Image from Amazon
When you were a kid, you probably found the sight of a deer peeking out of the woods a breathtaking moment of pure magic. Now that you’re trying to live off your land and grow your own food, the same sight probably makes you wonder how to find the best deer repellent.
There’s a reason we like to live close to nature – wildlife puts us completely in tune with our own place in the natural world. But we all have to eat! And nothing is more frustrating than toiling in the garden for months only to have wild animals feasting on your efforts.
If you’re not keen to hurt your local wildlife, your best option is to find the most best deer repellent to keep them from feasting in your garden.
Types of Deer Repellent
Image from Pixabay
There are several ways you can keep deer out of your garden. The most obvious method is using a barrier fence. However, many deer will manage to leap a 6-foot fence if they’re hungry enough.
Many people swear by natural methods using simple, homemade repellents. You can also opt for psychological deterrents, such as water sprinklers and alarms.
Another tactic for saving your garden from inquisitive deer is by choosing the right plants. While a starving deer might eat anything in the dead of winter, they definitely have their preferences. Along with selecting plants that put deer off, you can also interplant your garden with those that cause them discomfort and inconvenience.
If these fail to work, you’ll also find plenty of commercial products on the market that deters deer with their odor or taste.
Overall, though, it’s most likely that the very best deer repellent will prove to be a combination of all of these methods.
Barrier Deer Repellents
Most people think of constructing a barrier fence when deer ravage their garden. While it’s a good option, there are a few considerations before making such an investment.
First of all, you’ll need barrier fencing that’s at least 6 to 8 feet high to be effective.
Secondly, and perhaps most pertinent, fencing can be a costly option. And see-through fencing, which is less expensive, needs to be at least 8 feet high. After all, if they can see those delicious greens, they’re more likely to risk jumping your fence.
Along with cost, there’s also the time factor. Do you have enough time to construct a fence before all your vegetables are gone?
With these factors in mind, fencing is an excellent permanent solution, and they make the best deer repellent over the long haul.
Electric fencing is another option you can consider. You can even find wireless models. Electric fencing is less heartless than you’d think. The small shocks the deer receive on contact are usually just uncomfortable enough to deter them from repeating the experiment.
Electric fences can be less expensive than barrier fencing, but that also depends on your setup and the size of your garden.
The one downside of electric fencing is that it doesn’t distinguish between wild deer and your goats, your dogs, or your children.
Psychological Deer Repellents
You may chuckle at the idea of waging psychological warfare against the local fauna. However, what it comes down to is simply annoying the deer so much that they start to avoid your garden.
Deer are prey animals, so they’re easy to startle to begin with.
“Psychological” methods include ultrasonic devices that emit tones that deer dislike. Other tactics include motion-activated sprinklers and lights.
Homemade Deer Repellents
It’s easy to mix up a combination of various ingredients that repel deer. These could include a mixture of rotten eggs, human hair to leave a scent, or even the contents of Tigger’s litter box. However, do note that you should never use pet waste near your edible plants.
Chemical Deer Repellents
You’ll find a wide range of commercial deer repellent products on the market. Most use natural scents that are unpleasant, while others use odors that cause fear. Some use both.
Botanical Deer Repellents
One of the best methods for repelling deer from eating your crops is to plant crops they don’t like.
This can include plants that emit strong odors they find distasteful. You can also plant crops that are toxic to deer but safe for human consumption.
For extra protection, you can interplant companion plants that feature thorns or thistles to deter deer.
How We Reviewed
To find the best deer repellent, we consulted with a variety of sources, including home and garden specialist sites like This Old House and The Spruce. We also looked at the recommendations of websites focused on gardening, self-sufficient food production, and organic practices.
We also relied on information provided by government agricultural resources that have tested and ranked some of these products, as well as homemade mixtures touted as the best deer repellent formulas.
Finally, we considered rankings provided on several retail sites such as Amazon and Home Depot to identify which products have already won over happy customers.
We recognize that some variables, like user competence, season, and food scarcity can affect any product’s effectiveness. In light of this, we used retail reviews to identify trends in customer satisfaction rather than focusing on isolated customer experiences.
The Best Deer Repellents Using Barrier Methods
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While privacy fencing usually means an expensive and time-consuming garden project, you can find some faster solutions when your crops are under immediate threat.
