Keeping deer out of the yard is probably the last thing on your mind when gardening. New gardeners might even welcome deer into their yards, excited to have a beautiful creature visiting their home.
However, the excitement disappears when they realize how quickly deer can destroy vegetable patches, ravage flowers, and consume the fruits from their trees.
It doesn’t stop there. Aside from destroying gardens, deer can also carry ticks, making it much more likely for the household to contract Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread to humans and animals through the bite of infected ticks.
Most gardeners prefer to deer-proof their homes to protect the plants for which they tirelessly care. There are several ways to keep deer out of gardens, ranging from plants that one should grow to techniques that actively repel deer.
The following are the top six ways to keep deer out of your garden.
How to Keep Deer Out of Gardens
1. Grow Deer-Resistant Plants
Growing deer-resistant plants is the best and most straightforward way to keep deer out of one’s garden. If deer keep coming back to eat certain plants, replace those plants with varieties deer don’t like.
Deer stay away from plants such as:
These plants have fuzzy or hairy leaves that don’t feel great in their mouths.
Deer also avoid prickly plants like sea hollies and the blue-globe thistle, which deer cannot quickly eat. This is the same reason leathery or fibrous plants like peonies are considered deer-resistant.
Growing toxic plants should be a last resort. Deer learn which kinds of plants to avoid at an early age, but some poisonous plants may pose a threat to other household members.
2. Build a Deer Fence
Installing a fence around the property can help secure one’s garden, but it isn’t fool-proof.
Deer can jump over most fences, so the barrier should be at least 7 feet tall. Solid fences that deer can’t see through will prevent them from jumping into the garden, considering they wouldn’t know what is on the other side of the wall.
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Putting another fence past the first fence can also deter deer from exploring a property. If a deer chooses to jump, they may end up trapped between two barriers. Some gardeners use tall netting that can still keep deer out but keep the home’s aesthetics intact.
Large, cleverly placed rocks instead of fences can do the trick as well, but some choose to go electric instead. Like toxic plants, however, electric fences may harm other humans and animals. If all else fails, individually fencing the plants can save them.
3. Scare the Deer Away
Homeowners don’t have to hide in their gardens, waiting to scare the deer when they arrive. Frightening deer through sound and sight is enough to keep them away, at least for a while.
Some people choose to hang empty tin cans or wind chimes of different sizes and material by their plants, producing different sounds to scare the deer away.
However, the deer can get used to these sounds and ignore them over time. Tying balloons to plants’ branches, hanging old CDs by the perimeter, and rearranging scarecrows can make the deer suspicious of the environment, preventing them from going further into the property.
If none of this works, it might be worth thinking about investing in motion-detecting sprinklers. Sprinklers equipped with sensors can detect any passing deer and spray mist into the air, surprising the deer and providing moisture to the garden.
4. Apply Deer Repellents Regularly
According to Cornell University’s Department of Natural Resources, deer repellents can reduce their browsing on individual shrubs by up to 75%. Most repellents inhibit a deer’s sense of taste and smell, which is why many of these products smell like decaying flesh or rotten eggs.
The best deer repellents have additives that allow them to spread and stick to plants for an extended period. The one way to make sure any spray repellent works is to apply it to non-deer-resistant plants at least weekly.
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Some deer repellents aren’t sprays, such as bottles of predator urine or hair that need to be placed near the plants. Like wind chimes and scarecrows, though, the deer may ignore these repellents once they get used to their presence.
5. Change the Landscape
Hooved animals like cattle and deer dislike the feel of large, unstable rocks under them, so they avoid areas containing stones. Adding stones throughout one’s garden can provide another method to keep deer away.
Steep slopes and gardens with different levels are also quite difficult for deer to navigate. Terraces, stairs, and sunken sections of a yard are too much work for deer to climb over. One look at these new additions to the garden, and they will likely move on to someplace else.
6. Let the Dogs Free
Buying and using wind chimes, fences, and repellents isn’t an option for everyone, but they might already have dogs. Letting dogs roam free in the garden ensures that deer stay away the moment they hear a bark. The only problem is dogs may pose a risk to one’s plants, too.
Dogs can destroy plants the same way deer do or dig up holes out of boredom when no one looks. Some dogs may even strike a friendship with the deer, foiling their family’s plan at a deer-free garden.
Making a Deer-Friendly Garden
If keeping deer out of one’s garden seems like an impossible task, inviting them isn’t such a bad idea.
Deer eat from apple, willow, cedar, yew, and hawthorn trees, as well as azalea, holly, and blueberry bushes. They are also fond of strawberries, alfalfa, and ferns. Homeowners can set up a small section of the garden just for the deer while protecting any treasured plants using netting.
Last update on 2020-09-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API