Instructables

How do you keep deer out of your garden without a fence?

I just planted a small victory garden in my backyard. The yard is mostly a steep hill, and the patch shown is just about the largest, flattest part. I planted cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, artichokes, and spinach. A few days later, everything but the artichokes has been munched, and there are hoof-prints all over.

So, knowing I don't want to build a huge fence for a small hobby-level garden, how should I keep deer out?

I live in a fairly urban Oakland, CA neighborhood, so despite what one might think -- and what I might enjoy --, hunting the deer is out. I read that human hair works as a repellent, but I don't need a hair cut anytime soon. Among other ideas, Country Wisdom and Know How suggests that I put a 4-foot barrier of chicken wire on the ground around the garden. Apparently, deer don't like to walk on chicken wire. Has anyone tried putting chicken wire on the ground?

They also suggest tying a dog up in the yard near the garden, but I'm more inclined to the chicken wire idea.

Picture of How do you keep deer out of your garden without a fence?
lebowski5 years ago
When our gardener did the first round of planting, he put up a motion sensor sprinkler head that hooked up to a garden hose. It looked pretty much just like this picture. I imagine is has some small battery inside it. I don't think they cost all that much, maybe around $50.
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ewilhelm (author)  lebowski5 years ago
I just got a Scrarecrow, which I will install shortly. If there are no hoof prints and no munched plants for a week, I'll select this as the best answer.
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ewilhelm (author)  ewilhelm5 years ago
It's been more than a month, and since I installed this thing, the deer haven't eaten my plants! I also look for hoof prints, and so far have found only three, which I presume are deer running through while being sprayed. Previously, there were hoof prints all over and even deer droppings.
awang8 ewilhelm5 years ago
Scarecrows are very effective but they are also very expensive!
Wow, very nice! Did you make it or buy it because it looks very professional.
AllanH12 months ago

are you allowed a fence? Consider a monofilament fence, with a single strand of electric wire (solar powered is nice). Very cheap and efficient! Slightly high up keep (I take a daily walk around, pissing everywhere), again very inexpensive repairs.

EricaH12 months ago

A hair cut isent needed. Next time you clean out your hair brush use that hair! I've heard if you peepee around your garden that chases them away

Bobbex2 years ago
Use Bobbex! It really works! www.bobbex.ca
jmadonna2 years ago
Personally, I've always used a deer repellent to keep animals like deer, squirrels and rabbits out of my garden. I found it to be the easiest way because it's not harmful to me, my plants, or the animal. They just don't like the taste of it, so then they never come back. The kind of repellent I use is Deer Off.
It's a natural deer repellent.
Johenix4 years ago
What scares deer?

1.) Predators. Go to the zoo and ask the keepers to give you a couple of big buckets of "Lion", "Tiger", "Jaguar", "Leopard", "Cougar" or even "Bob Cat" brand fertilizer and spread it around the edge of the garden. 

2.) Being where they can't smell a predator. Plant Mints and Marrigolds (French Marrigolds are good companion plants for tomatoes) and Nestersiums (companion plants to squash, pumpkins and cucumbers)  or other plants with a strong odour.

3.) Human scent. Put hair from the barber shop in an old nylon stocking and hang it in the garden. Also try strongly scented soaps in the same stocking. 

4.) Sudden flashes of light and noise. You could trigger an LED strobe with say an interupted laser beam bounced off a "Cats Eye" bycicle reflector. All electronics would be in one place. (When the photo cell doesn't see the laser beam bouncing off the reflector the device "fires".)
Big flying bullets!
Johenix Johenix4 years ago
Addition to #2.) Plant some Garlic. Mints include Mint, Peppermint, Spearmint, CatMint (Cat Nip). 
triumphman3 years ago
Least expensive method! Go to your nearest dollar store (everything is a dollar) and purchase four (4) bars of Irish Spring soap. Punch some hole into the boxes and place at all four corners of your garden. The smell will keep the deer away. They can't stand it! They are very sensory creatures , relying on sight, smell and hearing to survive! Works for me. Works day and night too. Old CD's suspended around your garden on strings , positioned so they spin in the sun, work well for daytime too. Even keeps birds, woodchucks, bunnies out of my patch! Enjoy! No worries mate!
A 257 Weatherby Magnum.
mimistigs5 years ago
For several years, I thought it was the groundhog that was nipping just the leaves from the virulent weed that multiplies when pulled or nipped (what one would do to make a welcome plant bushier, for ex.) Finally last year I got rid of most of it.... same year the dear started on the hostas on opposite side of yard... took a while to figure this one out... DUH... why did the deer not munch hostas before then? Have tried smells, bells, lights and all-night radio talk shows. No go. Our deer are very civilized. The sprinkler sounds like the thing.