[amazon link=”B000KM03W8″ title=”Tenax 2A120056 Economy Deer Control Fence” /]
If you need to get some deer fencing up fast without spending a lot of money, this heavy-duty netting might be the best deer repellent.Since it’s constructed of plastic, it won’t rot, rust, or corrode in place. It also features a 500-pound breaking load. Unlike most of the other deer-fencing we saw on the market, it’s also a full 8 feet high. You’ll get a 330-foot roll, which should be enough for most home gardens.With an affordable price tag, it’s lightweight and easy to install using metal deer fence posts.While only three customers have reviewed this product on Amazon, each one gave a glowing 5.0 out of 5 stars. You can also purchase it from Home Depot, where customer reviews averaged 4.1 out of 5 stars.
[amazon link=”B073X22BW9″ title=”DeerBusters 8′ x 100′ Welded Wire 14 Gauge Fencing” /]
While more expensive than the Tenax plastic fencing, this durable product from DeerBusters should serve you for many years.This wiring fencing features 14-gauge construction with PVC coating for a long lifespan. The 2-inch by 4-inch grid is small enough to prevent most wildlife from invading your garden.The steel grid is chew-proof, so you won’t have to worry about critters, including your pets, damaging the fence. Best of all, it’s nearly invisible, so you’ll have a clear line of sight when looking out over your garden. And it won’t detract from any ornamental landscaping, either.While only two customers have yet reviewed this product on Amazon, both gave it 5.0 out of 5 stars. This product received 4.9 out of 5 stars from customers on the manufacturer’s website, though you may want to be wary of possible bias.
[amazon link=”B00LA60ZY4″ title=”TRU TEST Patriot 820963 Pet/Garden Fence Kit” /]
This electrified fence kit may be the best deer repellent for small gardens if you need a quick, affordable solution.You’ll get 100 feet of poliwire with this kit, along with 10 stakes, a ground rod, connectors, and the PE2 energizer. While this kit advertises that it deters small animals, several Amazon customers have confirmed that it works for deer as well.Overall, Amazon buyers rated it with an average of 4.3 out of 5 stars. One Walmart shopper who left a review gave it 5.0 out of 5 stars.
The Best Psychological Deer Repellents
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You may choose to startle or annoy deer to repel them and teach them to avoid your garden. The effectiveness of this method can rely on several factors. The first is how accustomed your local wildlife is to humans. Another is how hungry they really are.Here are a few models to consider.
[amazon link=”B07T2X45CP” title=”ZOVENCHI Solar Ultrasonic Animal Repeller” /]
The ZOVENCHI repeller offers a passive infrared sensor that detects movement and produces ultrasonic waves to annoy invading animals. It also has flashing LED lights to further annoy any deer it encounters.To add convenience to effectiveness, it charges with solar power or a USB port, or run it on AA batteries. This ultrasonic repeller covers an area of about 5,000 square feet and picks up critters up to 30 feet away.It features a range of settings for a variety of nuisance wildlife, including a variable frequency setting.It’s weatherproof and works on drizzly days, though you may need to rely on USB charging with low sunlight.Amazon buyers gave it an average rating of 4.2 out of 5, with several reviews noting that it made the best deer repellent they’ve tried so far. One reviewer, however, stated that his deer were utterly unfazed.One downside, however, is that it also works on other animals. Your cat or dog might find the noise intolerable. Some people have reported hearing it, as well.
[amazon link=”B07SKCT4S9″ title=”Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer Motion-Activated Sprinkler” /]
This humane animal deterrent works day or night and scares away the deer with a short blast of cold water.Orbit boasts that it’s the only brand that offers 24-hour protection with nighttime operability. It’s also efficient, and you’ll get 7,500 activations on each set of four AA batteries. It also drives away pest animals using only two cups of water.Just stick the sturdy spike in the ground and hook it up to a hose. It delivers a 70-foot diameter spray, protecting up to 3,480 square feet.Your mileage may vary, and it bears repeating that the effectiveness of startle methods can depend on how the deer react to people.Amazon buyers gave the Orbit Yard Enforcer an average of 3.9 out of 5 stars, with several praising its ability to deter deer. Home Depot buyers gave it 4.0 out of 5 stars, with one 5-star review saying that it scared off deer and even a bear.One disadvantage you may experience with this model is that people can set it off too, if they’re not paying attention. That means getting soaked if you’re absent-minded. It may also be less effective in suburban areas, where deer are more accustomed to lawn sprinklers.
