Deer-proof­ing a gar­den

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Cre­at­ing a beau­ti­ful and boun­ti­ful gar­den is a pop­u­lar pas­time for peo­ple all across the coun­try. It is im­por­tant to keep in mind that aes­thet­i­cally ap­peal­ing plants may be ap­pe­tiz­ing to area wildlife, in­clud­ing deer. Those who do not want their gar­dens to turn into all-youcan-eat buf­fets for deer, rab­bits and other wild an­i­mals can take a more proac­tive ap­proach to gar­den­ing.

Deer are op­por­tunists who will no doubt see your gar­den as a salad bar ripe with all of their fa­vorite foods. As hous­ing de­vel­op­ments con­tinue to en­croach on the nat­u­ral habi­tats of deer and other an­i­mals, th­ese an­i­mals are be­com­ing more vis­i­ble. Deer may not be able to for­age for food ef­fec­tively in their smaller, nat­u­ral sur­round­ings, or they may be­come ac­cus­tomed to the “easy pick­ings” they find in neigh­bor­hood yards. Ei­ther way, you may en­counter a deer in or around your area.

Keep­ing deer at bay in­volves some work and main­te­nance on the part of a home­owner. There are safe and hu­mane meth­ods to re­pelling deer, or at least block­ing ac­cess to the plants worth pro­tect­ing. Here are the main ways to deer-proof a gar­den.

Fence It

Fences are one way to de­ter deer from en­ter­ing a yard and din­ing on your gar­den. Keep in mind that deer can jump fences that are quite tall, but they have to be es­pe­cially mo­ti­vated to jump an eight-foot-tall fence. Still, they tend to be weary about scal­ing a fence when they can­not see what is on the other side. There­fore, if you are fenc­ing out deer, choose a fence that cam­ou­flages the gar­den well and com­pletely en­closes the area to be pro­tected. If you do not want the fence to be solid, con­sider putting stakes or thorny plants within the gar­den so that the deer will hes­i­tate to jump into the gar­den.

Scare Them

Deer are nat­u­rally skit­tish around peo­ple, but over time they can be­come quite com­pla­cent around hu­man be­ings. Once a deer de­cides that some­thing will not present a threat, the deer can adapt to its pres­ence.

Mo­tion-ac­ti­vated de­vices may not work, nor the pres­ence of pets. Preda­tor urine is typ­i­cally an ef­fec­tive way at keep­ing deer at bay. Bot­tled coy­ote urine can be quite ef­fec­tive, al­though hu­man urine may work as well. Reap­ply­ing the prod­uct weekly around the plants is a good idea.

Re­pel the Deer

There are many or­ganic or chem­i­cally-based prod­ucts on the mar­ket that deer may find of­fen­sive to the taste or smell.

Hot pep­per, sul­fur and eggs or even the use of soapy wa­ter have been suc­cess­ful in cer­tain in­stances. The use of blood meal or even hu­man hair around the gar­den may re­pel the deer and keep them on a dif­fer­ent for­ag­ing path. How­ever, re­mem­ber that any deer that is very hun­gry may ig­nore un­pleas­ant tastes or smells for a quick bite.

Change Plants

If other food sources are avail­able, there are some species of plants and trees that deer will avoid. Fill­ing your gar­den with th­ese plants can help you main­tain a beau­ti­ful, al­beit un­tasty, en­vi­ron­ment for deer. When plant­ing an­nu­als, se­lect among:

• Alyssum

• Be­go­nias

• Cal­en­dula

• Celosia

• Dianthus

• Fox­glove

• Gera­ni­ums

• Pars­ley

• Poppy

• Snap­drag­ons

In terms of peren­ni­als, plant th­ese items once, and deer could stay away:

• Ager­a­tum

• Anemone

• Astibe

• Bearded iris

• Cat­mint

• Honey­suckle

• Lan­tana

• Monks­hood

• Rock rose

• Rose­mary

• Soap­wort

• Wis­te­ria

Plant th­ese herbs along­side flow­ers for even more pro­tec­tion:

• Chives

• Eu­ca­lyp­tus

• Gar­lic

• Mint

• Thyme

• Win­ter­green

Gar­den­ers who use a com­bi­na­tion of meth­ods to keep deer out of their yards and gar­dens may have a higher suc­cess rate at de­ter­ring th­ese an­i­mals.


There are safe and hu­mane meth­ods to re­pelling deer, or at least block­ing ac­cess to the plants worth pro­tect­ing.

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