Deer Control Protection For Garden Plants

Romaine Lettuce

Deer Control for Gardens is Often a Necessity

If you’re a gardener and you have deer in your area, some method of deer control is in your future.

People are fascinated when they see deer in a field, especially when a deer or two is right in their backyard. However, for gardeners, it can be quite the opposite fascination…..errr frustration. While we all love the sight of a graceful deer, the sight of a deer in your garden is another matter. If you’ve got them in your area, they are all but impossible to keep away from your vegetable and flower plants.

It’s no wonder, that deer are attracted to your yard. Your flower and vegetable gardens offer the finest dining that a deer has ever seen. Just about everything you are growing is on their list of favorite foods.

Deer populations are difficult to control in suburban neighborhoods. Hunting is not allowed. The only way you can shoot a deer in suburbia is with a camera. Natural predators are absent. Consequently, gardeners have limited ways of protecting gardens from deer. We’ve got several ideas to help you protect your flowers, shrubs, and vegetable garden from these marauding free-loaders.

Did you know? Deer seem to eat almost anything. However, they do not like thorny plants. But they may still munch on the leaves, flowers, and growing tips. For example, they eat the tips of roses, flowers, and all, yet leave the mature, thorny stems untouched. They eat the tender tips of raspberry and blackberry plants, too.

Animal Deer, How to Control Garden Pests

Deer Control Methods and Tips

Here are several ideas to protect garden plants, trees, and shrubs:

Repellent Sprays- Repellent sprays can be an effective deer control. However, these sprays must be applied regularly. Re-apply them after significant rain. Use repellent sprays on trees, shrubs, and flower gardens. Do not use them on vegetable crops, or fruit trees. Repellent sprays can be expensive, and time-consuming.

Deer Fence- A fence is the most effective control method. Unfortunately, it is impractical for some applications. For example, fences take away the beauty of a flower garden. The fence needs to be several feet high and completely enclose the plant. Deer have no problem jumping over a 4′ chain link fence.

Did you know? Deer avoid double fencing, spaced 3-4 feet apart. They are afraid of getting caught between the two fences. Thus, they will move on in search of an easier meal.

Deer Netting Sheets and Tree Bags- Netting is a very effective deer control method. Pest netting is lightweight and easy to set up and take down. Shrub and tree netting can be used year-round, protecting trees and shrubs in winter from roaming deer. The green color lets this garden netting blend into the natural setting. Garden nylon mesh netting sheets can be used on larger trees, and as a cover for flowers and vegetables. It can also be used as a fence around an entire garden. 

Deer Control Tip: Don’t buy the single strand netting. It doesn’t last. Use long-lasting, strong, multi-strand, U/V protected pest netting. This type of netting will last for years.

Pest Netting 01

Use the deer control method that best suits your situation. A combination of methods sometimes works best.

Baby Powder- A few gardeners I know swear by this trick. Sprinkle baby powder lightly over the leaves. Deer leave the plant alone. Similar to other repellents, it needs to be frequently re-applied.

Fox Urine- Spray the urine of this natural predator around the outside border of the garden. Deer think a predator is in the area, and move on to your neighbor’s garden. Available at local garden stores, regular applications are required.

Question: How do they collect fox urine!? I do not want the job!

Homemade Deer Repellent Spray – Put 2 or 3 old eggs in a blender along with 2 Tablespoons of finely minced garlic, a generous dash or two of cayenne pepper & Tobasco sauce. Add 1 cup of water with a couple of drops of any cooking oil. Puree the ingredients and strain it through a cheesecloth. Then, put it into a spray bottle. Spray regularly, and after each rain, on shrubs and plants, you want to protect.

Human Hair- Deer recognize humans as natural predators. One sniff of a human, and off they bound. At least, that’s the theory for those who spread human hair around their garden. Barbershops and hair salons are a good source.

The Shotgun- Sorry Bambi lovers. Where allowed, this is an effective means of control. It’s not an option in urban or suburban areas.

Irish Spring Soap- Hang bars of Irish Spring soap around the garden. Does it work? Collect some used bars of soap and give it a try.

Fabric Softener Sheets– Fasten them to stakes around the garden. The scent deters them. A pumpkin farmer shared this tip.

Invisible Fishing line– String it around the garden, high and low. The deer can’t see it. When they run into it, they get confused and go elsewhere.

Deer with Pumpkin

Additional Resources

Deer resistant plants and deer resistant flowers – see our list of flowers and plants which deer find distasteful

Animal Garden Pest Control – How to control a variety of garden pests

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