Prevent Deer Damage in Your Yard

Deer driving you crazy?!

Me too!  Growing up out in the country, we almost never experienced deer troubles.  Now that we continue to encroach on their natural homes, more and more people struggle to be successful with their gardens due to damage caused by these beautiful creatures.  Deer damage home landscapes by feeding on garden and landscape plants, rubbing their antlers against trees, or scraping the soil around trees.

Here is the scoop on how you prevent deer damage in your yard…

  • Physical Barriers. Fences can reduce the number of deer which enter an area, though they’re not 100% effective. For a small garden patch, use a four foot high fence, or enclose the area with snow fence, as deer avoid small, penned-in sites. For a larger lawn or garden, a fence made of wire, not wood, angled away from the yard creates both a psychological and physical barrier. Deer will hesitate to jump over something in which they fear becoming entangled. The fence should be six feet high and have a 30 degree angle to be effective. A fence angled toward the yard is no psychological barrier. Deer will jump a vertical fence eight feet high, particularly if it is made of wood. Electric fencing has been used with some success. However, electric fences are typically not suitable for urban uses, especially when children are present. 
  • Repellents. Two basic types of deer repellents are available. Contact repellents are applied to the plants, causing them to taste bad. Area repellents are placed in the problem area and repel due to their foul odor. A local doctor out of Cedar Rapids is responsible for creating one of the popular area repellants, Deer Off perimeter stakes, which was recently acquired by Havahart Products.  Liquid fence has been a popular contact repellent that many locals prefer.


There are also many folklore type solutions that people often swear by including soap and egg solutions.

  • Soap: Tie pieces of deodorant soap on the branches of trees. A large bar is cut into about six pieces and each piece is placed in a mesh bag and tied to the branches. Non-deodorant soap does not seem to work as well.
  • Egg Solution: Two eggs and a cup or two of cold water mixed in a high speed blender, added to a gallon of water and sprayed on the foliage has been effective in some cases. This egg mixture does not wash off the foliage easily but re-application two or three times a season may be needed. (For a larger quantity, blend a dozen eggs into 5 gallons of water.) This mix should be used a distance from the residence as it has an unpleasant odor. It is also thought to repel rabbits.

Another trending concept for deer deterrent’s is use of noise alarms, however, they are more likely to be found irritating by homeowners and neighbors than by the deer.

I would also suggest choosing plants that deer tend to avoid due to Toxicity, Fragrance and Texture.

It should be noted that hungry deer will eat almost anything. Young, tender plants are generally more likely to be damaged than older, tougher plants. Don’t mix plants deer prefer among those they dislike. They’ll trample the plants they dislike simply to get to those they prefer.

A few of my personal favorite deer resistant plants include:

  • ‘Bloomerang’ and other Lilacs
  • Nannyberry Viburnum
  • Rhododendron & Azaleas
  • ‘Slowmound’ Mugo Pine
  • ‘Gold tide’ Forsythia
  • Veronica
  • Zinnias
  • Liatris
  • Butterfly Weed
  • Lambs Ear
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Geranium
  • Russian Sage
  • Coneflower
  • Yarrow