Deer are lovely, beautiful creatures, but they can wreak havoc in the garden. Most gardeners know this struggle. This was evidenced when I included a “community question” in a recent newsletter (if you haven’t signed up, click here to join in!). I asked on behalf of a TGG reader if anyone had any tips for how to keep deer out of the garden. What followed was a flood of responses, nearly all unique, with personal experiences on what hacks, products, and DIY solutions worked and which didn’t. I immediately knew I needed to create a permanent home for all this knowledge on the blog. 

deer eating garden plants

While I love deer in their natural habitat, it simply doesn’t seem fair that they see our raised beds as their own personal salad bar after we put all that work in, right? We gardeners are the ones who set aside space indoors to start seeds, then planted out the seedlings, fertilized, watered, and weeded tirelessly hoping to enjoy the fruits of our labor. That’s why I want to share all these tips and tricks with you, in hopes that you can be the one to enjoy your vegetables, flowers, and landscaping plants from here on out. So without further ado, here are all the tips and tricks from your fellow TGG readers! Try a few out, and hopefully find a new problem solving trick.

Create the illusion of a threat

Deer are prey animals with lots of predators. In the wild, this includes coyotes, foxes, wolves, bears, the list goes on. In residential areas, their main predator is humans. Depending on where you live, one predator might be more threatening than another. In some areas, deer are so accustomed to living near people that they might barely be phased by the smell of a human in the garden. If that sounds like your local deer, you will want to opt for the illusion of something more threatening like a coyote decoy. With this in mind, check out these deer repellent ideas and choose for yourself which would work better in your situation.

deer in garden

Human smells

As mentioned above, these solutions will only work if your local deer are not so accustomed to people that they don’t mind the thought of sharing your garden with a human. If your deer are pretty skittish, though, these just might work. Each of these solutions basically tricks the deer into thinking a human is present somewhere nearby. They’ll decide it’s best to visit the salad bar some other time and stay away.

Hair clippings

Let’s start with the less gross option. Hair clippings are a simple deer deterrent with an added benefit- they’ll slowly fertilize your garden as they break down. Talk to your hairdresser next time you’re in the salon, and see if they’ll provide you with the hair clippings swept up after the work day. 

blonde hair being cut by scissors

Human urine

Ok, this one is indeed a bit gross, but if you can get past collecting your own urine to make this deer repellent spray, it apparently works pretty well. This subscriber suggests simply sprinkling/spraying bit of urine around the perimeter of your garden to keep deer out.

Predator decoy

It’s simple enough to find and purchase a decoy online or at outdoor stores. Opt for a coyote or fox for a decoy like this that will spook deer. Be sure to move it every few weeks so that the deer won’t realize it’s fake. 

coyote decoy product image


Instead of animal decoy, you can also create a DIY scarecrow (lots of ideas on our sister blog, The Budget Decorator) to make deer think you are in your garden. This may not be as effective if the deer in your area are very accustomed to being around people. However, I think it’s worth a shot, especially if you are looking for a fall decor project anyway!

scarecrow in garden to keep deer out

Perfume your garden with deer repellent smells

I have heard that in reality, most “strong” smells will help to deter deer and even other pests like squirrels from your plants. This makes sense once you start reading through DIY deer repellent recipes and ideas. They can range from smelling actually quite clean and pleasant, (irish spring soap for instance), to absolutely putrid mixtures of rotten foods. So, do with that information what you like, take a look at these ideas, and pick your poison. 

Rotten egg/milk spray

We keep finding new uses for kitchen scraps in the garden. There are several different variations of this spray on the internet. The goal of each recipe is to smell absolutely horrible. Here is one recipe from a TGG newsletter subscriber:

Beat 1 egg, add 1 tablespoon of baking powder, add to about 3/4 of a litre of water, spray on (and around) plants. Their advice is to spray once per month.

Bob Vila and “Deerbusters” have similar recipes too. Play around with your own recipe using what you have on hand and see what kind of smelly creation you can come up with.

Essential oil spray

One subscriber suggested creating a mint spray. They were really on to something as peppermint is known to be great at deterring lots of pests. BHG has a guide on how to create your own mint spray here.

