Seeing deer wandering around your neighborhood might be exciting for the first time. But when the creature comes to your yard, it tells a different story. Deer is herbivorous in nature—they eat vegetables, fruits, or plant foliage. It means when you have a yard full of decorative shrubs, veggies, and fruit plants, knowing how to keep deer out of garden becomes crucial.
You might want to know that adult deer can consume up to 10 pounds each day. During spring or summer, they tend to eat in greater quantities, especially for pregnant and nursing female deer. There are some ways to keep deer out of your garden, ranging from placing physical fences to using natural repellent. Most of these methods are effective to protect your garden from voracious deer.
Know When Deer Visit Your Garden
Once you spot a deer in the neighborhood, you should consider building a protection to the garden right away. You cannot make sure the deer just passes by and is not interested to the crops you do. Besides, it is impossible to keep an eye to the garden for 24/7, which means deer can make time to enjoy your crops while you are sleeping or leaving the house.
When your crops do not like normal or plant foliage have bite traces, it can be a sign of deer presence. But there are some other signs to make sure there is deer activity in the garden even though you never spot one:
1. Hoof prints
Check on soft earth where deer might leave their hoof prints. Deer prints typically looks like upside-down heart which can be easily identified. However, sometimes it is quite hard to notice the actual print but it may appear in cylindrical holes.
If you want to investigate deeper, you may spend time to find deer droppings. While eating, deer tend to throw their droppings that resemble round pebble. The droppings usually come in small pile.
3. Torn leaves
Deer do not possess upper front teeth. This makes them have to jerk their heads and pull the leaves, creating torn edge on both stems and leaves. Unlike gophers and rabbits, they have upper and lower teeth so they create neat edges.
4. Trampled plants
Surely deer do not always walk on footpaths just like you usually do. They tend to trample on plantings and leave messy garden.
How to Keep Deer Out of Garden
Deer are a smart animal that they can break into your garden by ways you never think of. You need strategies to defeat those animals and enjoy the peaceful garden without their presence. To prevent deer from feasting your crops, there are some methods that you can do such as building physical barriers, plant natural repellents, involve your dog, choose crops unpalatable for deer, and many others.
Most of these methods are effective to keep deer at bay. You can combine two or more methods to make sure deer will not visit your garden. Without going any further, here are 10 solutions to keep deer off the garden.
1. Build physical barriers
The most effective method to protect your garden is by building physical barriers. The presence of physical barriers such as fences and covers are able to block deer and other intruders, leaving your garden and crops safe. You can use some types of cover such as plastic netting, floating row covers, and chicken wire. When using these covers, make sure to anchor the cover so winds do not displace them.
Physical barriers should be tall enough, considering deer may leap as high as 12 feet depending on the species. For maximum protection, you can also provide double fences, spacing 5 feet between inner and outer one. The fact that a clear fence will motivate deer to jump inside, you may prefer a wooden fence to keep the crops out of sight.
Another physical barrier to take into account is electric fencing. Apart from the pros and cons of using electric fencing to keep animals off your garden, this can be a method that works. When installing an electric fencing, make sure not to start too high that deer may crawl under the fence. Consider using solar charger that the electricity bill does not break your savings.
2. Let your dog do the job
Among many options to keep deer off your garden, involving your dog is one of the most effective. Dogs are excellent deer deterrent as they can run around the garden to chase the deer away, especially loose dog. This gives a bad lesson for the critters that they will not come back as long as the dogs are there.
However, choose dogs that do not bark incessantly. Deer are adaptable and they are smart enough to figure out if certain dog is a true threat. They tend to ignore the dogs especially when they are not capable of chasing due to chain or fences. The deer will keep feasting on your crops and let the barkers bark incessantly.
3. Spraying predator urine
This may be disgusting but is effective to keep deer at bay. Deer can smell predator urine and this makes them think a predator is around the garden. However, this may require higher cost, especially for the larger garden for predator urine, must be applied frequently, at least once in a week.
As an alternative, you may opt for hanging liquid dispenser that requires a monthly refill. This lets deer smell the liquid though technically the urine is not spread around the garden. Or else, you can use granular forms to treat the area. This is known to be more effective for large garden.
4. Use natural repellent
Use natural repellents to keep deer out of your garden. You can choose either homemade or manufactured repellents to spray the crops. Natural repellents such as hot pepper, sulfur, rotten eggs, and garlic are known to be effective to deter deer. Sulfur odor and egg products provide the best efficacy to your garden and crops.
To make repellents more effective, you can prefer ones applied to leaf surfaces to ones spread around the garden and release odor. The second option only creates a perimeter but plant foliage remain palatable for the deer, thus they can feast on the crops once adaptable with the odor. While the first one gives bad odor to the leaves that deer may lose appetite to chew it.
5. Plants and shrubs to deter deer
Aside from spraying natural repellent that releases odor, you can also plant certain plans and shrubs to deter deer. Daffodils and other poisonous plants are avoided by deer while lamb’s ear plants are also unpalatable to them. Oleander and boxwood are also unappealing to deer, thus you can choose those plant selections to create hedge around the garden and deter deer.
There are many cases that deer visit garden that shows crops and ripe fruit. This looks attractive to deer and motivates them to enjoy the veggies. A tall and dense hedge avoid deer from seeing your crops, thus they will not cross through. Chances are that deer will skip your garden and choose elsewhere that is easier to see and to reach.
6. Crop selection
Asparagus, rhubarb, and garlic are not palatable to deer that they will skip garden that plants those crops. If you do not want to fill the garden with those, get the best out of them by planting asparagus, garlic, and rhubarb to disguise your other crops. From outside, deer will only see unpalatable crops and decide to keep walking and find other garden with attractive harvest.
This method is reported to be effective. Gardeners who plant rosemary, oregano, asparagus, and other plants deer don’t like tend report success of avoiding deer from visiting the garden. However, deer are smart critter that they will learn and may come back for another time so you need to combine with other method.
7. Install moving décor into the garden
Deer enjoy chewing on your crops when they find it is safe enough. While you cannot keep watching the garden for 24 hours, it makes moving décor a worth trying method to deter deer. There are many options when it comes to moving décor as most gardeners prefer DIY decorations. You can use tins, coins, and any other thing with disturbing sound to scare the deer.
You can also place decorations that can spin, whistle, rotate, or wiggle with the help of wind. The sudden movement and unusual sound will scary deer and keep them out of your garden. Nevertheless, deer are adaptable that this method may not work after they get adapted. It is not a surprise to see the deer keep on chewing the crops while seeing the weird decorations wiggling.
Deer are a smart animal that they can learn and adapt to any method you use. Using only one method may not be powerful to keep deer at bay. How to keep deer out of garden effectively is by combining two or more methods such as building a physical barrier, planting natural repellents, and using strategy in planting the crops. Through these ways, deer will not ever visit and feast on your crops.