Best Commercial Deer Repellent Brands
Image from Amazon
One effective method you can use to keep deer from eating your crops is to invest in a repellent mixture from a commercial vendor. These can take the form of sprays or granules for easy application. They feature smells and tastes that deer find distasteful.
[amazon link=”B001PIM3RO” title=”Bobbex B550200 Deer Repellent” /]
The ready-to-use liquid repels deer using both odor and taste. The manufacturer uses natural substances for its formula. It makes use of some natural ingredients that deer find disgusting, like meat meal and fish meal.Best of all, it’s environmentally friendly and safe for humans, animals, and fish. And it won’t harm insects like bees and other pollinators.You can use it on any ornamentals and edibles plants before they fruit. Apply every two months during the winter and more frequently during the summer season. Best of all, If you let it dry at least six hours before rain, it should remain effective.The company boasts that the Connecticut Department of Forestry and Horticulture lauded it as the best deer repellent barring a physical fence.Amazon buyers rated Bobbex with an average of 4.4 out of 5 stars. Home Depot customers were even more impressed, awarding it 4.8 of out 5 stars.A few notes from reviewers on both sites indicate that deer can become accustomed to the smell after a while. However, on the advice of a professional landscaper, one buyer alternates with another brand of deer repellent spray when this happens.Another disadvantage to this particular product is that, according to buyers, it smells really, really bad.
[amazon link=”B000OM4RLM” title=”I Must Garden Deer Repellent” /]
Another popular brand of the best deer repellent formulas is the unwieldy “I Must Garden” brand. Their ready-to-spray mix boasts an aroma that’s pleasant to humans.This formulation features putrid eggs and garlic, along with oils from lemongrass, cinnamon, and cloves. This makes it both unpleasant for deer to smell and to taste. With these ingredients, it’s also people and pet safe.The manufacturer recommends spraying every 30 days as well as on new plant growth. It also claims rain-resistance if you allow it to dry at least an hour first.Amazon buyers were very complimentary and gave I Must Garden an average of 4.3 out of 5 stars. Although, it’s worth noting that reviewers said that deer eventually get used to this brand, as well. Two reviews logged on eBay also lend confidence, with both customers giving it 5.0 out of 5 stars.
[amazon link=”B00Y0W5CQG” title=”Liquid Fence 110″ /]
Liquid Fence is a brand that both customers and manufacturers use to compare the effectiveness of the best deer repellent formulas.The company specializes in consumer-safe, natural products for deterring pests in the garden. Their formula also uses rotten eggs and garlic, along with thyme oil.The instructions recommend applying the product to dry foliage and allowing five to six hours for it to dry before you expect it to rain.Amazon buyers give the Liquid Fence concentrate an average rating of 4.3 out of 5. Home Depot buyers agree, with another solid average of 4.3 out of 5 stars.Note that some reviewers complained about the smell, which can take a day or two to dissipate. Others said it worked well when sprayed more frequently than the instructions suggest.
[amazon link=”B07Q18F5DL” title=”Deer Scram” /]
[amazon box=”B07Q18F5DL” image=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41nrk%2B9o4%2BL.jpg”]
Many gardeners find that a granular or powdered product is easier to apply. For them, we recommend Deer Scram as the best deer repellent. It’s particularly effective for large properties and extensive gardens. A 25-pound bucket protects about 32,400 square feet.The company boasts that their product is biodegradable and environmentally safe. Most importantly, they say the odor isn’t unpleasant or harmful to humans.Deer Scram comprises dried animal products, like blood or meat meal, which causes a fear response in deer. It also includes pepper and cloves, most likely to cover the other odors.You can use it to force deer in and out of specific areas or use it as a perimeter guard. They recommend you reapply the product every 30 to 45 days.Amazon buyers rated Deer Scram 4.3 out of 5 stars, with most finding it one of the best deer repellent formulas on the market, if a bit more expensive than others.Collated reviews on Google, most from eBay, provide an average rating of 4.4 of out 5 stars.
