How to Keep Deer Out of Your Garden

You put a lot of work into your garden and now things are in full bloom.  Unfortunately, all it takes is a single visit from a wandering deer for your luscious garden to turn into a barren plot of land once the deer uses your garden as a local dining establishment.  Given that the deer population in our area appears to be on the increase, there are certain precautions you can take to minimize the risk of having your garden become a smorgasbord of flavors for these animals.

Keeping deer out of the garden can be a challenge.
Caption: How to keep deer out of your garden becomes a top priority when you’ve invested a lot of time and sweat in growing it. Photo credit: Mike Sutton, Some rights reserved under CC 2.0

Deer Resistant Flowers and Plants

One way to keep deer out of your garden is to surround your garden with deer resistant flowers or other plants that most deer find undesirable. Marigolds, crape myrtle, Geranium ‘Rozanne’, foxglove, mint, chives and rosemary are plants that deer typically avoid and will send them looking elsewhere for their next meal.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac also offers the following deer resistant gardening suggestions when trying to figure out what to plan to keep them away:

  • Deer tend to stay away from poisonous plants, so daffodils, foxgloves, and poppies are common flowers that have a toxicity that deer avoid.
  • Deer also turn their noses up at fragrant plants with strong scents.  Herbs such as sages, ornamental salvias, lavenders, peonies, and bearded irises are just “stinky” to deer.
  • Deer tend to shy away—just like humans do—from prickly plants such as lamb’s ear.

Here’s the one caveat to remember—when deer become desperate and hungry for food, they will often eat plants they would otherwise avoid.  As Merrideth Jiles points out in his video on deer-resistant plants, there’s really no such thing as a deer-proof plant.

Check out The Great Outdoors site for a comprehensive list of deer resistant plants, and tips on how to keep deer out of garden areas.

Deer Repellent

You can purchase commercial repellents at the  local Home Depot or Lowe’s or you can go online to find a large number of vendors that sell products designed to keep these pesky animals out of your garden.  Coyote, fox or mountain lion urine are known to be effective deterrents.  You can also make use of natural options such as onions, garlic or even fish guts.

However, the issue some folks have with deer repellents is that sometimes they deter folks from wanting to spend time in their garden due to the potent smell they give off!  A less objectionable deterrent is as simple as hanging a few bars of strong smelling soap (Dial and Irish Spring work great) in old socks or nylons around the garden perimeter.  Another natural deterrent is spreading human hair in the garden as well, but you may not have a lot of that on hand to fill up your flower beds!

Scare Tactics

Deer tend to be skittish creatures by nature; sometimes the best way to keep them out of your yard is to give them a good scare to keep them away from your precious garden.  Unpredictable sounds—such as a loud radio—bright light and motion may get them to turn and run.  Wind chimes, flags or windsocks can also do the job and beautify your garden space.  If you have dogs, give them a chance to earn their keep and make them your garden watchdogs.

The problem with some scare tactics, however, is that deer may become used to them over time and overcome their fears to make a meal out of your garden.

Deer Fencing

Of course, our preferred—and perhaps the most effective—way of dealing with deer is to protect your garden with some form of fencing.  Unlike repellants or scare tactics, fencing is both animal and environmentally friendly and can add an aesthetic appeal to your garden, depending upon which type of fence you use.  Another advantage is that you remain free to organize your garden the way you want it to look as opposed to having to design your garden with plants whose sole purpose is to keep deer away—not everyone is a fan of peonies!

Before building a deer fence, just remember that some deer can jump as high as eight feet, and if they are starving for food, they are quite capable of making a giant leap to get access to some nourishing goodies from your garden.  Also, no matter what fence style you select, you need to fully fence your entire garden area for the best protection from these unwanted guests.

Is there a fence that works best for keeping deer out of your garden? A lot of that will depend upon the terrain where you install your fence, the type of materials you use and—ultimately—your budget.

If you’re interested in designing your own fence to keep deer from making a meal out of your garden or having Frederick Fence come out to assess your yard and what it will take to protect you from these unwanted guests, contact us today for a quote!