How in the world can you stop deer from eating all the flowers in your garden? They are beautiful creatures, but they're ruthless when it comes to your garden plants. We've spent time exploring and researching this topic and have come up with a list of suggestions that may help.
To keep deer out of your garden and keep your flowers happy and healthy, try these strategies.
- Use a deer repellent
- Use fencing
- Try an ultrasonic device
- Plant flowers that are less appealing to deer
- Give some anecdotal solutions a try
Let's dive in and see what might work for your garden. Otherwise, before long you'll only have stalks left in your flower bed.
Stop Deer From Eating Your Flowers
Deer are beautiful creatures. There's no denying it. But they are also ruthless predators when it comes to garden plants, and especially flowers. Letting a deer loose in your flower patch is not much different from giving a toddler free rein in the ice cream shop. In short, they love to eat flowers. But how can you stop them from destroying your garden?
Use A Deer Repellent
Deer repellent is any type of substance that you spray or sprinkle around plants, to keep deer away. There are many commercial ones available on the market. Some smell quite strong, so be aware of this if your plants are close to outdoor living areas.
We like this spice scent repellent. It comes in a concentrate. Mix and put in a pump sprayer, then spray all of your plants and flowers. Deer dislikes the smell or taste and will choose other options. Reapply it every 3-4 weeks during the growing season. It's non-toxic for fruits and vegetables, as well. It also won't wash off in the rain as the mix has some sort of sticky quality that adheres to the plant.
What Smells Repel Deer?
Deer repellents fall into two categories. Smells that interfere with their sense of smell and those which signify danger. In the case of the commercial deer repellent above, the spicy smell is an interfering smell.
Products that have a foul odor, like the one below, will often use some sort of predator scat or urine compound to scare away the deer.
Will Irish Spring Soap Keep Deer Away?
Smelly soaps fall into the category of smells that interfere with a deer's ability to sniff out danger. For every person who swears by hanging bars of soap around their garden, there's another person who says it doesn't work. The thing to know about deer is they don't like new things. So, Irish Spring soap may work initially, but eventually, the deer grow used to it.
Little drawstring bags like this are great for putting bars of smelly soap in to hang around the garden. Be careful not to choose soap that contain coconut oil because it attracts deer.
Does Vinegar Repel Deer?
Dried vinegar is unappealing to deer and can work temporarily to keep them from eating your plants. However, it washes off easily with the rain and the dew and will require constant reapplication.
Do Coffee Grounds Keep Deer Away?
This one of those maybe, or maybe not, solutions. Used coffee grounds sprinkled around your gardens may help to deter deer. But like with other smells, once they grow used to it and don't associate it with danger, they may simply ignore the smell and go right back to eating your flowers.
One other consideration, though, is coffee's acidity and how it might affect your plants. We suggest trying it out in a small section of your garden before going full bore.
Will Cayenne Pepper Deter Deer?
Cayenne pepper falls into the same category as coffee and vinegar. Deer don't like it. So, yes, it will deter them. But will it stop them completely? That depends on how hungry your deer are. It's worth a try, though.
Do Mothballs Repel Deer?
Mothballs might work, but we don't recommend using them. Mothballs contain a substance toxic to pets and children. Because they melt in the rain and under sprinkler's jets, it means the toxic naphthalene goes into your groundwater. You're better off using a storebought solution specifically made to repel deer and be garden friendly.
What Is A Good Homemade Deer Repellent?
If you do a quick internet search, you'll come up with countless recipes for homemade deer repellants. The nice thing is most of these you create with easily available household ingredients.
We like this one we found:
- 4 Tablespoons hot sauce
- 3 raw eggs
- 3 Tablespoons of minced garlic
Blend all ingredients together in a blender and add a little bit of water to lessen the thickness. Then, add the mixture to 1 gallon of water and spray around your plants.
Use Deer Fencing
Perhaps the most effective way to keep deer out is to fence them out. Deer fencing needs to stand at least 6' tall. But, if it's a large area that they prefer to cut across rather than skirt around, you may need to bump the fence up to 10' tall. This is, of course, a costly solution if you're fencing in a whole yard. But for a garden patch, it's totally doable.
Try An Ultra-Sonic Device
Ultra-sonic devices work to deter all sorts of animals. They activate through motion and emit both an ultrasonic sound and a flash strobe light. This works by startling and scaring off the deer. They are solar-powered, install anywhere in the garden, and won't harm household pets.
Plant Flowers That Are Less Appealing To Deer
If you don't want the deer to eat everything in your garden, plant things that deer don't love to eat. Some flowers that deer don't prefer include: daffodils, foxglove, poppies, lavender, peonies, and bearded iris - just to name a few.
Give Some Anecdotal Solutions A Try
Just like with food items, there are anecdotal stories about how to keep deer out of the garden. Let's look at a few of the most popular theories to find out if they're fact or fiction.
Will Dog Poop Keep Deer Away?
Dogs fall into the predator category for deer, and though their feces may be disgusting for deer to smell, a dog that chases and barks at the deer is a bigger deterrent. Some people say that dog urine is almost as effective as coyote urine as a deer deterrent. But, unless you plan on either collecting it or training Fido to spot your garden, it may be more hassle than it's worth. Plus, dog waste can do a number on some of your plants.
Does Human Urine Repel Deer?
We once knew a man who planted coffee cans around the perimeter of his garden and every morning after drinking his coffee, he'd go out and "replace his deer deterrent" in those cans. Human urine is a foul odor to deer, and it is the odor of a predator. However, in an urban environment where deer are used to the smell of humans, it may not work. This is one of those tricks that costs nothing to try and might save a sunflower or two.
Do Dryer Sheets Keep Deer Away?
Dryer sheets fall into the sensitive smell category, and though they may create a fresh-laundered feel for your flowers, chances are they won't keep the deer away.
Do Wind Chimes Scare Deer?
Wind chimes will definitely scare the deer away the first time or two they hear them. Think about it though, there's no guarantee the deer choose to snack on your flowers only on windy days. Which means on still, quiet days those wind chimes won't work at all, and your flowers will be gone.
Does Epsom Salt Keep Deer Away?
Epsom salt works well for keeping moles and grubs out of your lawn, but it doesn't seem to be an effective deer repellent on its own. It's used as part of the mix in some commercially available deer repellents; however, it appears to be more for the benefit of the vegetation and the soil than to deter deer.
What Attracts Deer The Most?
We've talked a lot about what to use to repel deer, but what if we are inadvertently attracting them? What attracts deer the most to our gardens, besides the flowers? (Deer especially love sunflowers, see our post here: Are Sunflowers Deer Resistant? [and How to Protect Your Plants])
Deer love when our lawns contain clover and other high-protein crops, like chicory or orchard grass. They love kale, and corn, and peas in our vegetable gardens. If you have nut-producing trees, like chestnuts or oaks, you're likely to have your fair share of deer as they love to browse and munch on the fallen acorns and nuts.
Does Vanilla Extract Attract Deer?
It sure will. This is a trick many hunters use when they're walking in to get to their hunting stands. They'll douse their boots in vanilla extract to both disguise their scent and appeal to the deer they're on the lookout for. They spray the bushes all around where they're staked out, drawing the deer in.
Armed with these possibilities, which approach will you try first? Please let us know if something worked better than something else for your garden, and your deer population. And if you enjoyed this post at GardenTabs.com, please check out these below we think may be of interest: