Gardening with Deer

Deer will eat where they want, what they want, when they want, especially if it was an expensive plant. And I have never seen a deer reading any of our “deer-resistance” lists. So we will have to use other techniques, suggestions, and solutions to direct the deer away from your special gardens. You must determine how much deer damage you can live with.

New, spring growth is very tasty and nutritious. A gardener can create this same tasty plant throughout the growing season by constantly fertilizing and supplying more then adequate watering. A plant that is allowed to stress a bit will not be so tasty to our four-legged guests.

Caution must be taken with all deer resistant plant lists, especially those from other areas. As the environment is forever changing, deer are always adjusting to the availability of their food sources during the year.

Like all wildlife, deer are a wary creature and will avoid areas where they feel threatened or insecure. Sudden noises, barking dogs, dark corners, are unsettling.

Techniques, Suggestions, and Solutions

Below are possibilities to aid in the controlling of deer damage. Some will work and others might not. Everything depends on the education level of your particular deer herd.


Plant deer resistant plants.

Aromatic and strong flavored foliage has been shown to have some deterrence effect.

Certain leaf textures seem to deter nibbling deer. Try fuzzy, rough, or tough leaves.

Plant your delicious plants amongst deer resistant plants for added protection.

Plant deer favorite food away from your choice plants as a “deer trap”. They will eat their fill out of site and not bother to come in closer. At least that is the hope.

Fences, Hedges, and Plantings

Deer will not jump where they can not see to land. Deer shy away from dense plantings, tall/thick masses, and firm or thorny branches. Dense plantings of shrubs will make it difficult for them to see where they can place a foot safely. Mixed plantings of trees and shrubs will spread (minimize) any nibbling around so as to protect individual plants.

Building an arbor system on top of your fence will also deter jumping. A wide trellis overhanging into the yard covered with vines will be too wide for them to jump over.

Barriers and Screens

A highly prized plant can be fenced separately.

Trunks of trees can be wrapped in fencing to deter deer from rubbing the bark off.

Build an 8-10’ tall wire deer fence.

Build an 8-10’ tall open fence with an artistic eye. Deer can not jump through an 8” opening such as cable between posts.

Motion sensor hooked up to a sprinkler.

Sometimes intermittent noise will “scare” deer.


Repellent-if not too hungry-1 egg, 8 ½ shells of water, cayenne pepper or Tabasco, blend, then spray, reapply after rains.


Hang CD’s on branches. Light will flash off of the shiny sides as it swings and twirls in the breeze.

Stretch clear fishing line across open spaces to “spook” the deer as they walk into something they can not see.

Family dogs help, especially when out at night when the deer activities is higher.

Remember: Deer are smart and will learn from their experiences. Rotate or move mechanical devices sporadically so they will not get use to a certain location or pattern. Do the same with repellents. Rotate through different products, solutions, or home remedies, as deer can become used to something.

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