As an unwilling host to cute, yet destructive, deer for the past year, I've learned which repellent methods work and which don't.
Deer Repellent: How Do I Keep Deer Away From My Garden?
Over the years, I've had many deer visit my garden. Although they're adorable and charming, they totally lack the ability to pick up on social cues. Using bold and blatant tactics, I have attempted to convey that they have overstayed their welcome. I tried various methods to keep the deer away from my plants and flowers. Some methods worked, while others did not. I'll share my experience below.
Recipes for Homemade Deer Repellent Spray
The most effective natural, homemade deer deterrent is a spray made of putrid smells, namely eggs, garlic, and chili peppers. All you have to do is spray the mixture on your plants, and deer will not go near due to the offensive fragrance that the spray gives off. The following sprays have worked wonders.
1. Rotten Egg Spray
Eggs contain sulfur compounds, and when they decompose, they release a putrid gas called hydrogen sulfide. The smell is worse than a bad case of morning breath and will send deer far away from your yard.
- 3 raw eggs
- 3 cloves of garlic (you can add more if you want)
- 3 cups of water
- 3 tablespoons of milk or yogurt (milk products contain a protein called casein that helps the mixture stick when dry)
- 3 tablespoons cayenne pepper
- Blend the eggs, garlic, milk, cayenne pepper, and water in a blender.
- Pour into a container with a lid, and let it sit outside for several days to ferment.
- Strain the mixture into a spray bottle, and spray on plants and on the perimeters of your yard or garden. Please save any remaining repellent in a jar, and wash out the bottle after each use because the nozzle will get clogged if not washed properly.
2. Red Hot Chili Pepper Spray
This recipe is courtesy of North Dakota State University horticulturist Ron Smith. This guy knows what he's talking about. Warning: Handle the peppers very carefully—they are extremely spicy. Start the blender at the lowest speed to avoid splashing on yourself.
- 4 habanero peppers
- 1/4 cup of water
- 2 tbsp of olive oil (or vegetable oil)
- 3 tablespoons of yogurt or milk (milk products contain a protein called casein that helps the mixture stick when dry)
- Blend the peppers in enough water to liquefy.
- Strain the mixture through a coffee filter or cheesecloth into a jar with a lid. Don't skip this step, or the solids will clog the spray bottle.
- Mix in the olive oil and milk/yogurt. This helps the mixture stick to the plants.
- Add the mixture to a spray bottle, and dilute with enough water to get a 1:10 concentration (1 part mixture to 10 parts water).
How to Use Deer Deterrent Effectively
- Begin these deterrent methods in early March when deer begin forming their feeding patterns. If you make your yard unappetizing from the start, the deer will steer clear of your garden for the entire season.
- Reapply weekly and after a rainfall.
- If using a spray, spray in the early morning after the morning dew.
Read More From Dengarden
7 Natural Ways to Keep Deer Away
Try these low-tech and common inexpensive home remedies to keep deer out of your garden. Here's the list of what I tried on my neighborhood deer and how they worked. I suggest you try some of them first before investing too much money in other methods. Using a combination of concoctions seems to work the best. Rotate them often to confuse and confound.
1. Sprinkle Chili Powder on Your Plants
I sprinkled some around my plants and even on the leaves. This worked wonderfully because my plants are still intact.
2. Grow Deer Deterrent Plants
Deer don't like to eat smelly plants, and mint appears to be one of their least favorites, so I plant them around the perimeter of my garden. Other culinary herbs, like thyme, rosemary, sage, or lavender, work as well. I went a step further and planted some hot peppers around the perimeter. So far, this border defense seems to be working.
Other plants that deer hate include:
- Onion and garlic
- French marigold
3. Use Irish Spring Soap
Irish Spring soap smells really nice, and some creatures must think so too because many of the bars I set out were clawed and gnawed at. I found remnants scattered about. Could it have been the work of raccoons in cahoots with the deer? Hang unwrapped bars of this strongly scented soap in mesh bags. This could work if there aren't clever, thieving creatures around.