dog does not wander, keep him out at night and you should have no further problem with deer. If Fido is a little on the lazy side, other alternatives as listed below may warrant attention.

The Scarecrow:

The Scarecrow is a motion activated sprinkler that works both day and night. It not only scares away deer, but is effective for cats, dogs, rabbits, raccoons and larger birds. It sprays a maximum 35 foot stream of water for 3 seconds. One 9 volt battery will provide approximately 3000 bursts of water. Works on water pressure between 30 – 80 psi (use a pressure reducer at higher psi), is fully adjustable and comes with a 24 month warranty.

Liquid Fence ®:

All natural, the long lasting Liquid Fence ® Deer & Rabbit Repellent will stop deer and rabbits from eating your flowers, shrubs, vegetable plants, trees and vines. And rest assured, it won’t harm your plants or animals! The manufacturer offers a written 100% money back guarantee.

Features as noted on the Liquid Fence® website:

* Environmentally safe and biodegradable

* USDA field tested

* Easy-to-use

* Long lasting and rain resistant

* Family & pet friendly

* 100% Money Back Guarantee

* Member tested and recommended by the National Home Gardening Club!

* We have not used this product, but it has been recommended by fellow gardeners – usually the most reliable source.

Electric Fence:

The electric fence is often overlooked by many gardeners. It is very effective for cattle and horses and offers some protection against deer – although if they jump over and never touch it, they will not be afraid of it. fortunately, deer tend to graze and nibble as they feed and the odds are in your favor that they will touch your fence and flee, realizing this area is better left alone.

Electric fences are best used for the vegetable garden in back yards, were public access is restricted. You do not want the neighbors kids running home and telling their parents they got zapped. Unless you live in a rural area, you may also find it difficult to find a supplier.  This can be overcome by shopping online or traveling to rural or farming communities near you. Select a low powered fence designed for smaller livestock – after all, you are not trying to keep animals the size of horses or cattle out of the garden.

Low lying electric fences (and low powered) can be effective for Rabbits and other smaller animals. They should be kept very low to the ground using two lines, set on an angle away from the garden – set the first line about 3″ above the ground and the second about 8″.  Keep the lines clear of grass, shrubs or any other material that will ground the charge and reduce the effectiveness of the fence.

A new electric fence for slugs is under development in Canada and should be on the market by 2007. We can not elaborate on this now, but testing is proving very successful and we will provide details when given the go ahead from the developer.

Deer Repellent Plant Protec:

A new product from, this all natural green Deer Repellent plant protector clips easily on most plants. Emits a non-offensive garlic odor keeping deer and other unwanted pests away. Environmentally safe with no spraying and no mess. Plant Protec lasts up to 8 months.

Egg Based Deer Repellent:

A another product from is the Deer Repellent egg based repellent, it has been tested and proven effective against deer browsing. This unique product repels by odor but, unlike some repellents, Deer Away will not be offensive to you. Tested in independent studies by the USDA and Penn State. Deer Away was originally developed for use in large reforestation projects. One application will last up to 2 months. This product is designed for pines, firs, fruits, citrus and ornamentals. Other names this product is known as include “Deer Away” & “Deer-Off”.

Human Hair:

Human hair wrapped in a old nylon and hung on branches or tucked between plants will provide some protection against deer and various animals. The smell of a human indicates danger to most wild animals and should keep deer away from these areas.

Tree Guard(tm):

Tree Guard with Bitrex(tm) is another deer deterrent. It is lightly sprayed on seedlings, shrubs, ornamentals, hedges and flowers to produce a lingering nasty taste that animals do not like – DO NOT USE on anything that you will be eating.

The bitter tasting Bitrex is locked into the plant surface forming a “protective jacket” which resists dew, snow, rain and vaporization. One quart can covers 250-400 seedlings, one gallon – approximately 1000 seedlings. Not a concentrate – ready to go! Tree Guard does not wash off, it adheres with a single application and continues to protect through all kinds of weather.

The Manufacturer states that Tree Guard is the most effective deer deterrent on the market today. We have not used it, so we cannot back this one up.

Bar Soap:

Said to work by a number of gardeners, Take a piece of ivory soap, drill a hole in it, tie it to the plant. The deer won’t come near your plant. You can also put a bar in an old stocking and hang in shrubs – try to find a location, like under large leaves, that will protect the soap from rain and watering – the bar of soap will last much longer.

Sound Based Deterrents:

Their are a number of motion activated sound based deterrents available. However, for most people these can cause more problems with neighbors, than the positive results in your garden. Imagine the neighbors delight, when a high pitched noise goes off several times during the we hours of the night.

If you live in a remote, rural area and feel you won’t be woken up in the night by such products,  check around online for possible suppliers.

Marigolds – Myth or Fact?:

It has been suggested that marigolds planted in a garden will keep deer away. I have tried this on several occasions with little effect. This does not mean it will not work. It is possible that I did not plant enough, or that I used the wrong variety. If you want to try this, I would plant around the plants deer like to eat. Marigolds are attractive and are reported to keep away various insects so it will do any harm to plant them regardless.

Now, if none of these solutions keeps the inquisitive deer out of your garden, a regular fence may be your only choice. However, it is a pretty good bet you’ll have success with one of these options. Good Luck!

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