Deer are just like humans...they have a great deal of preference for certain foods over others. Since you removed their favored food, they much on the second favorite.  Never ever plant hostas or tulips in deer country.  Its going to be eatten.

gorgonite4 years ago
I saw something like a Deer Repellent back in my school books. This was proven to work but no one could explain why?

Make a sign somewhat 1,15 meter tall with a large WHITE HEART sign on it. It has to be clear visible from the long range. Plant that sign near your garden so that Deer could see it.

It has been proven that it works, and costs almost nothing.

Why do deers void this could be probably mistake thinking that there is an other, bigger deer already in.
jacobzman5 years ago
put deer blued in your garden
Foxtrot705 years ago
After looking at the Scarecrow and the Sprayaway, one could build a multi head unit. A trip to the local Lowes, HomeDepot, etc and get some sprinkler heads, a valve and several motion detectors. Setup the sprinklers to spray outward from the garden, connect the heads on one waterline, run the sprinkler head water line to the output side of the water valve, connect the motion detectors (security type they have relay contacts as an output) to the valve coil and battery. Let the deer wash begin!
Gorfram5 years ago
1) Buy a smallish island farther from the nearest shore than a deer can swim. 2) Carefully inspect all portions of the island, removing any existing deer. 3) Now you can safely plant your deer-delicious garden.
Bardouv5 years ago
I had a similar problem where I planted some taters, unknowingly in the middle of a game trail. So I would urinate into a jar and pour it around the perimeter whenever possible. It seemed to work.
DottieM5 years ago
I suggest you use the CD method. Just hang from fishing line between some type of posts around the perimeter of your garden. Ours are hung about 10' high, lower will work but don't hang yourself on the fishing line! Neighbors thought we were nuts, but it's been working for years. Good luck.
munchman5 years ago
Um..... lasers? Or you could just grow artichokes. Yeah. But seriously, could you just border your whole backyard with chickenwire, that way it would only be visible when you are near the edges.
Wafflicious5 years ago
Get a couple deer licks and put them away from the garden maybe.
jtpoutdoor5 years ago
Well we used to have a dog who would patrol the boundaries when let out and piddle on every fence post (the fence wasn't high enough to stop deer jumping in) and we never had any problems- you could borrow a (male) dog and let him do his stuff on a regular basis- OR you could try this- it's supposed to stop foxes, mice, dogs etc so might work for deer. Get some hairy garden twine and some creosote, wear your oldest clothes and several pairs of gloves (unless you like the smell of phenol- personally it makes me feel sick!) Soak the twine in the creosote and run a length around the garden- for small animals just peg it down to the ground but for deer you should probably put it up a bit higher- say hang it on some poles. Creosote is water soluble and toxic to plants (and just about everything else) so make sure you don't hang it over anything precious or edible. You will need to renew the string every so often- ie when it stops stinking. Put it as far away from where you will be working as possible so you don't have to put up with the smell. You might find that if you can find a way that stops deer coming in that they will take the hint and not try for a while- ie they'll look for easier pickings- see if you can persuade your neighbours to grow deer friendly crops so they go there instead ;-) Now does anyone know how gto keep the Australian Possum out of your garden?
Gah, the Australian possum. In Canberra they sit outside your bedroom window & fight each other. They make this horrid growl that scared me cold the first time I heard it, not knowing what it was.
Well, the Australian possum kinda munches all out plants, knocks over all the plastic pots and causes general havoc (stepping on flowers ect.).
We had one climb into our back shed, we closed & locked the door but it just chewed its way out through the wooden door, it just goes to show they'll chew their way through anything.
compicated solution. I have got a book called "electronic projects for the evil genius" and one of the projects in there is a thing called a "pain gun". it produces a ultrasonic sound wave that makes animals run away. if you rig up a sort of laser "trip wire" to set if off automaticaly, then the deer would go away, and its an interesting project to try out at the week end.
