How To Keep Deer Out Of Your Garden

Want to learn how to keep deer out of your garden?

If you’re finding that deer are a nuisance in your yard, the best thing to do is to find ways to stop them from coming around.

Deer are beautiful animals and because they’re so skittish, it can feel like a privilege to see one during the day.

Yet, deer can be a huge problem for you and your garden. Finding ways to keep them out of your yard will save you a lot of frustration and dealing with the damage they cause.

This guide will take you through 14 Ways you can prevent deer from coming to your garden.

First, let’s start by looking at why you should discourage deer from coming into your yard.

Why Do You Need to Deter Deer?

1. Deer Eat your Plants

If you grow any type of plant, bush, or vegetables in your yard, then you’re going to attract deer. That’s because deer will mainly feed on vegetation.

Without proper protection from deer, your plants will be destroyed in the space of a night. Deer will eat both the fruits and flowers, as well as the leaves and buds. Often they’ll eat so much that your plants won’t recover and will die off.

This can be really frustrating. Especially if you’ve put a lot of time and effort into growing flowers or vegetables in your yard.

2. Deer Cause Landscape Damage

Deer can quickly make a real mess of your yard. They will ruin trees by eating them or rubbing with their antlers. Deer will also easily ruin your lawn by digging for grubs.

Landscaping can be pretty expensive if you’ve paid for a professional to do it for you. If you’ve done all the hard work yourself, then it’s frustrating to see the damage caused. You’ll have to spend double the time fixing their mess.

3. Deer can be Bad for your health

One thing you may not know about deer is that they can be risky for your health.

Deer are carriers for black-legged ticks.

These deer ticks carry many diseases which are harmful to human health including:

  • Lyme disease
  • Babesiosis
  • Anaplasmosis
  • Powassan virus Disease

Lymes disease is probably the most well-known on that list. These diseases will likely need treatment and can result in fatal complications.

Deer ticks can also be passed on to you or your pets, and damage their health.

4. Deer Can cost lives

Having deer roaming in an urban neighborhood at night can be dangerous for motorists.

That’s due to the increased risk of road collisions. Hitting a deer with a car can at best cost a lot of damage and an expensive repair bill. At worst it can cause a person and probably the deer to die or cause life-changing injury.

The average deer collision costs around $3000 in repairs and kills up to 200 people in the USA every year.

5. Deer Cost you money

Letting deer roam around your yard unchecked will cost you money at some point. Whether that’s due to clean up, replacing plants, landscaping costs, health care, vet bills, or items to help deter, repel or exclude them.

The best way to stop these problems is to find ways to keep deer out of your yard in the first place.

The good news is that there are lots of natural and humane ways you can keep deer out of your yard. Each method has its own benefits and drawbacks. You may find that you have better success using a few methods together to get the greatest effect.

Let’s get started by looking at what methods you can use.

14 Ways to Keep Deer Out of your Garden

1. Use light and sound

Deer are very skittish animals. Although they are not nocturnal animals they do prefer to eat at night when it’s dark and quiet. This helps them to detect the threat of a predator easily.

This preference for night conditions makes deer easily scared by bright light or noise at night.

One simple way to keep deer away is using motion sensor security lights around your property at night. Large bright lights (like this) have the best effect. I

Once those motion of the deer in your yard triggers the lights, the deer are outta there!

This solution is simple as it doesn’t need much effort, apart from the initial light installation.

Deer have a really keen sense of hearing and will find success when teaming the effect of light with noise. Some techniques our readers have used are to play radio static or use wind chimes on your porch.

Please be mindful that nearby neighbors may not be happy with constants noise through the night, so you might want to run the idea past them first.

2. Adjust your bird feeders

The main thing that will attract deer to your yard is access to easy food sources.

The most common ones are ground or openly try bird feeders that they can easily eat.

Deer really like to eat seeds and corn, and a lot of commercial bird mixes will contain these. They will happily come back again and again for an easy food source.

Although this may not seem like an issue if they are leaving your plants alone. The problem is that it will cost you a lot of money replacing all that birdseed that they drain each night. They can also damage expensive feeders and poles trying to get to the food.

You may need to take down your bird feeders until the deer problem is solved. If that’s not an option then try using bitter seeds like safflower or Nyger.

3. Avoid deer friendly plants

You’ll notice that deer will take the opportunity to eat any plants that they enjoy. They won’t care if it’s taken you a long to grow it from a seed.

