How to Use Strategic Planting to Keep Deer Out of Your Yard

By Chris Edmunds

A deer invasion can wreak havoc on your garden. Gently keep them away with deer-repellent plants.
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White-tailed deer are pretty common across most of North America. It's always a bit of a thrill to see one, or a few, grazing in a field or leaping gracefully over fences, tails held high. They're delightful at a distance when the distance is out of our yards.

Deer can utterly ransack your yard in a short amount of time. They eat a crazy amount of greenery every day and can make quick work of gardens, flower beds, and containers if they're undisturbed. You can fence your yard, but unless the fence is at least 8 feet tall, it won't matter. Most municipalities don't allow fencing over 6 feet tall, and deer will happily clear that if they smell a smorgasbord of greenery on the other side. 

Companion Planting

Deer have certain favorite plants that they'll seek out in urban environments. These include:

Deer-Resistant Plants

There are also several species of shrubs and trees that are considered deer-resistant. Yards with dense hedges and shrubs that deer can't see through are deterrent to deer. They like to be able to see if predators are around, so they'll usually avoid areas where they perceive the risk of getting trapped or ambushed. These shrubs and trees are great starts for making your yard less welcoming to deer.

Deer-Resistant Shrubs

Deer-Resistant Trees

Deer can have a particularly devastating impact in the spring when gardens and flower beds are full of tender leafy annuals before everything else has started to green up. At this time of year, deer are very hungry and will eat nearly anything they can scavenge up. There are deer repelling products on the market that do a very good job, such as Liquid Fence, Bobbex, Deer Off, and Repels-All, but you need to apply them every two weeks to be effective. 

You can also make your own deer repellant mixture, but it will wear off quicker and need to be reapplied more often than the commercial products. To make this simple (and smelly) solution, whisk three eggs, 3 tablespoons Tabasco or similar hot sauce and 3 tablespoons of garlic powder, along with several tablespoons of water. You’ll want to use relatively new garlic powder, because it may lose its potency as it gets older. Put the mixture into a gallon jug, and fill the jug with water. Let the solution sit for at least 24 hours at room temperature, and then transfer it to a garden sprayer. Apply after the morning dew has evaporated so the foliage is dry, and then spray the solution on any plants you are concerned about, covering all parts of the plant. Reapply weekly or after rain. Being egg-based, be careful applying to any fruits or vegetables you intend on consuming, as it may be hard to wash away the dried-egg residue.

Keep in mind that some years, if they've had a rough winter, deer may even eat things they otherwise wouldn't. There may be nothing you can do to stop them, short of standing guard day and night or putting up an electric fence!

With that said, a little prevention can certainly help redirect deer to other yards than your own! Next spring, try stocking up on some of these deer-resistant choices when you visit one of our seasonal garden center locations. You'll be grateful you did if it saves your favorites from getting chomped!




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