While deer may appear to be harmless, they are quite a nuisance in the garden.
These super grazers leap over all but the tallest fences to devour the stems, leaves, and buds of many types of plants, including arborvitae, fir, alfalfa, and roses. They also eat fruits and vegetables.
How to Identify Deer in your Garden
If you notice jagged edges on your plant leaves and cloven hoof prints in your garden, then you probably have a deer problem. Watch out for their bean-shaped droppings as well.
How to Get Rid of Deer
There are many techniques you can try to deter deer from munching on your plants. Try some of these methods for your garden:
- Make it tough for deer to browse. Trim off lower branches of trees. No deer wants to waste time picking through your scare yard if there are lush bushes next door.
- Use scare tactics. Try putting several metal posts 4- to 5-feet-tall around the garden. Attach a metal pie tin to the top of each pole with twine The least bit of wind makes the pine tins clack with a noise that the deer don't like.
- Clean up your yard. Don't leave acorns, rotted fruit, or leaves on your lawn; they are an open invitation to hungry deer.
- String blinking Christmas-tree lights around the perimeter of your garden. Keep them on from dusk to dawn.
- Put strong-smelling plants that deer don't like on the outside of your garden and smaller plants that need more protection on inside. Deer tend to stay away from poisonous plants, strongly flavored plants, and plants with hairy or furry leaves. See our chart with a list of deer-resistant plants.
- Put a transistor radio in your garden and keep it on all night. Switch the station when you think of it. The noise will keep deer away.
- Set up an inexpensive motion detector in your garden. When a deer triggers it, the noise will scare the deer back into the woods.
- Drape fabric netting over plants and (most) deer will stay clear.
- For a natural deterrent, scatter dog or human hair around your garden, or hang human hair in pantyhose or mesh bags in trees. Find human hair clippings at a barber shop.
- Scatter or hang bars of deodorant or cheap motel soap around the garden; if you leave the wrappers on, the soap will last longer. Irish Spring is particularly recommended.
- Mix rotten eggs in water (a dozen or so per 5 gallons) and spray around the perimeter of the garden.
- Mix 2 tablespoons of Tabasco sauce to a gallon of water and spray the foliage and fruit. If it rains, reapply.
- Spread kitty litter around the edge of the garden.
- Soak old socks in Lysol and spread around garden's perimeter and hang from a tree limb or stake.
- One reader, Rick, says, "Smelly old shoes can be used as a deterrent to deer. Just stick the shoes on top of tomato sticks, and watch the deer walk a wide circle around them. My shoes usually last from mid-May until about mid-August. That is, they keep the deer out of my garden for that long. This depends on the amount of rain and how much your shoes smell."
- For a real odor offensive, use predator urine; wolf and coyote urine are sold commercially in most garden stores.
- The most reliable method is to fence in your garden. Put up a strong, 8-foot-tall metal fence.