The easiest way to prevent deer from being attracted to your plant is to avoid plant flowers that they have a preference for including:

  • Geraniums
  • Candy Lilly
  • Sea holly
  • Sunflowers
  • Elderberries
  • Fruit trees

Basically, deer love to eat any plants or flowers that are smooth, tender, as well as sweet tasting.

If you want to plant these in your yard try placing them on a border near your home. Deer prefer to stay on the outskirts of your yard so they can flee easily.

You may also want to think about growing these plants in a greenhouse. This gives the plants a physical barrier but also time to mature.

4. Plant things they hate

A really eco-friendly way to deter deer from your garden is you use your landscaping skills against them.

There are three ways you can go about this method including planting things that

  • Taste bad
  • Smell strong
  • Are deer resistant

Strongly scented plants can be used to deter deer by masking the smell of the plants they like. Plants such as garlic or lavender used in front of the deer’s favorites can be enough to keep them away.

Bitter-tasting plants are a sure-fire way to keep deer away from your yard. Some good ones to try are foxgloves, lily of the valley, and bleeding hearts.

Other deer-resistant plants are usually ones that are fuzzy, prickly, or thorny to eat. That doesn’t mean they won’t have a go, but they’ll pass pretty quickly.

5. Smell Deterrents

Deer have a really good sense of smell. It’s one of the things that helps them to find food that they like. We’ve already discussed how Deer don’t like some plants with strong or pungent smells.

Even if you don’t want to plant these things in your yard you can use this information against them.

Scents that deter deer include:

  • Garlic
  • Clove
  • Chives
  • Lavender
  • Mint

You can use these to make a homemade deer repellent spray. That way you can spray these smells around your yard to keep the deer away without having to maintain plants.

The problem with smell detergents is that they can often be washed off with wet weather. This means you will need to reapply more often.

Some readers have had success spraying egg whites onto or near plants. Yet this creates quite a pungent smell, so you’ll want to do this in areas far away from your house.

6. Try Spices

Deer often don’t like spices. That’s because it causes their nose to become irritated and affects their sense of smell.

One easy way to keep deer away is to supply some spices around your yard or near plants they are eating.

Spices that deer don’t like are:

  • Cayenne pepper
  • Habanero pepper
  • Hot chili flakes
  • Cinnamon

You can spray a mix of hot pepper sauce and vegetable oil around the area they would enter your yard. This can also be spread around features in your garden to help the smell accumulate and keep deer away.

7. Use deer repellent

If making your own homemade repellent isn’t for you, then you can buy ready-made deer replant sprays and pellets.

The type of repellent will really depend on what brand you buy. The bestselling deer repellent spray on Amazon is Deer out. This one is a concentrated mint smell.

Other brands are usually a mix of various strong scents that deer don’t like such as garlic, clove, fish, and vinegar.

Often these sprays have egg whites in the mix. This means that the scents stick longer and you won’t need to spray them as often. Yet I’d recommend spraying often initially so the scent doesn’t fade.

Some gardeners have has success with using predator urine. Coyote and wolf urine could work well on the deer. This is the bestselling coyote urine on Amazon.

The problem is that deer often become accustomed to the scent. In that case, you may want to rotate the scent from two different species to keep the deer guessing.

And if it’s crossed your mind, human urine doesn’t work!

8. Use a physical barrier

One of the most effective ways you’ll stop deer from getting into your yard is by using a physical barrier to stop them from entering in the first place.

A hedge can be a very effective way to stop deer from getting into your yard. The problem with a hedge is that it can take a long time to mature. Yet it may be something to think about as a long-term plan to keep deer out.

A solution you can put in place quickly is a fence. Unless you’re skilled at building fences it’s best to get this done professionally. That’s because deer will exploit any breach in a poorly made fence.

Fences also need to be high enough to prevent the deer from jumping over. Also if your use wiring, the mesh needs to be small enough to stop deer from squeezing through the gaps.

Specifications for Deer Fences

Deer SpeciesMinimum Fence HeightMinimum mesh size
White-tailed deer6.2ft8×7 inch
Black-Tailed Deer5.9ft      8×7 inch
Mule deer5.9ft8×6 inch
Caribou6.2ft      8×7 inch
Moose6.2ft                      8×7 inch
Brocket5.9ft      8×6 inch
Elk8ft8×7 inch

9. Protect your plants

Using a physical barrier is the most effective way to prevent deer from getting to your plants. Yet it can be a very expensive way to keep deer out.

