How To Deer Proof Your Garden
Creative Ways To Keep Deer Out Of Your Garden
For those of us that live in a suburban area or a mountain area learning to live with the native wildlife is par for the course. For the most part we can live in harmony with the critters that share our gardens and derive much enjoyment from seeing them there. Deer, however, can cause irreparable damage to gardens and be the source or some serious headaches in the process.
As a mountain homeowner, I have spent hundreds of dollars year after year on various plants and tactics in order to keep deer out of my yard and from destroying my flowers and plants. They come in under cover of night and immediately devour what new delicacies have appeared since their last visit, taking the greatest pleasure, I am sure in nipping off the almost open buds of tomorrows blossoms. It seems to be a never ending battle, one that I am determined to win.
Aside from building an 8 foot high fence (deer can leap a 6 foot high fence with ease) surrounding your entire property, which would work but is very costly and possibly unsightly, there are numerous other options. Most of these options I have tried and I present here on this page. Each method is honestly evaluated from personal experience and will give you a good idea of what truly works and what does not as well as what might work for your specific and unique yard and garden.
Photo and more excellent information on deer proofing your garden can be found at grove landscaping
Deer Proof Plants
Do they really exist and do they really work?
Much has been written about what plants can be used to lessen the impact of deer in your garden. Long lists of plants that deer supposedly do not like to eat are often cited. I have personally purchased and planted almost all of the plants on those long lists with minimal to no success. Deer, I have found, will eat almost anything, especially when hungry, even the cactus I had hoped would deter them.
Here is a list, which I, through trial and error, have found to be the least bothered by deer. I am in a mountain region in Colorado so the deer we have problems with here are mule deer though the plants I am told will be unpleasant and not as frequently eaten by the white tailed deer common along the east coast of the United States.
Native plants growing in their native habitats may be less appealing to deer than highly fertilized and highly watered Garden plants. The best 'deer proof' plants in general are those with the strongest fragrance.
Sage (spp) especially Russian sage which is very fragrant
Yucca (spp) All yucca with a sharp, stiff point
lead plant (Amorpha canescens)
potentilla (typical cinquefoils)
Austrian copper rose (Rosa foetida)
Quince ( Cydonia oblonga)
'Blue Mist' spirea (Caryopteris)
winged euonymus (Euonymus alatus)
golden currant ( Ribes aureum)
Oregon grape holly ( Mahonia aquifolium)
Prostrate Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis Prostratus)
Bearded Iris (Iris spp)
Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Spined Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia spp)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Angel Trumpet (Datura spp )
Bouncing Bet / Soapwort (Saponaria officinalis)
Mint (Metha piperia)
Larkspurs (Delphinium consolida)
Marigolds (Tagetes spp)
Periwinkles (Catharanthus roseus)
Zinnias (Zinnia spp)
Spider Flower (Cleome Hassleran)
Geranium (spp) native, wild variety is best.
Bee Balm (Monarda fistulosa and Monarda didyma)
Just Say No
Purchase Deer Proof Plants and Seeds Here
Deer Repellent Spray
Numerous deer repellent sprays can be used to ward off deer from your yard. There repellents can be homemade or purchased at your local gardening supply store or here (see below). I have had mixed results while using deer repellent sprays, some of which leave an unpleasant odor or spots on your plants.
Here are some tips to apply if you really want to make this method work. First, start early in spring. Begin to spray early in spring and continue through fall. Most deer repellent sprays need to be reapplied every 2-3 months at a minimum. I would recommend every two weeks, especially if you live in a more humid climate and experience a lot of rain. New growth is the deer’s favorite part so be sure to put the repellent on just as the plants begin to sprout and before the deer start coming around doing damage. It is much easier to deter them if they haven’t already been eating there.
Don't spray if it is getting ready to rain. Spray on non-windy days when the temperature will be at least 40 and less than 90 degrees.
Change it up. Deer can become accustomed to smells and tastes. Rather than just changing the brand of deer repellent you're using, identify what the active ingredient is. Then, change the active ingredient, likewise if you are making your own repellent. Some competing brands or homemade recipes may use the same active ingredient, yet in different strengths. Rotate your repellent and ingredients every season.
If possible, try to target more than one sense such as taste and sight, or smell and sound. This makes your yard a much more intimidating place for the deer. Read further on this page for other tips to use in combination with deer repellents.
Homemade Deer Repellent Spray Recipes
3 raw eggs
3 tbls. of red hot sauce
3 tbls. of garlic juice or minced
Add enough water to a blender to process and mix well. Add this to a gallon of water and spray on plants. You can make the spray last longer by adding Wilt Proof to it.
