If you live in an area with lots of deer, you know how much damage they can do to your garden. It can be infuriating to find green nubs where your once healthy and thriving plants used to be. But, there are some tips and tricks that will keep them from eating your plants and vegetable gardens.
So what’s the best way to keep deer out of the garden? We’ve done a lot of research on how to keep deer out of the garden, and here are a few of our favorites:
Don’t Tempt Them!
It may be hard to avoid garden plants that deer love. If you’ve got a vegetable garden, you’ve probably got something delicious they’re jealous of. In addition to fruits and vegetables, deer love tulips, azaleas, pansies, hostas, and violas. If you can, save these plants for closer to the house, because deer are less likely to venture too close to your home where humans are.
And, while you are at it, ditch your bird feeder, too. If you’re having a serious deer problem, this is one of the first things you can do to keep from attracting them. If you can’t bear to give up your bird feeder and favorite plants, though, take heart. There’s still plenty you can do to keep them away.
Pick Deer-Resistant Garden Plants
Deer can be picky eaters that avoid plants simply based on their texture. Deer turn their noses up at many plants with fuzzy, spiny, leathery, or fibrous foliage. They also tend to avoid plants with heavy fragrances, including some of our favorite herbs. Sage, lavender, oregano, mint, and dill can overwhelm a deer’s sense of smell and discourage them from eating up your vegetables. They also prefer flowering and woody plant shoots over grasses.
Choose border plants from among these plants to make your garden unappealing from the outside.
Limit Access With Fencing
A physical barrier is one of the best ways to keep deer out of the garden. You can choose individual fencing around various plants, or enclose larger areas. Remember that they can jump 8 feet, so the taller and more inconvenient, the better for keeping deer out.
Black mesh deer netting is a good choice. Put strings or streamers on the fence so that the deer know where it is while they’re learning the new lay of the land.
Stockade fencing is also a great choice because it blocks visibility. Deer don’t want to jump over the fence blind. They also won’t be tempted by the sight (and smell) of your lovely garden.
Double fence layers can keep deer from jumping into the garden. They’ll avoid jumping the first fence if they think they’ll be trapped. You can erect shorter fencing (5’ or so) if you choose this method.
Electric fences can be useful deterrents for deer, but they also can shock humans and other animals as well. This is an option that requires some extra care. Make sure that you follow local laws and instructions carefully if you choose an electric fence.
Scare Deer Away
Deer are skittish. Unfamiliar sounds, scents, and sights can keep them away. Windchimes, human hair, and bars of soap all will make a deer think twice about coming over. A scarecrow can trick deer into thinking a human is hanging out in the garden.
However, the deer might get wise to these tactics over time. Deer in urban and suburban settings can be especially street-wise, so you may have to step up your scare tactics. Motion-activated sprinklers are a great choice for scaring deer away. Choose something that will work in the nighttime as well as the day.
As we’ve learned, even the most experienced gardener can run into deer problems. They love a lot of the same plants we do, and they’re able to jump over tall fences. They can also do a lot of damage, really quickly. Luckily, humans are smarter and more resourceful than deer. You’ve got this!
Written by Teresa Chandler