Using physical barriers around the parts of your garden you want to keep safe is the next best thing.

The most vulnerable parts of your garden are the pants that deer love to eat. Deer seem to like eating young plants before they reach their full potential.

Tree tubes and Plastic mesh fences like this can be ideal. Just be careful that any mesh you use is well secured as there is a risk deer can become entangled in them. This will cause damage to the deer and your yard when they panic.

10. Try Electronic repellents

There are a variety of electronic deer repellents available on the market.

These work on scare tactics that will keep the skittish deer aware from your yard.

You’ll find devices can work in a variety of ways. This includes emitting high-frequency sounds, flashing lights, predator noises, or motion-activated water sprays. Here are a few of the most popular brands you can buy.

Once these devices are up and running they’ll make your yard uncomfortable for deer to lazily graze on your plants.

Most of these devices are fairly inexpensive. I like how a lot of them are solar-powered because you set them up and forget them. No need to constantly charge them to hold an effect.

11.  Use Grandma’s soap trick

This deer repellent tip is one of my favorites because it has probably been passed down for generations.

Using bars of Irish spring soap can help to keep deer out of your yard.

You can hang the whole bar in a mesh bag in various spots around your yard. Or you may try using shaving of the soap and sprinkle it around your yard so it goes further.

This soap has such a strong scent that it drives the deer away. The fact that it’s in a fatty soap form stops it from losing the scent when it rains.

Irish spring soap won’t hurt your plants or any edibles that you’re growing in your yard.

It’s a simple trick to use for deterring other pests such as rabbits and mice.

12. Maintain your yard

Although deer will mostly be attracted to your yard for the plants, there is another food source that will keep them coming back.

One popular choice of food for animals is the June bug grubs that are found on your lawn. Deer will dig up your lawn to find these juicy grubs.

Keeping your lawn well aerated and maintained will stop June bugs laying eggs in your lawn.

Keeping your yard well maintained is one of the best ways to prevent raccoons from coming into your yard.  For more help with this, you can check out my guide on how to prevent June bug grubs in your yard.

Another source of food for deer is fallen fruit. Keep your yard clear of any fruit that falls from the trees near the end of the summer and autumn months.

13. Use fishing line

One really cheap and effective physical deterrent for a deer is to place strategic pieces of thin fishing wire around your yard.

The deer won’t see them and will walk into them c and scaring them off.

A few horizontal lines stretch across wooden stakes in your yard will work like a charm. Or you can use it around existing structures like trees.

I found the most effective heights are around 1.5ft and another around 3ft off the ground is best. This will get their legs and neck or nose.

Any fishing line will do but I’d recommend a 10-15lb weight line for strength. If you don’t already have fishing wire then I’d recommend this brand as it’s really easy to work with and tie knots in.

14. Use a dog

A territorial dog can be very useful at keeping deer away. Your dog needs to be allowed to roam in the yard to have a good effect on the deer. Although a well-timed bark may be enough to scare the deer off.

Yet most dogs will retire at night which is when the deer come out to play. Also, this isn’t a great solution if you don’t have a dog.

One thing you can do is to pretend a dog is roaming at night with something like a coyote decoy. Using a coyote decoy along with their urine scent and an electronic growl machine is likely to be very effective.

If you go down this route I highly recommend you move the coyote around your yard frequently. Otherwise, the deer become aware that it’s not a threat and just ignore it.

Deer Removal services

You may have noticed that hunting or hiring deer removal professionals aren’t on this list.

That’s because while these techniques do work to remove individual deer, it’s not a great way to deter them. These methods usually result in deer dying unnecessarily.

The truth is that if one deer is attracted to your yard it’s likely other deer will be too.

Hunting, trapping, and removing individual deer is a reactive solution rather than a proactive one.

The idea is to make your yard an uncomfortable environment for deer to search for food. That way you’ll stop the deer from coming to your yard in the first place before you need to shell out to have them removed.

Final thoughts

There are lots of natural and humane ways to keep deer out of your garden. Most of these methods will annoy the deer, make them scared or uncomfortable in your yard.

Once they realize that they won’t get an easy meal in your garden they’ll avoid it as much as they can.

All these methods are simple to put in place and don’t need a lot of effort to maintain. It’s a trade-off for the time and energy you’ll waste leaving deer to make a mess.

I recommend using a few methods together to get the best results. Hopefully, your garden will be deer-free in no time.

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