FROM: www.Rutherford County.org
4 hot peppers or enough to make it very hot
6-12 gloves of garlic, enough to make it stink
5 cups of warm water.
Put it all in a blender and liquify it. Put it in an old milk jug. Set it out for a couple of days in the sun to let it cook and get really stinky and hot. Strain it good if you want to use it in a sprayer. You can also pour it on and/or around the plants directly from the jug.
4 tablespoons ground cayenne pepper
1 cup white vinegar
Â½ cup peeled garlic
1 cup clear ammonia
1 cup Murphy's oil soap
1 bar Ivory hand soap (Optional)
Boil the cayenne in the vinegar for one minute and strain through a coffee filter. Puree garlic in 2 cups of water in a blender. Strain that mixture through another coffee filter. Combine the two liquids with the ammonia and oil soap in a 3 gallon garden sprayer. Fill the sprayer to the maximum level with water. Spray on areas you wish to protect. For extra stickiness, float a bar of Ivory soap in the spray and use it over several fillings. Reapply weekly and after rains.
Mix one whole egg with a quarter cup of water and mix well. Pour the mixture into a pump bottle and spray it on your plants. This deterrent will withstand light rains because the egg sticks to the leaves. ~ Mix one tablespoon of liquid dish detergent with one ounce of hot sauce in one litre of water and spray directly on plants which deer have been nibbling. ~ For larger volume applications, mix the following ingredients:
2 gallons water (8 liters)
2 whole eggs
2 T cooking oil
2 T liquid detergent
Pour the mixture into a pump bottle and spray it on your plants.
Other Deer Repellent Ideas
Other methods that sometimes work to repel deer are those that target the deer's sense of sight, smell or sound. The use of soap is one such method. Take a bar of Irish Spring, Lifebuoy or Dial (soaps that have a lot of scent), drill a hole in the bar and hang it with a fishing line. Hang one bar every 3 feet on large trees.
In addition to soap, old CD's can be hung in a similar manner as their shininess frightens the deer. Human hair, coyote urine, moth balls, bone tar oil, rancid grease, feathermeal (dried chicken feathers),dried blood or blood meal. These can be put alone or in combination in a nylon stocking, mesh bag, or plastic bag with holes about 3 feet off the ground. Fabric softener cloths can be hung every 3 feet. Also ammonia-soaked rags can be used.
Here is a Scare Deer Repellent recipe:
1 yard of old sheeting, cotton, or muslin
1/4 cup bloodmeal
1 cup of hair clippings
Cut the fabric into small 4-inch squares. Mix the bloodmeal and hair together and place about a tablespoon onto the center of each square. Bring up the ends and secure with a string or rubber band. Hang these little packets from the branches of the trees and shrubs.
Sound and light as well as water can all be used to keep deer away. Sprayers, sold below can be attached to a regular hose and will shoot streams of water at the deer as they approach, lights or noise makers can also be set up to turn on due to motion and this may frighten deer.
Predator Urine and Feces Can Be Used As Deer Repellent
The first year we lived in our home in the mountains, we had absolutely no deer problems and a beautiful, colorful garden. We also had a mountain lion roaming the yard and area as part of its territory. (it ate our 3 cats sadly, but that's another story)
Every animal alive is a part of a predator-prey relationship. The predator marks its territory with urine and stalks its prey. Animals of the same species recognize the urine scent which triggers a territorial response related to a dominance hierarchy within the species. Prey like deer, rabbits and squirrels react to the scent of their predators by trying to avoid those predators at all costs. Often the scent of urine is the only warning sign that there is a predator lurking in the area. This is why predator pee and sometimes poop can be used as a repellent.
In many areas, especially those where there are white tailed deer, coyote pee is the best best, in other areas mountain lion pee works best. To apply, spray the urine around your property where you want to repel the deer. Try to make several scent markings where it will appear as if a coyote or mountain lion has been urinating to mark its territory. Spray trees, a fence or a trail, even a structure close to where you suspect the deer are coming in to your yard from.
How long the treatment will last depends on the time of year, the amount of rain, alternative food supplies and the type of deer you have around. Applying every 2 weeks is a good bet.
Predator poop can be obtained from your local area zoo and is best diluted and spread around the area you wish to protect.
photo source: http://coldfuse2.agriculture.purdue.edu/entm/wildlife/profindust/animals/mammals/coyotes.cfm