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Use this easy guide for lots of tactics regarding How to Keep Deer Out of the Garden!
One of the problems with having a nice food garden, is that deer and other pests enjoy it right along with you. If you have deer getting in the garden, read about what we have been doing to get them to stay out! I work far too hard to get big garden harvests, to let animals get in there and take it away. Here’s one way that we are keeping deer out of the garden.
Since we no longer have a dog here on the property, the deer have been getting into the yard again. Especially starting in the early spring, since this is a time of high stress for deer.
They love to munch on our apple trees and other fruit trees, but I sure don’t want them getting into the actual veggie gardens. In one night, one or two deer could do a lot of damage and the work we have done would be gone, just like that.
There are several deer repellents on the market, but I am after something more permanent than that. Sort of a “set it and forget it” type of solution.
How to Keep Deer Out of The Garden
A friend swears by using yellow rope, something she has done for years. Apparently the deer don’t like the color yellow? I am following her suggestion and asked Graham to cut some 2 x 4’s that we could screw onto the garden posts already in place. He did that for me and he also drilled 3 holes in each board.
We started stringing out the rope. Here’s a good money saving hint if you need to buy rope. Never buy just 20 feet or 50 feet. You will pay a lot more when you just buy part of the roll.
Always buy the full roll, and then make sure you get a good discount on it! I did that, following Graham’s advice and saved 30% on a full rope.
Believe me, you will find a million other uses for rope on the homestead, whether it’s for tying down heavy duty tarps, using when fishing or some other project being worked on.
We strung the rope through the drilled holes and went around the garden. Then around again. Then around once more. So here’s what it looks like out there now.
Those targets you can see on the garden posts? They’re for target shooting. Graham uses them to sight in his guns and it doesn’t hurt to be able to do some safe target shooting when the kids come for a visit.
Adding Chicken Wire
Once we got all the yellow rope strung up, we went around and added heavy duty chicken wire to the bottom of all the fence panels surrounding the main garden. This is to keep small pests out like rabbits.
We have seen a lot of rabbits this year and you know how it goes with rabbits. If you see one, you know there are at least 100 others out there!
So hopefully we are all set to ward off the deer and the rabbits. I am finding quite a few snakes in the garden though and although I know they are probably eating a lot of mice, I just don’t like snakes. I’ve been know to walk into the garden going the long way around, just so I don’t have to walk by a snake. What a sissy!
If you are looking for ways to keep deer out of the garden, give the yellow rope trick a try. You can read The Yellow Rope – an update to see how our garden did after the rope was up.
How to Keep Deer Out of Your Garden – Other Options
Using Deer Repellent Sprays
While these sprays are a more temporary solution, they’re also effective deer repellents. Spray the repellent around the plants you want to keep the deer away from and the scent will keep them away! Apparently, many of these spray deer repellents remind the deer of decaying animals (some are made with rotten eggs) and dissuade them from eating your plants.
If you prefer a less smelly solution, there are certain soaps, like Irish Spring, that have properties that deer dislike. Who likes the taste of soap? Take a couple bars of soap and carve up some shavings to sprinkle around the garden. Using hot pepper like cayenne can also deter deer. These deer sprays use hot cayenne pepper as one of their ingredients.
Just be sure to avoid products that could be potentially harmful to pets or people, especially if you’re growing a lot of food to be eaten!
Using Deer Resistant Plants
There are natural deer deterrents you can grow in your garden, as well as some tactics for managing your plants that will prevent deer from feeling comfortable grazing there.
Here are some plants that are good to grow as a natural barrier in order to prevent deer from coming into your garden:
- Garlic – the strong aroma will be undesirable to the deer.
- Lavender – though we might like the smell, apparently deer don’t as much!
- Mountain Mint
- Lamb’s Ear – Has a texture that deer don’t particularly like.
The reason these plants function well is for a few different reasons. Some of them, deer just don’t like the scent. They also won’t want to walk through vegetation with strong odors, as that will make them more of a target for any predators. And finally, strong scents can cover up the delicious aromas of fresh vegetables and fruits that can attract deer.
Perimeter Planting to Discourage Deer
You can also find ways to arrange your plants naturally so you can keep an eye on things. Plant the ones with strong aromas around the edges and keep the ones you want to protect closer to your eyes. That way, if a deer or other animal does manage to get into your garden, you’ll be able to see it and scare them off.
Another thing to try is planting shrubs or other plants that grow prickly foliage on the outer edges of your garden. This will act as another natural deterrent!
Also, keep the leaves of your plants trimmed and the landscape nice and open. If a deer feels like your garden is a good predator guard, it will feel safe there. Making your vegetable gardens more open areas with less places to hide will make it so deer feel less inclined to stop and munch on your plants!
You can learn more about deer proofing your garden with any of these books.
If you really mean business and have the resources for it, you could put up a deer fence around the perimeter of your garden, like we did. Built correctly, a tall fence will keep deer away from your plants (though it may not be enough to block other animals). Aim for a fence that’s anywhere from 6 to 10 feet tall.
In some cases, the deer might be quite persistent. Instead of wood or wire fences, it may be helpful to use electric fences, which will definitely deter deer from coming into your garden. Just be sure to check your local zoning laws before committing to electric fencing, as it’s not allowed everywhere.
For something less invasive and visible, fishing line can also be strung in the garden. The deer won’t be able to see it well, and walking into it will frighten them away. This is a great option when you want something inexpensive that won’t affect the beauty of your garden.
Using Scare Tactics
Another potential solution is to lean into scare tactics and install sprinklers that have a motion-activated function. The water won’t harm the deer, but the sudden spray from a motion-activated sprinkler like these will most likely scare them off and prevent them from eating your plants. Plus, it will keep your garden beds hydrated!
You could also hang wind chimes; the sound will make the deer uneasy and less likely to approach.
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originally published 2014; latest update October 2022