Deer are beautiful and majestic creatures that belong in the wild — but they're also the bane of many gardeners' existences thanks to their insatiable appetites. Ever wake up in the morning after spending the whole of the previous day gardening only to find that deer have demolished your plants overnight? That alone can be enough to make a person not want to garden anymore. Luckily, there are a few ways to deter deer from making a feast out of your plants.
Choose the Right Plants
One of the first things you can do to prevent deer from wreaking havoc in your garden is to choose your plants more carefully. You'll want to cultivate varieties that deer really don’t like to eat. Some plants that they're pickier about eating include begonia, rhododendron, bee balm, dahlia, butterfly weed, foxglove, poppy, wisteria, wild columbine, sweet alyssum, bleeding heart, lamb’s ear, amsonia, coreopsis, evening primrose, purple coneflower, goldenrod, lavender yucca, thyme, and mint. Next time you're strolling through the aisles of your favorite gardening store or checking out gardening products online, read the information on the plant labels to see if they are deer-resistant or repellent.
There’s a good chance that you feel a little annoyed at the thought of not being able to plant what you want because of deer, but you can often try to create a deer-free zone by planting deer-resistant plants as companion plants to your favorites. For instance, you can create a living barrier to the tastier plants by planting herbs or other deer-repellent varieties in front of them. It’s not going to guarantee 100-percent safety from hungry deer, but it’s a good start.
A word of caution: Deer-resistant and repellent plants can still be put on the menu if the deer is unable to find another food source. A hungry deer is going to do what it must to survive.
You can keep deer away from your garden by employing some of the same tactics you'd use to repel birds. For instance, deer don’t like objects that move. It goes against their instincts to pass by something that moves because it might be a hungry predator. Try putting up streamers or flags around your property, as they'll move in the breeze. Even wind chimes and other movable garden ornaments can work in a pinch. Things like these can often keep deer off of your property for at least a short period of time. Just keep in mind that this often doesn’t work as a long-term solution. To extend their use, make an effort to move them around regularly so that the deer don’t get complacent and ignore them.
Fencing and Netting
Deer aren’t fond of stepping into small spaces because it makes them feel uncomfortable and unable to flee if a problem arises. Putting up a low fence around a smaller garden can be a good way to prevent deer damage. Netting is another popular option, as deer don’t like getting tangled up in it, and it can even help keep other pests (i.e. birds and bugs) away. The one problem with netting, depending on the size you choose, is that it could also result in some non-harmful animals getting trapped. When this happens, you’ll have to release the animal by either cutting the netting around it or calling your local wildlife center for help. Stringing up some fishing line is another good way to keep deer out.
Household Deer Repellents
You can also try making or buying a deer-repellent spray to keep those pesky deer away. The recipes you would use to make your own often employ garlic, hot sauce, eggs, and other things with unpleasant smells to keep deer away from your yard and tasty plants. The sprays that you purchase also rely on smells to keep them away, such as blood and predator urine.
Be sure to use the spray as directed to ensure that it'll work its magic on keeping the deer out of your yard. One of the biggest problems with these repellents is that their scents often fade or are washed away over time. This means you’ll have to reapply them as often as directed on their instructions and after heavy rainfall. To keep your garden safe, be prepared to use these repellents often.
Of course, there are also some other household items you can use to deter deer from coming into your yard and treating your garden like a buffet. One relies on both scent and movement: string up some scented soap along part of your yard. The soap bars can move on the string, and their heavy scent will only further help keep the deer out. Some people swear by putting a little used kitty litter around the border of their gardens to keep larger pests away. Others let their pet dogs out as much as possible. There are even some recipes that call for hair clippings in them to emit the scent of people.
Keeping deer out of the yard and garden is essential for any gardener’s peace of mind. Planting flowers and plants that they don’t typically like to eat is just one way of keeping your garden as safe as possible. You can also use deer deterrents, netting, fencing, and scented sprays to keep them out. We have a feeling you won’t mind your natural neighbors as much when they aren't destroying your hard work.