How to Keep Deer Out of Your Garden

Deer are lovely creatures, but they can wreak havoc on your garden. To deer, a well-tended garden is an invitation to feast. In the spring, they will nibble on tulip buds, juicy new leaves, and flowers on shrubs. Throughout summer, they will ransack your garden for roses, tomatoes, lilies, and beans.

In the fall, bucks will scrape the downy fuzz off their antlers by rubbing them against the trunks of trees, stripping off the bark. They will smash younger trees to the ground in the process. During the winter, hungry deer will feed on evergreens.

Deer are lovely creatures, but they can wreak havoc on your garden.
Deer are lovely creatures, but they can wreak havoc on your garden.

Keeping Deer Off Your Garden

High fences can keep deer out of a garden. But fences can be expensive. They can also spoil the atmosphere of a well-planned, well laid-out garden.

Instead of spraying chemicals on your plots, there are a few simple measures you can take to discourage deer, and maybe even other critters.

Choose your plants.

Consider surrounding your garden with a thick layer of plants that have a strong fragrance. Lavender and marigolds are an excellent option.

Deer are reluctant to walk through lavender. The smell stays on their legs. This makes it hard for them to assess their environment and sense predators. Deer dislike the astringent smell of marigolds for the same reasons.

You don’t have to go crazy, but the more plants, the better. You can mix in other fragrant herbs, like mint, oregano, or catnip, as well.

Deer are reluctant to walk through lavender.
Deer are reluctant to walk through lavender.

Sprinkle soap shavings around your garden.

Try sprinkling soap shavings around your garden. The tallow in the soap helps keep deer away, according to experts.

Any fragrant soap will help keep deer away from your plants. However, you should steer clear of bars containing coconut oil, which may actually attract them.

The tallow in the soap helps keep deer away, according to experts.
The tallow in the soap helps keep deer away, according to experts.

Use scare tactics.

You can make your garden unappealing to deer by simulating unexpected sights and sounds. These would trigger the animal’s instinct’s against predators.

For instance, by stringing up CDs around your garden, you’re creating a motion that is unfamiliar to deer. They will spook.

White flags are another effective visual deterrent. Create a white flag about 10 inches long and five inches wide that resembles a white deer tail.  They will see the tail move, but no realize there is no deer. This will often confuse them and cause them to flee.

Hanging up pie tins and aluminum cans around your garden creates both an unusual visual and sound.

For these to work, it’s crucial to rotate the deterrent you use. Otherwise, the deer will grow accustomed to your tactics and continue nibbling on your plants.

Hanging up pie tins and aluminum cans creates both an unusual visual and sound.
Hanging up pie tins and aluminum cans creates both an unusual visual and sound.
( Photo: Klearchos Kapoutsis/Flickr)

Build an invisible fence.

Perhaps the best – and most obvious – way to manage deer is to fence off your garden. Some gardeners have come up with clever ways to build barriers around their plots.

For instance, you can use just a few rows of clear fishing wire to keep the deer away from your garden.

Simply stake the perimeter of the garden with tall pieces of wood about 5 feet high. Then, starting a few inches from the ground, string a row of fishing line. Repeat the process three more times, placing the rows of fishing wire about a foot apart.

You can use just a few rows of clear fishing wire to keep the deer away from your garden.
You can use just a few rows of clear fishing wire to keep the deer away from your garden.
(Photo: Stiwki22/Wikimedia Commons)

The result is a tall, almost-invisible fence. The deer can’t see the fishing wire, so they won’t attempt to jump over. This way, you can keep them out without compromising the beauty of your patch.

Many people – even those living in urban areas – have “deer problems.” Fortunately, there are a number of ways to keep them off your well-loved patch of greenery.

Remember, though, that deer learn quickly. Your best bet is to try rotating a few different methods for the best results.

Close Panel