Many people think of deer as sweet, beautiful and adorable animals—Bambi, anyone?—yet many homeowners in both urban and rural areas view deer as pests. This is because these animals have an irritating habit of munching on rose bushes, trees and other plants and flowers that people cultivate in their gardens, and leaving a tattered, raggedy mess in their wake. Interested in how to keep deer out of your garden for good?
The first and most important thing to remember is that deer are intelligent animals with acute senses and a highly adaptable nature. This means that whichever repellent method you try, the deer that are plaguing your plants are sure to learn and adapt quickly—and then it will be time to try a new technique.
So when it comes to repelling deer, what works and what doesn’t? Which techniques are the most effective for keeping deer away from your yard and garden? Are there any natural, DIY or make-it-yourself products or methods that are effective at keeping deer at bay? Read on if you’d like some pro tips and pointers about how to keep deer out of your garden for good.
How To Keep Deer From Eating Hostas
Deer are hungriest and most active—and destructive to yards, trees and gardens—during the springtime, when does are busy nursing their brand-new fawns and we are all enjoying the ripeness and bounty of the season. Hostas, also known as plantain lilies, are a particularly attractive food source to deer because they’re so moisture-rich and full of protein. Other plants that deer love include lettuce, beans, English ivy, pansies and impatiens, along with many varieties of fruit trees. If you plant any of these in your garden, you’re sure to attract hungry deer families.
One way to keep deer from eating hostas and other deer favorites is to plant them in garden beds that are located close to your home. Since deer are naturally wary of humans, they’ll be less likely to venture close to the lights and activity of your home, even to sample some tasty greenery. You can also plant naturally pungent plants like garlic, mint or lavender in a perimeter around your hostas in hopes that their strong scent will deter deer from venturing past them to the goodness beyond. Finally, if your yard will allow a terraced garden, plant hostas on higher levels. Deer typically aren’t great climbers and will often avoid edibles on higher ground.
How To Keep Deer Out Of Garden: Fishing Line And Other Techniques
Many people believe a good fence makes all the difference in keeping deer out of the yard or garden. Certainly, an effective physical barrier might be the best option when it comes to deer repellent, especially when it comes to protecting fruit trees.
The only trouble is, tall, strong fences are costly to build, and they may not fit in with your landscape design. A good deer fence should be at least eight feet tall, with no more than six-inch gaps to keep deer from squeezing through. Electric fencing is highly effective at keeping deer away, but you might not want an electric fence on your property due to safety concerns.
What if your budget, design aesthetic or safety considerations—or your homeowners’ association—won’t permit you to build a deer-proof fence in your yard? Fortunately, there are other options.
Fishing line is a lot less expensive than fencing, and it can be an effective way to keep deer away from certain plants. Wrap fishing line in a spiral pattern around plants you’re trying to preserve, starting two to three feet up from the ground. Deer are typically confused enough by this thin, annoying barrier that they’ll look elsewhere for food.
Motion-sensor floodlights and barking dogs are two other inexpensive, relatively easy ways to keep deer away from your yard, though neither method is perfect. Your dog can’t be outside barking all the time, after all, and floodlights are effective only at night—plus, your neighbors may be bothered by the noise and the bright light. So what other products or methods can keep deer out of your yard?
What Is The Best Deer Repellent?
Deer use their acute senses of taste and smell to locate food as well as to detect predators and other dangers. Fortunately for gardeners and homeowners, we can capitalize on those acute senses in our efforts to keep deer out of our yards and gardens. Spray repellents and repellent stations containing strongly scented ingredients such as rotten eggs, garlic, mint, thyme or other spices can be very effective in repelling deer. Some products also contain spicy peppers to further discourage deer from eating any plants or trees that have been sprayed with the product.
While these repellents, available at your local hardware store or garden center, are supposed to be odorless to humans once they’re dry, their scent and flavor remain unpleasant to deer for several weeks or even months. If you choose to use a spray repellent product, be sure to shake the bottle well before spraying, since the active ingredients sink to the bottom between uses.
