Deer Resistant Vegetable Garden?

Shepherdstown, WV

My 4 small raised beds were just getting productive in 2011, my third year of gardening at our current home. Then the deer smashed down the double row of fence we put up after an invasion in 2010. They destroyed my beans and sampled the tomatoes, squash and peppers. They didn't bother any of the herbs.

I'm pretty discouraged, but I'll try once more, sticking to plants listed as less appealing to deer--potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, onions, and maybe squash and green peppers in containers on our deck. I also see marigolds and sunflowers on the list of less appealing plants, and I thought of including them.

Would it be better to interplant the herbs, veggies and flowers, or to use the herbs and flowers as a border with the veggies behind them, closer to the house and further from the lawn and woods? Does anyone have any experience with planting less appealing plants in a vegetable garden? I've tried most of the standard suggestions--dog hair, cat litter, blood meal, Irish Spring soap, various purchased deer repellants, and even using the garden beds as a urinal. Help!

Hilliard, FL(Zone 8b)

I have a friend that hangs socks filled with mothballs around his blueberry bushes to discourage deer. I do not know if it works or not, but he says it does. You have tried just about everything else, so maybe you could try this.

Also, planting flowers in the vegetable garden is a good idea, because they attract beneficial insects, such as pollinators.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

I don't know why deer don't jump into our garden, but have assumed it's because they don't like the smell of our dogs. There are certainly plenty of deer in our neighborhood. Hubby counted eight of them the other side of our fence a few days ago, and daughter and I frequently see them during our evening walks.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

I know exactly how upset you feel about the destruction from the deer, I live in Scotland and here the problem is every bit as bad, the only time there is no deer is when they have just had the babies and don't want to travel too far from where they left them.
Once the fawns are about 6 weeks old, the Mother brings them down closer to the house and it's like she is telling them to eat this and don't go close to her at the window, honest, I do think nature is smarter than we give it credit for.
I really don't know ant veg that the deer don't like, some days it's the salad stuff they eat, next it's the tender tops on the Brussels Sprouts, and don't even talk about Carrots, I am sure they smell them from a picking the evening before.

My only relief from the deer has been helped by throwing the white horticultural fleece over the beds, make sure it is not too tight so that when a little breeze comes, it lifts the fleece up and down because it is so light, I don't know if the movement of the fleece is the thing to distract them or when they see this light stuff they are definitely unsure about walking over it to reach the veg.
The good thing about this fleece is you can water while it is in place, it helps keep greenfly / black-fly etc off the plants but if you want stuff like Tomato's pollinated, then you have to allow the insects to get under the fleece or remove it in day hours. I seem to have more problems with the deer from late evening or very early morning, they are so used to us now that when I run out to try scare them, they just turn around and stare at me as if to say, "keep your hair on lady were just having breakfast" I'm sure they are becoming domesticated.
Another thing to try is those toys the kids play with that the wind blows them around and they make a slight noise, the thing with those is you have to keep moving them around or the deer will get used to them and ignore them.
Other things that I have heard works is lion droppings you can buy this on line I believe.
Wish I could help you more but good luck anyway. WeeNel.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

WeeNel - you don't need insects to pollinate tomatoes - they are pollinated by the wind.

I've seen photos of Fallow deer, but have never seen them in person.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Hi Honeybee, your right about the Tomato's being pollinated by the wind, mine don't as we live in a colder climate with a short season, I have to grow mine inside my greenhouse, I have to either help pollination by brush or shake the plants several times a day, also on really good days I get help from the insects as I have to throw the vents/ windows open or the plants can cook, ha, ha, ha.
I figured that covering the plants with fleece would prevent GOOD pollination if left over the plants without opening to allow for wind / insects but, I just said to someone else on the site, there is no wrong ways, just adapt to what suits your own needs, temp, soil, size of garden or whatever, gardening is supposed to be fun eh, thanks Honeybee, take good care and happy gardening.

Oh forgot to mention the deer I have are very Small, about as tall as a large dog, but so cute, Yeh right, anyway they are ROE deer, everything is as with other type of deer but these have a white heart shaped marking on their bums and at night, we can spot them buy the heart on show in the dark, how cute is that eh, then you find their foot prints all over the veg plot, so cute becomes shoot!!!! only joking. Weenel.

