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Tips to Keep Deer Away from Your Garden

Nothing quite evokes the tranquility of nature like a deer. Their presence invokes the mystique of Mother Nature. However, for homeowners who also enjoy the tranquility of gardening, then the presence of deer in your yard isn’t quite as wonderful. Like all wild animals, homeowners must find ways to keep deer away from their gardens without overly harming them. From natural repellents to physical barriers, the following guide offers some straightforward tips to help deter deer from your yard and garden.

General Tips to Deter Deers From Your Property

Just like keeping critters out of your garden, the most effective way to deter deer from your land and garden relies on a variety of methods. From natural smells that act as repellent to proactively planting flowers and installing fencing, then there are straightforward ways to keep deer away (with some added patience).

Deter Deers with Specific Plants, Flowers and Smells

Like most wild animals, deer dislike certain smells, so planting these around the perimeter of your garden will act as a natural repellent. Additionally, fuzzy and/or prickly plants help deter deer as well. For more on the most effective plants to keep deer away from your garden, then Garden Design offers a list:


  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Catmint
  • Garlic
  • Chives

Fuzzy/Hairy Plants:

  • Lamb’s ear (Stachys)
  • Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla)
  • Siberian bugloss (Brunnera)
  • Flowering tobacco (Nicotiana)
  • Tuberous begonias
  • Heliotrope
  • Yarrow (Achillea)
  • Ageratum

Prickly Plants:

  • Bear’s breeches (Acanthus)
  • Globe thistle (Echinops)
  • Cardoon
  • Sea hollies (Eryngium)

Other Deer-Resistant Plants:

  • Barrenwort
  • Bee balm
  • Bleeding heart
  • Boxwood
  • Butterfly bush
  • Daffodils
  • Ferns
  • Foxglove
  • Hellebores
  • Peonies
  • Russian sage

Repel Deer with Sprays

In addition to natural smells from plants and spices, there are a variety of sprays that help keep deer away. For example, smells like garlic, rotten eggs, or hot pepper work to deter deer. For the most effective use, then rotate the smells every few weeks because deer could become accustomed to one scent. Additionally, deer tend to avoid the smell of dog urine, so for dog owners, then allowing the dogs to relieve themselves along the edge of the garden can help keep deer away.

Keep Deer Away with Fencing

Install a fence at least 8 feet tall, as deer can easily jump over shorter fences. Related to a garden fence, consider hanging a fishing line or single wire strand at multiple heights (and in particular, nose height to a deer), to help deter deer from jumping into the garden area. Additionally, other physical barriers, such as crop covers or poultry wire cages will help protect particularly vulnerable plants. Finally, hanging shiny objects or adding some motion-sensor lights are not as evasive to your garden, but also work to deter deer by startling them.

Garden experts, such as Planet Natural, generally recommend similar deterrent methods that rely on smells, scents and protection. Depending on the space in your garden (and aesthetics), then planting the deer-resistant smells along the edges will add another layer of defense. The pungent smells act as a border that ideally will help protect your prize plants and flowers.

Common Mistakes and Misconceptions About Keeping Deer Away from Gardens

Although the steps to keep deer away are straightforward, there are still a few common mistakes and misconceptions. First and foremost, deterring deer (like all critters, such as squirrels out of the garden) requires patience and persistence. Wild animals are resourceful and adaptable, so relying on one method will no longer work over time. A few common mistakes and misconceptions about keeping deer away:

  • Not Using a Combination of Deterrents: No plant or deterrent is truly deer-proof, so it is vital to utilize a combination of the common deterrents (smells and physical barriers).
  • Not Rotating Repellent Sprays: Related to a combination of deterrents, rotating the repellent sprays (as the flowers will remain throughout the growing season) is critical to keep deers from becoming accustomed to the smells.
  • Planting Deer Favorites in Isolated Areas: As opposed to creating a border around deer favorites (such as hostas or daylilies), people believe planting these in a separate area will keep deer away from the primary garden. Instead, this is an invitation to deer to your property.
  • Overusing Fertilizers: Fertilizers that are nitrogen-rich help new growth develop, which is great for your garden, but also inviting to deer. To help deter deer, then use fertilizers sparing.
  • Failing to Utilize Hardscaping: Hardscaping creates a sense of order that can distract from any deer damage to plantings, so if the space allows, then incorporate pathways, walls, and water to help keep deer away.
  • Deer-Resistant Plants Are Not Foolproof: Similar to rotating smells and using a combination of deterrents, nothing is foolproof. While deer generally dislike certain smells (and plants), these can vary based on location, time of year, deer density, availability of alternate foods, and concentration of repellents used.

Ultimately, deploying a multi-pronged approach using fencing, repellents, deer-resistant plants, and possibly knowing some damage may occur will help keep deer away and your mind clear.

Finally, if your efforts are unable to keep pace with deer (or other wildlife), then contact your local pest control and extermination experts.  At Eliminate ’Em, we offer animal control to keep your garden, your potted plants, your pets, and your family safe! Contact your local Eliminate ’Em team 24/7 on any day of the year for Connecticut, New York, western Massachusetts and Rhode Island wildlife and pest removal today!