Deer are no friend to a garden. In fact, most gardeners will find themselves with a feeling of dread if they spot a deer anywhere near their backyard garden. A mature deer can eat as much as 10 pounds of food per day, which means they could consume an entire garden long before anything is harvested.
A deer diet will vary depending on the region where they live, as well as the breed of deer. However, gardeners and homeowners must know how to repel deer and reduce the amount of damage they do on their property.
Signs of Deer Activity
First, an owner must decide if they have a deer problem or another type of pest that is plaguing their garden. There are some indicators that a deer could be the culprit, such as:
- Hoof marks: Any sign of hoof prints in the soil, which look like upside-down hearts are an indicator of a deer.
- Droppings: Deer, just like other pests, will leave droppings that look like small pebbles.
- Trampled plants: Deer are not graceful when they walk through one’s garden; therefore, there will be signs of crushing in the backyard where they have moved around looking for food.
- Torn leaves: Deer do not have front incisors; therefore, they jerk their heads to bite a plant and eat the leaves. That results in a torn edge on the leaf or stem.
Ideas for Homemade Deer Repellent
Deer repellents can be made at home for little to no cost. Those that emit a sulfur-like odor are perfect for getting rid of deer and include rotten egg smells.
Also, deer do not like certain spices, such as hot pepper or garlic. Growing these in the garden may be enough to deter them from eating there.
Those repellents that create a bitter aftertaste to the plants and leaves will rarely prevent a hungry deer; therefore, homeowners should not waste their money on them.
Natural Deer Repellent
Physical barriers are the best form of natural deer repellent. These physical barriers could prevent a deer from entering the garden. Floating row covers or chicken wire are great physical barriers. Also, plastic netting that goes over the backyard can be removed when it is time to harvest, but put in place to ensure deer do not nibble on the produce.
A polypropylene fence is easy to create and using a double fence will also ensure that deer cannot jump over the fence and reach the food.
Other scare tactics may deter deer from entering the garden. Some examples include:
- Barking dogs: Deer are terrified of dogs. Therefore, a barking one can keep them away A dog that has free roam of the yard is more successful than one that is kenneled and cannot reach the deer.
- Predator urine: While expensive, it will keep a deer from entering the garden. All it needs is a weekly application. Hanging liquid dispensers are available, but these are not always as effective.
Try Deer Repellent Plants, Too
Some plants may also repel deer. However, these plants are not always effective depending on the type of deer. Planting them in the garden or in between rows of vegetables in the backyard may deter them from eating there, though.
Some of the plants that deer do not like include rosemary, oregano, and garlic. These are planted as borders to vegetable garden beds, and the deer will not eat there because they smell the rosemary and oregano.
Also, gardeners need to ensure that their garden is not full of plants and vegetables that a deer will want to eat. When planting items that attract deer, homeowners may have few repellents that will keep them away. Springtime is the time of year when deer are their hungriest, and they will look out for English ivy, lettuce, beans, peas, and pansies.
Fruit trees attract deer too. They love the natural sweetness of strawberries and peaches.
Most pungent perennials will keep deer away. Deer do rely heavily on their sense of smell; therefore strong-scented herbs could be all it takes to mask the appealing smells of a good vegetable garden.