Deer Control in Home Gardens

Deer Fence

Deer Control In Home Gardens

Deer damage to home gardens and shrubs is the number one complaint in urban and rural landscapes. Using an integrated approach of repelling and/or restricting deer access is the most effective method to reducing damage. Deer damage permits are available to rural landowners, however, urban landowners must rely on other methods to reduce damage.



Repellents discourage deer feeding by having either an offensive taste or odor. No repellent is continuously effective, and what works in one location may be useless for another location. Factors which contribute to this variability are deer feeding habits and environmental conditions. Repellent application can be costly and labor intensive. Making the right decision about the use of repellents involves weighing the costs against the benefits. Generally it has been found that repellents are most cost-effective where the following conditions exists:


  1. low to moderate deer numbers
  2. light to moderate deer damage
  3. small acreage
  4. no more than 2-3 applications needed for control

If any of the above conditions are not typical of your garden, then you should evaluate the cost-benefit ratio of new low cost fence designs that are available. Even in situations of low deer numbers, some damage must be tolerated with the use of repellents.

There is a broad choice of repellents - human hair, soap, feathermeal, bloodmeal, creosote, mothballs, tankage and commercial chemical repellents. The greatest amount of protection for home gardens with repellents is obtained by using several different repellents and rotating their use.


Proper use of repellents is critical in providing protection. You must learn to carefully monitor deer activity so that applications are properly timed. It is much easier to prevent damage than it is to stop it after it is underway. Repellents should be applied before damage is likely to occur and before deer become accustomed to feeding on the crop. Commercial repellents must always be applied according to the manufacturer's directions. Other essentials for success with the use of repellents are as follows:


  1. Make thorough applications. Some repellents may require vulnerable portions of the plant to be covered before applying repellents.
  2. Watch the weather and repeat applications after heavy rains or when recommended by the label.
  3. With taste-based materials, cover new growth with applications every 3-4 weeks during susceptible stages. With odor-based repellents, monitor the range of influence, and repeat applications when deer begin to approach the periphery of a planting.
  4. If using a material to be hung on or near a plant, make placements close enough that deer will likely come into contact with the repellent.




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