Natural Deer Deterrents
A number of natural deer deterrents are available to gardeners seeking ways to deter hungry deer with a safe and natural approach. While a very hungry deer will eat just about any type of plant, a first step gardeners can take is to keep them away by choosing plants that are less likely to be palatable to the animals, such as plants with fuzzy leaves or bitter tasting leaves. Deer will also instinctively avoid poisonous plants, but poisonous plants can also present hazards to pets and small children and should not be planted without careful consideration.
Strategically choosing flowers and trees with an unpleasant taste is the most natural, but perhaps least effective way of keeping deer from invading a garden. Foxgloves, daffodils, and geraniums are sometimes suggested as plants that deer dislike, but deer will sometimes eat even those plants.
Physical barriers are the most effective way to deter deer. Fences work the best, but they can be expensive to build, and they are not practical in all gardens. Most fences do not keep rabbits or raccoons out, which some of the other deer deterrents help with.
Nets places over berry bushes and other plants are excellent for keeping deer and birds away. This is a good solution for gardens with small fruit trees or berry bushes, where the nets will not detract from the look. For ornamental gardens, however, nets can greatly diminish one’s enjoyment of the garden.
Deer damage frequently goes beyond nibbling on flowers and new growth. Extensive damage to trees happens not only from feeding, but because the deer rub their antlers against the trees. These habits can strip the bark right off of the trees. Small saplings can be protected by this damage with tubing, or fencing or netting built around each tree, and larger trees can be protected with fencing.
A motion-activated sprinkler is an excellent solution to keeping deer away, and can be set to work even when the homeowners are absent for extended time periods. Motion-activated sprinklers are available in gardening stores and online starting at around fifty dollars. One motion-activated sprinkler can detect motion over a one-thousand square foot area, and can be used day and night. The sprinklers provide a humane and natural way to deter not only deer, but also other animals like raccoons and rabbits.
A variety of natural liquid solutions sprayed on plants can also keep deer from eating them. The most popular and effective solutions of this type are egg-based, usually with a raw egg mixed into a gallon of water. Variations including adding hot pepper or other spices, or soap to the solution. Repellents such as human hair, blood meal, or pellets made from coyote urine have mixed results and may not be considered as natural as the other above-mentioned solutions.
In summary, the most natural ways to deter deer are with physical barriers or water, but solutions made with eggs and spices can also be a natural, safe, and effective way to deter hungry deer from one’s plants.