[amazon link=”B00CFKHLFK” title=”Deer Scram Professional” /]
The Deer Scram Professional formula includes a higher concentrate of active ingredients, plus a few addition deterrents.Utilizing blood meal, garlic, peppers, and cloves, this high-grade formula is safe for ornamentals and edible plants.Amazon buyers give it an average of 4.3 out 5 stars, with many finding it easy to apply. One thing to consider, however, is that the stronger concentration of blood meal may prove extremely attractive to dogs. Another downside is that many found it overpriced.
Best Deer Repellent You Can Make At Home
If you’ve thought about some of the active ingredients in the best deer repellents, you may be thinking that you could make your own. And that’s what a lot of homeowners do.
One horticulture specialist even recommends letting your young children pee outside around the property to help repel deer.
Other “human scent markers” include using hair. You can spread the trimmings from haircuts around the garden or hang them inside an old stocking or net bag. The theory is that deer don’t like the smell of people. Again, remember that deer that live near a lot of people may not be deterred.
But if you’re like me, you’ve been eyeing the list of “rotten eggs and garlic,” and feeling confident you can mix up your own batch. How difficult can it be? Here are a few recipes you may want to try:
Stinky Deer Repellent Spray
This smells absolutely foul, but that’s really the whole point. If you decide to use a homemade spray, you may have to use it more often than a commercial spray. Commercial products contain emulsifiers that help the liquid adhere better to foliage. However, many home gardeners use a little blue Dawn dishwashing liquid for the same effect.
- Whole eggs (3)
- Hot sauce (3 Tblsps)
- Minced garlic (3 Tblsps)
Mix all into a gallon size jug or jar and fill with water. Let the solutions soak for two to three days. Then, put the solution into a garden sprayer. Use on plants when leaves are dry. Don’t spray on vegetables you plan to eat, just their leaves. Reapply weekly or anytime after it rains.
Extra Stinky Garlic Spray
This formula goes one step further by adding the odor of spoiled milk to that of rotten eggs. The dairy also helps it stick better to plants. It’s a great way to use up spoiled milk too.
- 3 cups water
- 3 eggs
- 4 Tbsps milk or yogurt
- 3 Tblspns cayenne pepper
- 3 cloves of garlic
Blend up to a mash and place into a gallon-size jug. Fill up with water then put a lid on the container. Shake to blend and let sit for two or three days, shaking occasionally. To use, strain the mixture into a garden sprayer to apply. Avoid the fruits of edible vegetables, spraying only foliage that you won’t eat. While it isn’t harmful, it may be hard to remove all the cayenne, even with washing.
Simple Deer Repellent
The Colorado State University Extension Office offers this simple and effective formula.
- 20 percent whole eggs
- 80 percent water
They recommend mixing and spraying every 30 days. You should remove any of the white membrane attached to the yolk to help keep your sprayer from clogging.
The Best Deer Repellent Gardening Practices
Last, but certainly not least, consider adding plants that deer don’t like to your landscape. There are many ornamental plants they do prefer, so choose other varieties for your flower garden.
For your vegetable garden, intermix companion herbs to cover the scent of the ones they do like to munch on:
There are some edible plants that people enjoy that deer don’t care for and may even prove toxic to them. While no plant is completely deer-proof, keep the following in mind when planning your garden.
Depending on your hardiness zone, the following fruit trees and bushes might be a good choice for your garden. Deer often ignore them — at least as long as something more appealing is there to distract them.
Hard to eat plants
Deer are often deterred from plants that are spiny or prickly, which makes them no fun to eat. You can choose these plants in edible varieties or simply use them as part of a barrier to deter them from more delicious plants.
While a truly desperate deer will likely dig up root vegetables, they’ll forgo the effort if something else is more appealing. Best of all, you may only need to protect the upper leaves with netting or a low fence to prevent them from making a meal of your garden.
One final solution — outside of hunting season — is to plant “sacrificial” forage for the deer. After all, you want your children to be able to see the local deer. You want them to feel that magical connection to the wild that you enjoyed at that age. And you may want to feel that again yourself.If you have room on your property or a fallow plot, consider planting clover, sugar beets, or some other forage that deer find irresistible.Part of gardening and homesteading means learning to work with nature. Not every harvest needs to be a battle. While you want the most food back for all your hard work, working with nature often requires some compromise.So, while finding and using the best deer repellent may save your harvest, a sustainable lifestyle means making room for nature in your life.Have you tried any of these deer repellents? How do you think the homemade and commercial formulas compare? What do you think makes the best deer repellent? Tell us what your results were in the comments.