Keeping Deer Out

Keeping Deer Out

When it comes to our lawn and garden keeping deer out of each is a task for many. This page covers those deer deterrents that can be found at any gardeners supply company and box stores.

Having a deer in the garden can do tremendous damage. Large or small, they consume anywhere from 4000 to 6000 calories daily. An adult doe requires 8 pounds of food daily in winter. Herd sizes are increasing and chances are they'll find something in your butterfly garden that appeals
to them.

These products fall under three categories:

  • Repellents
  • Fences
  • Plants

1) Natural Deer Repellent

Two types of Repellents:

Soaps / Putrescent Eggs

Thiram, or fungicide (not covered)

Repellents effectiveness can depend on how hungry deer are. Deer can be trained to stay away. Activity picks up for browsing for food in October and early November, which is key for keeping deer out.

All of these products have a different effect and
need to be re-applied frequently.

There are a number of these on the market. All are environmentally friendly and safe for animals. Not only are these a deer solution they are effective as a mouse repellent, rabbit repellant and works well on other yard and garden pests.

  • Most are garlic or putrescent egg based and include blends of proteins, fish, clove oil and other ingredients.

  • Causes mild nasal and eye irritation when touched or smelled.

  • Available in granular, spray and stick forms.

  • Depending on product, lasts for 3 to 8 months.

  • Some are temperature sensitive.

  • Don't over-spray if used on plants.

  • Very effective.

2) Liquid Fence / Deer Spray

Organic deer repellents that are friendly and safe for all animals. Disrupts deer's sense of smell, which disrupts sense of security.

  • Ingredients are similar to the above natural repellent, slightly different.

  • Water resistant.

  • Don't over-spray on plants.

  • Helps to get rid of rabbits to.

  • Very effective at keeping deer out. Considered one of the best deer repellent products available.

It works best to alternate these different products to continue confusing deers sense of smell.

3) Motion Activated Deer Deterrent Devices

Common types of natural deer repellent that use technology.
They are motion activated, many up to 85 feet away. Some
require batteries, others may need power cords.

  • Motion activated using light or noise.

  • Water proof.

  • Scares deer in the beginning but in time they get use
    to it and continue foraging.

  • Either works or it doesn't. While the neighbors dog may stay away, other pests will ignore it.

  • Some of these also can be used as an ultrasonic animal repeller used underground with vibration. Helps as gopher and mole repellent. Some help with chipmunk and vole control.

4) Deer Proof Fencing

It is important to know the behavior of deer before putting up a fence. Deer can jump high but would rather go under or through a fence first.

Construction of fence should be flush to the ground. Deer can't dig well under a fence but many other animals do. When a raccoon or skunk dig, a fawn can squeeze through an opening as small as 6 inches.

Check local building codes before constructing any fence for keeping deer out. Also consider any bedrock close to the surface.

*Tall, non-electric Fence

Fences built with the intention of being high enough to prevent deer from jumping over them. Deer average jumping 6-7 feet high. Unfortunately there are those that can jump as high as 10 feet. The most effective fence stands 8 feet tall.

  • Can be costly but can also improve value of property.

  • Overall these work well if the fence is high enough.

  • Attach ribbons or any flagging objects to warn deer not to run into a new fence.

*Electronic Yard Fence

An electric fence consists of wiring that has voltage to shock deer and other animals where they remember it and don't come back. It doesn't take high voltage. For many, this method of deterring deer is best.

  • Most fences are constructed 4-5 feet tall. On top of this are 3 wires that run along the fence on top making the fence taller.

  • Important to consider earth grounding, the types of metals being used to run wires through, wire insulators quality, solar panel consideration, voltage meter, staples, distance between each post and more.

  • If in doubt, hire someone who understands the safe and sturdy handling of fences with electricity.

  • Peanut butter on the fence will attract deer and upon licking will shock them.

*Fences using Outriggers with wires on them.

These are non-electric fences using wires that confuse deer. Deer are cautious and although can jump higher than 10 feet and as far as 14 feet. Their brain does not allow them to comprehend doing both.

  • This method starts with a simple, well constructed fence 4 to 5 feet tall.

  • From the sturdy fence posts (2 x 4) out-riggers are placed at about a 45 degree angle.

  • Wire is placed running along over all the out-riggers the length of the fence.

Deer also avoid jumping into area they can't see. It is possible to build a fence where instead of using outriggers, use trees. Build the shorter fence and plant a line of taller, bushy solid evergreens.

*Shorter, Wireless Deer Fence

Building two smaller fences running along side each other 4 to 5 feet apart, about 4 feet high.

This will also confuse deer (as fence with outriggers does) where they cannot jump both high and far.

  • Plant flowers and bushes between the two fences.

  • Works well but can be costly.

*Chicken Wire

Place chicken wire circling around any trees or plants that need protecting. Make sure chicken wire is tall enough and use stakes to secure wire where it won't be broken down.

5) Deer Repellent Plants

Fortunately many deer resistant plants and nurseries are now beginning to place tags or have a separate area noting which are a natural repellent. Many plants are very attractive to butterflies.  These include:

  • Asclepias tuberosa
  • Catmint
  • Hellebore
  • Yarrow Plant
  • Cleome

  • Butterfly bushes are not only unappealing to deer but they are also a natural repellent for insects.

  • Planting these next to other plants that are not naturally resistant create a natural deer barrier.

6) Black Plastic Mesh

These come in rolls high enough to create a 'Black Plastic Fence'.

  • Can be put up quickly and the posts don't need to be heavy duty to secure plastic.

  • Can be invisible from the street and effective at keeping deer out. Deer have trouble eating through mesh but will keep trying.

  • Lasts for many years but if not kept up the deer will wear down through constantly trying to get over and under it.

  • They are inexpensive and lightweight. Combine along with a liquid fence.

  • Make sure to fasten securely to the ground so deer don't go underneath.


  • A mole repellent is castor oil based. Although these have been known for keeping deer out, they aren't as effective as the products listed above.

  • Building a fence for all: Many gardeners want to get rid of rabbits, woodchucks and more. In this case build a tall fence of chicken wire or galvanized 1 inch wire mesh.

    For deer make it tall, if not then only about 2' high. The fence must go 10 inches deep into the ground. For woodchucks an additional 8 inches is needed (18 inches total) and bent 90 degrees at the bottom. It looks like an 'L' shape. The horizontal portion of 'L' will face into the garden.

Related Articles to help with Keeping Deer Out:

Deer Prevention
How you may be inviting them in and more.
Homemade Deer Repellent
Get creative and save money keeping deer out.

Back from Keeping Deer Out to Starting a Garden

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