How to Keep Deer Out of Garden: 11 Methods You Can Use

Deer eat vegetation, from shrubs to leaves and grass, and they will sometimes find their way to your gardens if they can’t find what they need elsewhere. If you have a garden, you should figure out how to keep deer away. Why?

Nothing is more frustrating than putting all your effort into growing plants in your garden, only for a deer to eat them in one fell swoop.

It is not a pleasant experience, and it will happen again if you don’t do something about it. 

You can do several things to keep deer out of your garden, and we will discuss the most effective solutions. Combine these ideas for a more robust defense against deer invasion. Let’s dive in!

1.) Build a Tall Fence

tall fence to keep deer out of garden

Nothing screams,” you are not wanted here, keep away!” like a tall fence. Oh well, deer may not understand English, but they understand the language of a tall fence.

Deer cannot leap or fly over it, and you would have won the battle even before they got into the garden. How tall should this fence be?

Ideally, you want to install up to a 12-feet fence to ensure deers are kept out. A shorter fence may not be good enough to keep them away. If the deer are hungry (which is enough motivation), they could jump over a shorter fence.

What if you don’t want a 12-feet fence? Too much?

An option is to build a shorter fence and plant deer-resistant trees around the fence. This defensive combo should keep those bad boys out for good.

Also, ensure this fence stretches across the length and breadth of your garden. Don’t leave open spaces or blind spots because deer can discover them and get inside your garden. 

Other forms of fencing that could help keep deer away include electric fences, stockade fences, and cattle guards.

2.) Plant Trees Deer Hate

This is another brilliant and effective solution to your deer problem. Deer enjoy eating plants, but not all plants are as inviting.

As there are mosquito-repellent plants, we have deer-resistant plants. Even if you never want these plants in your garden, it is a small sacrifice for the protection they will give your garden.

Which plants are deer resistant?

Generally, deer don’t like plants with the following features:

Plants With Fuzzy or Hairy Foliage

Deer will avoid plants with hairs on their leaves because they don’t like the feel on their tongues. Get plants like Lady’s Mantle, Lamb’s Ear, Dusty Miller, Green Goddess, etc.

Plants With Toxic Leaves

Daffodils are toxic to deer

Deer avoid plants that make them sick, the same way we avoid foods that give us allergic reactions. These plants include Daffodils, Lupine, Century, and many other plants.

Be careful with this preventive measure because some plants are toxic to people and pets.

Plants WIth Spines/Spikes on Their Leaves

Deer can tell which plants have spines and generally avoid them. Spines are hard and sharp and therefore threatening to intruding deer.

Plants in this category include Cardoon, Globe Thistle, Blackberry, Common Holly, Agave, etc.

Other categories of plants deer avoid – are plants with strong scents (Mountain Mint, Lantana) and plants with leaves that are difficult to digest (Peonies).

3.) Use Deer Repellents

This is another viable way to keep deer away. If you don’t want to go through the stress of mounting a fence or planting trees you don’t want; deer repellent products are a great alternative.

How can you use deer repellent to keep deer from your garden?

The first tip is to get a deer product that is proven to work. Read reviews and ask other farmers or gardeners who have used the product.

In addition to getting their feedback, consider asking for any special techniques they used that worked for them.

Once you get the repellent, let’s see how often to apply them.

Deer repellents are not an “apply once, and that’s it” solution; make it a routine. We recommend once every week to ensure the solution stays potent. If you’re concerned that you might forget, set a reminder on your phone or ask somebody to remind you.

Now you know how often to apply them; let’s see what plants to prioritize.

It is best to focus on plants that are not natural deer resistants. Why? They have no protection against deer. Use the deer repellent to give these plants the protection they need. And remember to do it consistently (every week) because that’s the only way to guarantee results.

Lastly, consider getting putrefied egg-based deer repellents because studies have shown they work best. If you are short on cash to buy the products, you can make them yourself. DIY is an inexpensive option but ensure you learn how to do it properly.

4.) Surround Your Garden With Rocks

Some animals avoid rocky areas; deer are one of them. Building a rock perimeter around your garden will keep deer away.

This tactic works so well that modern zoos use it instead of building complicated structures like fences or investing in other expensive deterrents.

To get this rock thing to work, ensure that there are rocks everywhere; don’t leave flat areas that deer can comfortably pass through.

It would be best if you also had different sizes of rocks, so there is a rock to fit in any space. 

5.) Scare Them Away With Motion Activated Devices

Another option to keep deer out of your garden is to scare them away. No, you won’t be the one waiting outside to scream at the top of your voice, and you don’t have to wake up at night to check on the garden occasionally; that’s impracticable.