Depending on which product you choose, you may have to re-apply the spray as often every few weeks to keep the product at its peak effectiveness. If you’d prefer a longer-lasting alternative, you might try a repellent station. These products work the same way as repellent sprays, by repelling deer with strong odors and flavors, but their effectiveness lasts longer. On the other hand, repellent station products are likely to be more expensive than sprays.
You can also opt for making your own natural deer repellent at home. One simple method involves mixing the following ingredients together in a bowl:
- Hot water
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 tablespoons each garlic powder and cayenne pepper
Whisk the mixture together and let it sit for two or three days. Once it’s had time to ferment, it’s time to transfer it to a spray bottle and spray it over your plants and trees, especially fruit trees and small, young trees. This should keep the deer at bay as long as it’s dry out, but note that the solution will need to be reapplied frequently, especially after even light precipitation. Any amount of moisture will dilute this spray’s effectiveness, if not completely wash it away.
The truth about all of the above products is that, though they are supposed to be odorless, some homeowners can still smell them. Not surprisingly, most people are just as averse as deer to the scent of rotten eggs or garlic! If you have a sensitive sense of smell, you may want to opt for a spray repellent that utilizes minty, spicy scents to repel deer instead of fouler, more unpleasant ones—or you might want to try a different type of repellent altogether.
Natural And Do-It-Yourself Deer Repellents
Into natural remedies? Here’s a strange one for you: Your body produces the ultimate, single-ingredient, make-it-yourself deer repellent every single day. That’s right, all you have to do to keep deer away from your garden is, well, relieve yourself. As strange and disgusting as it may sound, deer happen to be wary of the scent of human urine. They interpret the scent of human urine as a sign of a nearby dangerous predator, and will stay away.
We realize that few people are desperate enough to resort to these more extreme DIY methods. That said, lots of people also swear by Irish Spring soap as a deer repellent. Cut a bar into cubes and scatter them throughout your garden, or hang some from the branches of your trees. Deer reportedly don’t like the fresh, mildly spicy scent, and will avoid the area.
One other approach is to incorporate deer proof plants into your yard and garden. A few of these species that do well in southern climates are the Texas Mountain Lauren, rosemary and lantana.
How To Keep Deer Away From Trees
Repellent stations, repellent sprays and strong, tall fencing are three great ways to keep deer away from trees. You can position repellent stations near your fruit trees and spray the fruit and leaves with scents that deer dislike. Fences, again, are the most effective way to keep deer out of your yard and away from your trees, but fences must be both tall and sturdy. Deer have been known to squeeze between fence slats or even crawl underneath fences that aren’t properly secured to the ground. Electric fencing is highly effective and not as costly as an eight-foot-tall fence, but they come with their own issues, such as maintenance and safety considerations.
Other effective methods of deterring deer from eating your trees or garden include attaching your yard’s water sprinkler system to a motion sensor so that it will spray water when it detects a deer’s movement. Smart deer, however, will quickly find any “dry areas,” so this method may not work uniformly well unless your sprinklers have excellent coverage.
Noise-making devices can also scare deer away, as can brightly colored ribbons or pinwheels attached to fencing, branches or dowels around your garden. The noise, colors and movements should be enough to scare off any deer, at least until they learn there’s no real danger. (Remember, deer are bright and adaptable animals!)
Call On ABC To Protect Your Plants
If your deer problems are turning out to be more complicated than you can handle on your own, call on the experts at ABC Home & Commercial Services. We have lots of experience with dealing with pesky, unwanted animal intruders, as well as lawn pests. We can work with you to develop an effective solution that fits with your budget and lifestyle requirements, so your yard will no longer be the neighborhood’s free buffet for deer. ABC’s specialists will help you keep animals away for good and keep your lawn and garden looking fantastic, all year long.