Best Tips for a Deer-Resistant Garden

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Best Tips for a Deer-Resistant Garden

Our customers share their best tips for creating a deer resistant garden.

15 tips for a deer resistant garden PLUS 3 bonus tips

There are many methods for discouraging deer from dining on your garden and landscape plants. We invited customers to share their most successful ideas. Read on for Wayside GardensÔÇÖ best deer resistant garden tips provided by you! Here are the highlights:

  • Adjust your approach so deer donÔÇÖt get accustomed to your techniques.
  • Hanging Irish Spring soap around the perimeter of your garden has been found to be a successful deer deterrent.
  • Steer clear of ornamentals. Instead, plant these hardy plants for a Mediterranean style, deer resistant garden: achillea, agastache, lavender, nepeta, perovskia, and salvia.
  • Surround these garden plants with aromatic plants like lavender, and most importantly, scented geraniums.
  • BONUS TIP: Leave the withered geraniums in the ground over the winter. Even frosted and blackened, the scented geraniums are still pungent enough to keep deer away over the winter.
  • Use an 8-foot deer fence, with 4" squares of a polyurethane wire which does not look obtrusive.
  • BONUS TIP: To ward off rabbits and groundhogs, cover the bottom three feet of the fence with chicken wire, with one foot of this wire extended flat along the ground and secured with 8" spikes.
  • Bury pots of fragrant herbs like mint and rosemary surrounding the garden bed as well as interspersed in the bed if it is a larger area.
  • BONUS TIP: Leave about an inch of the pots above ground so the mint will not spread and take over the flower bed.
  • For early spring plants, daffodils work very well in keeping deer away.
  • Since deer do not like strong scents, when planting new trees and shrubs, take strips from old t-shirts and tie them to the upper portion of the plant and spray them with cheap perfume. Reapply periodically throughout the season to keep the scent strong and annoying to deer.
  • Use obsolete CD-type disks and hang them with heavy fishing line around the perimeter of my yard and strawberry garden. The reflections from the spinning CDs seem to scare away the deer, birds, and other critters.
  • Hide plants that attract deer in the back of the garden and behind things they don't like onions, most herbs, and hot pepper plants.
  • Put a 5-foot fence up to enclose a small garden (25 ft by 30 ft) for the plants they love, like black-eyed peas. The deer won't jump the fence because, according to my experienced neighbor, they won't jump into a small, enclosed area.
  • Install solar-powered night lights with a screw-in motion detector. The lights will scare the deer away.
  • Make a mixture of very hot Tabasco sauce, eggs, and milk (even better if the eggs and milk are spoiled) and spray with a pump sprayer in the garden. Focus the spray on the perimeter plants in a large bed. It isn't usually necessary to spray each plant.

Thank you to these customers for their ideas! Comments were excerpted above. And remember that the key is to keep changing your approach so the deer don't get used to whatever technique you're using at the time. Master Gardeners routinely advise people to steer clear of ornamentals that are known to be 'deer irresistible" in their area. While this won't guarantee that your plants won't become deer fodder, it certainly is smart not to plant their favorite dishes. Plant achillea, agastache, lavender, nepeta, perovskia, and salvias as the primary plants for a hardy Mediterranean border. The plants will thrive, and the deer will be disinterested and dine elsewhere.

Since deer like roses, try planting scented geraniums in front of them. And leave the plants in the ground over the winter instead of pulling them out. Pelargonium scented geraniums are tender perennials often grown annuals but they can retain their scent enough to keep the deer away over the winter. Replace them with new plants in the spring.


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Customer's Tips In Their Own Words

We have a very nice size Vegetable garden, 18'x25', and a small Formal Rose garden, 9'x18'. Since they are our garden rooms in our back yard, we protect our garden with an 8-foot deer fence, which has 4" squares of a polyurethane wire and does not look obtrusive. This has kept the deer out successfully. We also have the bottom three feet covered with chicken wire, with one foot of this wire extended flat along the ground and secured with 8" spikes. This keeps the bunnies out as well as groundhogs, which tend to dig a lot.