Irish spring soap 

Though the above spray recipes are really only smelly to humans when first sprayed, that still may be off-putting enough to steer clear of the diy spray route. If that sounds like you, try this alternative. Irish Spring bar soap is one well known deer repellent hack that always comes up in searches and conversations about solving a garden deer problem.

Irish spring soap box

There are a few ways to ensure the soap smell is effective at protecting your garden. One is to tie up some soap bars in panty hose, cheese cloth, or some other perforated material and hang each bar around the perimeter of your garden. Alternatively, some gardeners opt to grate soap bars using a cheese grater to really ensure an evenly distributed smell throughout the garden. 

Plant deer resistant plants

Deer repellent and resistant plants

Along the same lines of scent repellents above, some plants can help deter deer simply with their presence as they put off an unpleasant odor. One such plant is garlic. If you are a vegetable gardener, consider interplanting garlic throughout your beds to keep the deer at bay.


There are a surprising number of beautiful, and tasty plants that deer won’t bother trying to eat. These include some of our favorite spring bulbs like alliums and daffodils, and even some delicious culinary herbs. Marigolds, a companion planting favorite for pest control, also happens to be deer resistant. Check out this rather comprehensive list for more deer resistant plant ideas.


Use physical barriers

If you have the space, time, and budget, adding or changing your yard barriers could be a surefire way to keep the deer out. This can range from a full fencing project to simply adding an obstacle to keep deer from eating your garden plants.

Install a taller fence

Deer can jump over some pretty high obstacles, even over 7 feet! Even if you already have a fence, there’s a good chance deer can make it over if the food on the other side is tempting enough. Consider heightening your fence using tools like these or factoring this into your plans if you are about to build one.

Close up fence gaps

Along with their jumping ability, deer are also quite skilled at squeezing through spaces you may think would be too skinny for them. To keep deer out, fencing should have gaps no larger than 6 by 6 inches.

Make a DIY invisible fence

One newsletter subscriber suggested using fishing line to create an “invisible” fence. I had never heard of this solution, but I liked the idea of it and found more examples of people having success with it online. This is a great option if you want something easier and less permanent than regular fencing. It’s also great if you want to fence your vegetable garden in without losing the view of your plants from your window.

two rolls of fishing line

Protect plants with netting

Not interested in permanent barriers like fencing? Simply protect the plants that are most likely to be eaten by deer. This can be done using temporary solutions like mesh covers or netting for rows of vegetables or even trees. This is readily available at most hardware stores and on Amazon. You can also buy wire cloches to protect individual lettuce plants or seedlings from deer and rabbits.

wire mesh garden cloche protecting lettuce plants

Deer-repelling tricks

Beyond decoys and smells to help pretend your garden is a threatening place, you can also just make your garden more inconvenient or unpleasant with these simple tricks

Motion activated sprinkler system

It’s pretty easy to find these sprinkler systems in stores or online (here’s one on Amazon), and they are specifically designed to keep pests out of yards. Just be sure to put it on a timer or turn it off before you have any human visitors!

sprinkler in yard to keep deer out of garden

Reflective and or/noisy DIY deer repellent

This simple solution is like a DIY garden craft you can’t mess up. Reflective objects, especially in motion, and clanging noises help to deter deer. This can be accomplished by stringing up some aluminum baking pans (as suggested by one subscriber) or tin cans onto a stake. As the wind blows, it’ll create a commotion that will deter deer.

tin cans hanging from string to keep deer out of a garden

Commercial solutions

Among the answers submitted by subscribers were more store bought repellents than I even knew existed. Here are the ones that our newsletter subscribers say works great for them.

Liquid Fence

Ultrasonic deer repellent stakes

Deer out spray

Happy gardening and good luck keeping the deer out!

I hope these tips help you to keep the deer at bay so you can have your garden all to yourself soon. You deserve to enjoy your the fruits of your labor, after all! I’d love to hear how these tips and tricks work for you, so be sure to sign up for our newsletter and follow us on social media to keep in touch!

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