How to Keep Deer Out of the Yard and Garden

Deer love to feed on landscape plants, gardens, bulbs, and more. Learn how to keep them away.

If only all deer were like the cute, big-eyed, cartoon fawn that played in the forest with his best friends, a skunk and rabbit that we remember from our childhood. Unfortunately, trying to have a bountiful vegetable garden or beautiful landscape when deer are present can present challenges. The furry beasts seem to know which plants are your favorites and have appetites that are tough to beat. (A single deer can eat up to 10 pounds of food daily.) In addition to tender plants, bulbs, grass, and leaves, deer favor much of the same food we do, with the exception of strong-tasting plants like rhubarb, asparagus, and garlic. Here are some telltale signs that deer have invaded your yard:

  • Nibbled buds and scraped bark

  • Half-eaten fruit and vegetables

  • Torn or ripped leaves with jagged edges

  • Damaged shrubs or trampled plants

  • Droppings

  • Tracks shaped like upside-down hearts

To keep deer from treating your yard like their personal all-you-can-eat buffet, you'll need a plan. Here are some tips to help keep them out of your yard.

  • Use a repellent. Apply Tomcat® Repellents Deer Repellent Ready-To-Use, which contains essential oils that have a smell and taste deer dislike. It's long-lasting and rain-resistant, and safe for plants, people, and pets (when used as directed).

  • Choose plants they don't like. Deer don't tend to bother plants with fuzzy or hairy leaves, prickly foliage, or strong scents. Include deer-repelling plant varieties such as iris, coneflower, lemon balm, sage, lavender, and garlic in your garden and flower beds. Check with your local university extension office for suggestions on deer-resistant varieties that grow well in your area. Also, if you have tender, tasty plants such as roses and berries, plant them closer to the house, where deer are less likely to graze.

  • Erect a barrier. Tall or electric fencing, or hedgerows, can help discourage deer from coming onto your property. Whichever you choose, it will be most effective when it is at least 8 feet high, as deer are excellent jumpers. If you'd prefer a shorter fence, construct a double barrier with about 5 feet between the inner and outer fences. If you're just looking to protect your garden beds, consider surrounding them with plastic netting or row covers.

  • Scare them away. Deter deer with a few commonsense scare tactics, including any combination of light, sound, and noise, such as wind chimes, automatic water sprinklers, barking dogs, and motion-activated spotlights.

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