Arlington, TX

Would you be able to say plant something for the deer to eat Away from your garden?

Austin, TX(Zone 8b)

Veggiequeen - a 6 foot fence would help keep the deer out. Not that they couldn't jump it....they can....but usually only to escape something, not just to browse and eat.

One thing we have learned since moving to a deer area is they will eat most anything non-poisonous when they are really hungry. But they are just like humans who have preferences......they will eat what they like first, then move to what else is available.

There is one thing I have never seen them eat…..Rosemary. Rosemary can grow quite large here, and I have heard you can plant it around what you don’t want the deer to eat to discourage them, but I have not tried that. I do have several large Rosemary plants in our front yard….they are evergreen so we work them into the landscape, and use them when needed. Sage is another thing that they very rarely eat…….apparently they do not like smelly or fuzzy food. So maybe plant lots of onions, garlic, rosemary, and sage around your veggies.

But I would personally get a fence….we did.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Veggiequeen - once the deer attacked here we had no choice but to put up deer netting around the perimeter of the garden. It's attached to the ugly green poles, which are in turn attached to the posts for the fencing we have had for 20 years. All the herbs won't keep them out. They'll go behind a field of French tarragon just to get to the lilies on the outside of the vegetable garden.

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Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

WeeNel - I had never heard of Roe Deer, so I looked them up. I was born and raised in Great Britain and not heard of these.

I once saw a Key Deer on a trip to Key West, Florida.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Hi Honeybee, after finding ourselves in a deer area many years ago, we have made several searches about them here in UK and were really surprised to find there are about a dozen different types of deer roaming around different parts of UK.
As regarding trying to grow things away from my garden the deer will eat, unfortunately there is no strict diet they like, one day they eat all your Roses, next the Rose stumps then onto the Fruit bushes and possibly even the cabbages, peas or whatever takes their fancy that day.
Our garden is partly wooded so it,s a deers happy hunting ground and rightly so as, they roamed here long before human beings decided they were more important than wildlife, anyway, it would be absolutely impossible to fence off areas here as a) I live top of a sea cliff and deer can wander all along and up / down cliffs, b) we have a driveway that meanders up from the sea road to house and c) could never find enough cash to pay for fencing so we decided years ago to try live along with the deer and take care to try distract them if we see them, the problem now is, they almost accept us as friends rather than the mad woman who wants to scare them off, I don't allow shooting on our land either so you have probably came to the conclusion "what's your problem with deer" some years not too much damage, other years a wrecked garden, oh well if it was not deer we would be complaining about some other destruction eh Happy gardening. WeeNel.

Arlington, TX

WeeNel sounds like you live in a very picturesque area.

Pulaski, GA

We scatter dirty laundry on the ground around the garden. It works in this area to keep the deer away. After the rain washes out the human smell, we replace the "washed" laundry with fresh dirty laundry. Also, I planted zinnias around the perimeter of the garden. That helped, too.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Hi Milesdt, you made me laugh with your methods of deer deterrent's, my friend who lives a couple of miles from us has trained her mail kids never to pee in the toilet but to go outside and spray all over the garden, she reckons the human pee smell deters the deer from her garden but not sure IF she has many neighbours drop in for a coffee when they pass her way, she lives closer to civilization than I do.

I built up a picture in my head of me collecting the laundry and throwing it out the back door and my husband running after to get the loose change out of his pockets ha, ha, ha.
But you must be onto something as another friend said her hairdresser gave her a bucket of human hair and she hung it up in ladies stockings on branches and she swears she never saw deer for months, others have said go to the zoo and get lion dung (droppings) it works allegedly, cant really see my DH accepting me doing a round trip of 150 miles and returning with a bucket of s--- and asking him to sparingly drop it around the garden ha, ha, ha.