You need to invest in motion-activated devices, like sprinklers.

These devices notice movements wherever you install them and unleash the full force of its wrath, a sharp burst of water. This experience will scare even a human being, let alone a deer.

The great thing about these sprinklers is that the water goes in the direction of the motion, right where the deer is. And you don’t have to lift a finger; heck, you could be asleep when this drama unfolds.

Some tips to consider: Go for sprinklers that are good at recognizing actual movements, not moving foliage, because that would be counter-productive.

Also, get sprinklers with infrared sensors because they can work at night when you need them most.

Lastly, get a bigger sprinkler if you have a big garden, and store all sprinklers properly in preparation for winter. If the winter cold freezes the hoses, your sprinkler becomes useless.

The video above is a different kind of motion-activated device. Instead of using water, these gadgets use a high-pitched sound. Once the deer is in range, the sound is annoying/startling enough for them to leave.

6.) Unleash the Dogs

It doesn’t even have to be a guard dog; a dog that can bark will do fine. As soon as the deer hears the “hoof,” they know to keep off. Unless your dog’s place is in the garden, which would be weird, you have to make the yard accessible from the house.

Build a passageway if you have to so that the dog can come and go as it pleases. And there’s a need to allow the dog to roam free, not caged somewhere in the garden.

The deer need to think that your dog is close and ready to pounce, not far off and tethered to something. 

While allowing your dog into the garden helps keep deer away, you could be putting your furry friend at risk if you are growing toxic plants. So, check that nothing in there would make your dog sick before opting for this move. 

7.) Install Fishing Line Around Plants

Here’s another inexpensive yet effective way to keep deer out of your garden. With the fishing line surrounding your plants, these vegetation eaters will come close but won’t eat anything.

What happens when you have a fishing line? 

Well, it’s not a repellent and certainly doesn’t hurt the deer, but like motion-activated devices, it startles them.

Since the line is practically elusive, deer won’t see it beforehand. And when they get close and hit the line, they can’t comprehend it; they will flee. 

It is best to set up the fishing line placement to four feet, and you should also tie both ends to polls or woods firmly rooted in the ground. If you fail at this, the line may not hold for long, and the deer will have a field day with your plants. 

Don’t use this tactic if you don’t want deer coming anywhere near your plants. Consider fencing, sprinklers, or any other option that keeps them far from your garden. 

8.) Hook Up Some Noise Makers to the Line

Deer don’t like anything that startles them, whether a floodlight, sprinklers, an invisible line or a loud sound. They are prey and often feel a sense of danger when these things go off; that’s why they run off.

In addition to placing fishing lines around your plants, consider attaching cans to them. What’s the special effect? 

So the deer approaches the plants, bumps into the line, and the cans bang against each other. Noise! That’s a combo that never goes wrong. First, the deer can’t tell what’s getting in its way (which is bad enough), and then there’s a loud sound to heighten the fear and tension. 

If you have neighbors, this might not be feasible. You will scare the deer away, but you’d be disturbing the peace. 

9.) Place Obstacles on the Way

This option to keep deer away is similar to building a rock garden perimeter, and the only difference is that the obstacles could be anything from chopped woods to stuffed sacks big enough to create a hindrance.

Deer prefer to walk on flat surfaces and avoid steep slopes or hills, so use these obstacles to make the journey difficult. 

Strategically place whatever you want to use around the area deer make an entry. They will most likely call it a day when they see the uphill task before them. 

10.) Switch Things Up

Deer are smart, and you can’t fool them forever. This is especially true if you have installed preventive measures they can get used to with time.

That includes sprinklers, floodlights, and banging sounds. You’re better off changing positions or adding something extra so they don’t figure out how it works. 

For instance, the deer will get startled and run off when lights blare at them, but that won’t deter them once they can tell nothing happens afterward.

Don’t overthink this; combine any tactic they can decipher with one or two others on this list for better results.

So you can have a fence, sprinklers, and a fishing line. Or a rock garden perimeter, deer repellent plants, and a double fence. 

11.) Don’t Encourage Deer Visitation 

Some people feel bad about keeping deer away from their garden, so they feed them. While this seems like a humane thing to do, it will backfire.

You teach deers to come around more often and bring their pals along if you do this. And you don’t want that at all. 

You will have to attend to them every time because you’ve created a routine. And that could be time-consuming.

Apart from that, your garden is close, so when you’re not able to feed the deer, your garden will be the next stop. Also, the more human interaction you have with them, the less fearful they are when coming to your yard. 

Last Words

Follow this “keep deer out of garden” guide, and you will successfully them out. Remember to switch things up after a while and use some of these preventive measures together. 

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Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.