Discover the 8 Best Ways To Keep Deer Out Of Your Garden

Written by Patrick Sather
Updated: June 14, 2023
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Of all the well-known garden pests, few can cause as much destruction as deer. These seemingly cute and cuddly creatures can make short work of your vegetable garden if left to run rampant. Over the years, people have come up with all sorts of ways to keep deer out of their gardens. In this guide, we present several of our favorite methods to protect your produce. Keep reading to discover the 8 best ways to keep deer out of your garden. 

8. Put Up a Fence

Wooden fence with green leaves between the panels
Putting up a fence is one of the best ways you can keep deer out of your garden.


Few things will keep deer away from your garden more effectively than a stout, see-through fence. Deer possess remarkable power for their size and can easily jump up to 8 feet tall. To ensure deer stay out of your yard, you would need your fence to measure 8 or more feet. Privacy fences work better than chain link fences, as they also limit a deer’s line of sight into your garden.

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That said, tall privacy fences can cost a pretty penny, especially if you want to fence a large yard. For more cost-effective options, you can try putting up netting around your garden or installing netting around individual plants. Alternatively, you can string fishing wire around the perimeter of your garden. Make sure to keep the fishing wire taut and tie it at least four feet off the ground. To be extra sure, you can try using several layers of wire spaced around a foot apart. 

7. Plant Pungent Flowers and Herbs

Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia
Try planting pungent herbs and flowers to keep deer away.

© Vagnerova

Many gardeners swear in the power of certain herbs and flowers to keep deer away. Deers often use visual as well as taste cues when determining what foods to eat or avoid. Plants that taste bitter or feature a fuzzy, spiny, or coarse texture can taste unappetizing to deer. However, they also tend to stay away from particularly fragrant plants. Extra smelly plants can interfere with a deer’s sense of smell, which can compel them to steer clear. 

That said, every deer is different and has its own particular likes and dislikes. What one deer finds repellent may not work on another deer. For this reason, we recommend mixing and matching different deer-repellent plants to try and maximize their effectiveness. Some flowers that keep deer away include bleeding hearts, coneflower, daffodils, lavender, and astilbe. You can also try planting aromatic herbs, such as sage, mint, thyme, rosemary, and chives. To get the most out of this strategy, try lining the outside of your garden with these pungent plants. Doing this will make the plants act as a form of natural fence that should hopefully deter deer. 

6. Hang Shiny Metal Objects

Blacktail deer
Deer will often avoid shiny objects such as CDs or metal streamers.


Some deer-repellent methods sound like urban legends but, in reality, hold a surprising amount of truth. One such method involves the use of shiny objects. For years, people have hung shiny objects in their gardens in the hopes of scaring away deer and other pests. While this may seem silly at face value, it actually can prove extremely effective at deterring not only deer but also birds and squirrels

Shiny objects such as CDs, aluminum pie tins, aluminum foil, and metallic streamers catch and reflect sunlight. When hung en masse, these shiny objects can distract and deter deer. Try hanging old CDs or other shiny objects from tree branches, fence posts, or other features around your garden. The flashing lights can drive away deer and other pests. The only downside to hanging a bunch of shiny objects in your garden is that it can impact the aesthetic image of your garden.  

5. Install Motion-Activated Sprinklers

Morning is the best time to water your grass.
Try installing motion-activated sprinklers to scare deer.


For most gardens, homemade strategies will work just fine at keeping out deer. However, a particularly tenacious deer may require a more high-tech solution. In this case, you can try installing motion-activated sprinklers to keep deer away. When a deer or other curious critter enters your garden, a motion-activated sprinkler will turn on and spray the invading pest. The high-pressure water does no serious damage to your plants or the animal, thereby serving as a safe and effective method of protecting your garden. 

A motion-activated sprinkler can operate on batteries or solar power. Some require a garden house, while others operate hose-free. More advanced models can spray in 360 degrees, allowing you to cover every corner of your garden. These devices have the added benefit of both protecting and watering your plants. They come in a variety of price points which means they can fit almost any budget. 

4. Make Your Own Homemade Deer Repellent 

Female hand holding garden spray bottle with pesticides and spraying liquid on blooming roses
Create your own deer repellent from homemade ingredients.

©Savanevich Viktar/

Many people swear by the effectiveness of homemade sprays and solutions at keeping away deer. These sprays combine numerous pungent or foul-tasting ingredients that deer find distasteful or odorous. You can find dozens of different do-it-yourself deer repellent recipes online. These often use widely available and affordable ingredients, making them easily accessible for most gardeners. 

Popular ingredients for deer-repellent sprays include dish soap, essential oils, eggs, cayenne pepper, and milk. To use, simply combine some or all of these ingredients with water and spray directly onto plants and around your garden. Just make sure to avoid spraying any parts of plants that you plan to eat (or ensure that you wash produce thoroughly before you eat it). To be most effective, apply solutions often and frequently swap between different ingredients to keep deer and other pests guessing.

3. Buy a Commercial Deer Repellent

A “farmer” dressed in what amounts to a hazmat suit spraying a herbicide on a green field.
You can also try using a commercial deer repellent made from specially-formulated chemicals.


Unfortunately, sometimes even the best-formulated homemade repellents just won’t do the trick. If pungent flowers, sprays, and shiny objects prove ineffective at keeping deer away from your garden, you can always turn to a commercial deer repellent. These specially formulated solutions combine several noxious chemicals designed to keep deer away from your property. While some solutions come in the form of sprays, others are packaged as pellets or granules. Depending on the product, you can either apply them directly to plants or around your garden. 

You can buy some commercial deer repellents over the counter from retail stores or directly from the manufacturer. Popular brands include Bobbex, Deer Out, and Deer Repel. You can buy and use these products yourself to treat your garden. Meanwhile, other products are designed for commercial use only and must be applied by a professional. 

2. Get a Dog

German Shepherd, Dog, Sitting, Outdoors, Grass
Few things will scare away a deer better than a large dog.


Historically, few things are more effective at keeping away wild animals than large predators. If you’re open to adopting a pet, getting a dog is one of the best ways to keep deer out of your garden. The smell of dog urine is often enough to keep deer far away from your garden, as the animals know by smell that a dog is present. Certain breeds are especially effective at keeping deer away, such as shepherds, collies, Pyrenees, and sheepdogs. Just make sure that you live in an area that allows dogs, and be mindful of your neighbors. 

1. Don’t Plant Foods Deer Like

Try planting plants that deer find distasteful such as asparagus.


If you’ve read this far, then your deer problem must be quite serious. In that case, you may want to try a more dramatic approach by turning your garden into a place that offers nothing that deer want. This requires you to almost exclusively plant vegetables, fruits, and herbs that deer find distasteful or that are toxic to deer. While this option requires you to pick and choose which vegetables you plant, it may be your only option when it comes to deterring particularly tenacious deer. 

Thankfully, there are numerous plants that deer avoid or do not like. Nightshades top the list when it comes to deer-repelling plants. Tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers are all slightly toxic to deer, so they tend to avoid eating them. Deer also usually avoid vegetables like chives, leeks, onions, garlic, and asparagus because they find these plants distasteful. Just make sure to protect the young shoots and leaves of your plants, as deer often target these parts first. 

Summary of the 8 Best Ways To Keep Deer Out Of Your Garden

NumberDeer Deterrent
2Pungent Plants
3Shiny Objects
4Motion Sprinkler
5DIY Deer Repellant
6Store-bought Deer Repellant
8Avoid planting their favorite foods

The Featured Image

A deer sprints across a field
Deer Sprinting
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