Best deer repellents
Even one or two deer can become a major problem for people with outdoor plants or gardens. This is because they’re attracted to and will destroy most types of plants, from prickly rose bushes to blossoming fruit trees. Once they come, chances are they’ll keep returning until they’ve eaten through most — or all — of your garden. Luckily, there are several types of deer repellents, ranging from liquid and granule repellents to nets and electronic posts.
What attracts deer
Deer are attracted to many things, including:
- Scents — urine and sweet-smelling fruits
- Pheromones — artificial deer musk
- Mineral and salt blocks
- High-protein plants — turnips, kale, corn, peas, red clover, orchard grass, etc.
- Fruit trees — apple, peach, cherry, etc.
- Nut trees — acorns, chestnuts
However, they’re not easily deterred and can also chew through things such as raspberry plants and rose bushes.
How deer repellents work
Most deer repellents use a combination of the following things to deter them from entering a yard or garden:
- Smell: Deer have a strong sense of smell, so most repellents have an unpleasant odor. Common smells include fishmeal, dried blood and rotten eggs.
- Taste: More potent repellents combine taste with smell to ensure the deer don’t come back for more. Most deer steer clear of mint herbs, chives, lavender, onions and garlic.
- Sight or touch: Deer typically stay away from textures and sights they don’t like. This includes flashing lights, electric shocks and water sprays.
Some repellents can keep deer away by simply blocking them from reaching whatever it is they want to eat. For example, netting around a plant can prevent them from chewing on the leaves or budding fruit.
Deer repellent types
Here are the most popular types of deer repellent.
- Liquid: Usually available in a spray bottle, liquid repellents combine taste and odor to keep deer and vermin such as rabbits and rats away. They’re ideal for small gardens or use on potted plants. They need to be applied every couple of months, or after watering the garden or during heavy rainfall.
- Liquid concentrate: Long-lasting and affordable, liquid concentrate uses odor and taste to keep vermin away. It usually comes in a large pack, making it ideal for larger gardens.
- Granules: Around the size of pebbles or sand, granules are sprinkled around the base of plants. They emit a faint unpleasant odor, such as garlic, to keep deer away.
- LED lights: Most effective after dark, these devices use flashing lights to scare off deer. Some are solar-powered.
- Pouches: Designed to hang on trees or stakes, these give off a powerful odor that repels deer. They’re unobtrusive but aren’t as effective in larger spaces.
- Netting: This goes directly over the plants that deer and other vermin like to eat. It can protect the leaves, branches, flowers, fruits and vegetables of whatever it covers. However, it can also cause smaller plants to bend under the weight. It also won’t protect them against more persistent vermin.
- Jet spray: These are designed to spray deer with water when they trigger the sensors. They often go near the edges of a garden.
- Electric posts: Electric posts go along the edges of a garden and can deter deer by giving them a small electric shock when they touch them. They work for any sized yard.
- Pods or stations: Made to be put into the ground, these give off an unpleasant odor that keeps deer away. They look similar to small round pods and are usually unobtrusive. They can, however, be damaged if run over with a lawn mower or other lawn maintenance equipment.
- Fence: Deer can jump anywhere from 6 to 8 feet high, but if you have a high enough fence, you can keep them out of your garden. If the fence is slanted outward or solid, it can also deter them.
Most repellents, including odor, taste and mechanical ones, are nontoxic. However, some use harmful chemicals to keep vermin away from plants. These chemicals include:
- Lime sulfur
Although they’re highly effective, these repellents can also be dangerous to household pets and humans. They can also poison deer, rather than simply deter them.
8 best deer repellents
Offering several months of protection, this concentrate makes up to 2.5 gallons of liquid repellent. It’s available in one or two bottles, as well as a combination that includes a spray bottle for convenient application. It doesn’t wash off with the rain and can be used any time of year. Unlike most repellents, it has a minty scent that’s appealing to people but keeps vermin away. It’s also nontoxic to animals and people.
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Available in a 32-ounce ready-to-spray bottle, this repellent keeps away deer, rabbits and other vermin, but won’t harm them. It’s resistant to water and lasts several weeks or more before needing reapplication.
This 40-ounce bottle comes ready to use. It’s formulated with all-natural ingredients, making it safe for the environment, people and animals. It’s also resistant to water and has a pleasant minty scent.
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This solar-powered device is motion-activated to keep deer, rabbits, bears, opossums, dogs and other animals out of the garden. It hooks up to a standard garden hose and uses only as much water as is needed to repel vermin.
This four-pack of control lights flashes to scare off deer and other nocturnal animals when they cross in front of the sensors. It’s solar-powered and resistant to the elements.
Sold by Amazon
All-natural with a plant-based formula, this liquid repellent comes with a convenient applicator and lasts for up to 30 days. It’s effective on moose, deer and elk.
Measuring 7 by 100 feet, this roll of netting goes over medium and large plants and fruit trees to keep out deer, birds and other vermin. Each square is 3/4 of an inch, making this netting effective at keeping plants safe.
Sold by Amazon
Long-lasting and all-natural, this formula is safe for the environment, people and animals. It’s also highly effective at keeping deer away from plants. The bottle comes with a convenient trigger for easy application.
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