I have one of those huge rattles that kids take to football matches and twirl it around making an almighty noise so, I have been known to run outdoors after the deer with that apparatus, bang the windows with a wooden spoon, shout at them or even just wave a bright cloth at them, DH wants me certified, Grandkids want to enter me for the crazy grandmother pageant and my cat just wants me to stop in doors as I also scare the birds off.
One day there will be a simple way to make the deer move away but till then, we can only do our own thing eh.
Happy gardening you all. WeeNel.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Easybake, we do live in the most beautiful part of the West coast of Scotland and from all rooms in our home we have views over the ocean, woodland, mountains or Islands, and I know I am a very luck girl BUT here, there is an old saying,"you cant have beauty AND brains".
We are surrounded by beauty, wildlife, plants, veg, scenery etc, but we certainly were not smart enough to know that to have all that, you have to take the hard work to garden beside and atop a sea cliff, you have to learn to live by the rules of nature as you will never tame it for long and you have to be patient as you cant change the weather conditions. I am sure this is just like the waiting room for heaven !!!!!.
Best wishes, WeeNel.

Arlington, TX

Mabey you can get us a Picture of that view.

Ithaca, NY

Can deer do this? When we returned from a trip, my climbing rose bush had disappeared, no trace of the limbs. It looks almost like it has been pruned. And my adjacent clematis, previously unappetizing, was almost destroyed, but with the typical look of deer predation.

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Plantersville, TX(Zone 9a)

I know what you mean when people do things for beauty instead of necessity. We built our house in the woods, trees everywhere. Why, we wondered would someone cut every tree down, built a house, & then plant trees. Well, our beautiful wooded lawn is costing us lots of money, because the tall pine trees are dying from the draught. It costs $500 a tree to cut down, & we have had 3 cut so far. We might have beauty, but its costing us.

Cascade, VA(Zone 7a)

What is this "deer resistant vegetable garden" you speak of? ;) lol

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I went out and bought a slingshot, planning to chase deer and squirrels away by pelting them with pine cones and acorns.

But I never had the heart to do it!

For a while I felt OK shooting acorns at squirrels because I could NEVER hit them, but then I realized that I was only feeding them, and they probably put up statues worshiping me.

Clearly Nature is smarter than I am, but some days it seems like I'm not even giving Her much competition.

Springfield, OR(Zone 8a)

Veggie queen, what kind of fencing did you use in 2011? How high? How far apart?

Could you tell how the defeated it? As in, did they leap cleanly over it? Walk right through dragging posts behind them? Eat netting?

Have you tried cattle panels?

I hope you find a way to reach an equilibrium. It would be such a shame to have you give up on your veggies. Good luck; I'm rooting for you, and for the deer to find easier dining.


Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

You could try one of those "scare crows". It sprays water and is activated by movement. A friend of mine says it works great on his grandkids. Lol I've seen them online but I would think you could find them locally.

Contra Costa County, CA(Zone 9b)

vegiequeen never came back, even to say thanks for the ideas.

leslie5 brought this thread back to life, but is asking about roses and clematis.

leslie, better to start your own thread, this is the vegetable forum. And yes, deer can strip a plant, even one that is on the deer resistant list. Deer cannot read that list.

Austin, TX(Zone 8b)

We have a 6 foot wrought iron fence to keep deer away from our veggies and flowers.

The deer in this area hang out on the front yard.
But veggies......and flowers are behind a fence they just don't bother with.

This way we all live in harmony and we like the deer, instead of cursing they.

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This thread made me smile. I got very angry with the deer last year, so I bought one of those electronic scarecrow thingys and it worked quite well even though I had very poor water pressure. The clicking and movement I think did the trick. We had placed it in the very center of a very large garden. On one end my husband also put up a scarecrow as well. Oddly enough, the deer only ate the squash etc that was planted in the unprotected end of the garden. Oh, and the bear enjoyed my pumpkins on that end as well!

Deer have jumped into my dog's fenced in area to eat in the very early part of spring when that is the only grass to be had. She was in the house when they did that. Wish I could have found my camera as I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it. Of course, they could have just seen my dog the day before and thought...REALLY? You call that a dog? (she weighs 15lbs).

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Hummm. Deer love our Serranos, my sunflowers, my roses, guess they like the exotic salads. Moles havent bothered my rosemary, and I dont believe the deer have bothered those either. White plastic sacks tied to posts work a short time, white being the warn others colors, and the motion and snaps work until they think they know you. They just check to see how interested in getting up is the dog, and if she lays back down they think they are invited. We cruise thru and chat onto old threads quite often

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