For plants outside our fenced areas, here's how we take care of the problem:
We plant buried pots of fragrant plants like mint (rosemary or similar fragrant herbs will also work) surrounding the garden bed as well as interspersed in the bed if it is a larger area. We leave about an inch of the pots above ground so the mint will not spread and take over the flower bed. For early spring plants, Daffodils work very well in keeping deer out. Daffodils are like poison to deer so they stay away!

Courtesy of Sarah K. from NJ


Sure-fire deer deterrant:

Go to your nearest zoo; request a large supply of the manure from the LION'S lair ÔÇö the fresher the better! Scatter the manure about the garden ÔÇö add some periodically ÔÇö to keep the scent present! Deer will avoid it like the plague!

Courtesy of AJ S. from MO


Deer do not like strong scents, so when planting new trees and shrubs I take strips from old t-shirts and tie them to the upper portion of the plant and spray them with cheap perfume. Reapply periodically throughout the season to keep the scent strong and annoying to deer. On top of that, you get to use all of the perfume you've been gifted.

Courtesy of Barb S. from WI


I use the CD-type disks and hang them with heavy fishing line around the perimeter of my yard and strawberry garden. The reflections from the spinning CDs seem to scare the deer, birds, and other critters from invading areas where they aren't wanted. The Cds are durable enough that I haven't had to replace any for the last 9 years!

Courtesy of Rhonda D. from PA


Well, I know it sounds kind of strange, but I use coffee to repel deer. I found, by accident, that if I take coffee grounds that have been stored in a plastic bag for at least a week and spread the grounds where I do not want the deer, it seems to repel them. However, I have yet to figure how long these grounds are good for as a repellant or how frequently I need to "refresh" the application. One would think if you apply the grounds too often that it may cause mold or fungus, and probably some plants are more susceptible. The storage of the coffee grounds for 7 to 10 days in a bag, wet, makes them pretty stinky. Perhaps that is what repels the deer and such.

Courtesy of Janice F.


I have found the best way to keep deer away from my plants and shrubbery is with a large jar of chopped garlic in oil! I take teaspoons of garlic and throw it on the ground around my plantings and the deer stay away. It is safe for the garden and inexpensive too. Try it!

Courtesy of Karin D. from NJ


I "disguise" the plants the deer like by "hiding" them behind things they don't like (for example: onions, most herbs, and hot pepper plants). Plant their favorites way in the back (or middle). I also put a 5-foot fence up to enclose a small garden (25 ft by 30 ft) for the plants they dearly love, like black-eyed peas. The deer won't jump the fence because, according to my experienced neighbor farmer friend, they won't jump into a small enclosed area. These ideas have worked for me. And I have tried a lot of other suggestions. I live near the Uwharrie National Forest in Randolph County, N.C.

Courtesy of Mary C. from NC


To repel deer in areas of my garden susceptible to "deer-munching", I installed solar-powered night lights with a screw-in motion detector. When the deer approach, the motion sensor detects their movement and turns on the light. This scares the deer away. One may program the motion detector to shut off automatically after a pre-determined short period of time.

Courtesy of Michael S. from VA


I make a mixture of very hot Tabasco sauce, eggs, and milk (even better if the eggs and milk are spoiled) and spray with a pump sprayer in my gardens. It is especially important to hit the perimeter plants ÔÇö in a large bed, it isn't usually necessary to spray each and every plant. I have to say that this has NEVER failed me. I work on a large private golf course with very large ornamental shrub and flower beds. A few years ago, our fall plantings of mums and ornamental cabbage/kale were being eaten every night, and we were replanting every morning. Then we tried this mixture and IT TRULY WORKS! I might mention that the deer were even eating my narcissus, so please give this "recipe" a try.

Courtesy of Sue B. from PA


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