Yeah, I think Eric can make that at Squid Labs.
kikdvd5 years ago
Well I live in a farming community, and all the really old farmers swear by this method, and I have heard it works. You put some sticks that stick up about waist high into the ground on all four corners of your garden, ( not near the plants, but back out away from them ), and then you soak some rags in deisel fuel, and then ring them out real good, and tie the rags onto the tops of the sticks. Supposedly they hate the smell and will not come near it.
Mike sr kikdvd5 years ago
Mo' better than diesel. Just pee on the rags every two or three days, Works like a charm. Mike
easystuff5 years ago
this works really well and has for a loooong time. ok, go to your local barbor or salon. get them to sweep up asmuch hair as possible. a garbage bag if you can. put the hair on the ground around your garden area. dear are very sensitive to smell and will leave the area for a while. the more often you do this the longer they will stay away. do it every couple of weeks.
Hair! Hasn't got the smell of lion do do, if you leav out just one lump of lion stuff, deer will smell it from half a mile away as will the local wildlife as well as pets and cats, you wont see a cat for miles and dogs will suddenly be terrified of going out. Having seen the power of lion poo in action, seeing a huge rotti whimpering like a baby, that was choice.
or shave your pits and gonads (eeW!!) it's a stronger small!
seconded
seconded
In my opinion, blackberry bushes make a good perimeter bush and will provide you with blackberry goodness too. Trestle them properly and you won't have to let them get so wide that you can not reach the center of the bramble. This could also allow you to have small sections of fence or a "gate" somewhere around your garden. Aside from an Asimo wearing old work clothes, not much will deter a dedicated animal, including deer, from getting to the tasty greens. Another method I found useful was leaving something out for them, depending on you climate, tomatoes are hardy and delicious as well as certain varieties of leafy greens. In any case, I recommend researching your local tips and tricks while you develop your garden. Have a wonderful day in the garden.
One thing I have learnt with black berries is they will definitely not deter goats. 'When living on a farm we had a complete top paddock filled with blackberry, the goats escaped one day and ate half of it while I was at school.
Never had any experience with goats, though I once met a man who had a pygmy goat wearing a blue and green polo shirt that rode along with him in his truck :)
Hehe, lol. Nope I can honestly say I have never seen a pygmy goat, or a goat wearing a blue & green polo shirt, let alone a pygmy goat wearing a blue & green polo shirt riding in the back of a truck. I did once see some one who gave their dog too much leash on the back of their ute, it was horrible, they were driving through town with the dog hanging by the collar over the edge of the back of the truck. It was probably dead before the driver even knew.
rhaubejoi5 years ago
You dont have to cut your own hair to get some hair for your garden. Go to a barber shop, or beauty salon and get it there. Also, If you are NOT a vegan, you can urinate at the edges of your yard (NOT close to the garden!) to keep the deer away. Needs to be carnivore pee though, that is why it cant be vegan pee.
DiannaLynne5 years ago
Two tactics have worked for me: an egg or two in the blender with water, place in squirt bottle and spritz the perimeter of the garden - and on places like ornamentals and fence posts to create a "scent fence" that will repel deer. They can't stand the sulfur. Keep the bottle in fridge and refresh the scent after a few days, or after rain. Haunt the thrift stores for one or several "Big Mouth Billy Bass" and place in the area where the deer enter the area. If a little bit of light shines on them, the motion detector will trigger the motion and sound, scaring the bejeebers out of deer, bunnies and the occasional neighborhood cat or dog, causing them to stay clear of your garden.
That's just awesome. I can't think of a better place for those annoying fish. At least when you hear the fish singing you'll know to look out to see the culprit. This year we'll try this in conjunction with the motion detector sprinkler.
mr. natural5 years ago
I have hung cd's to sparkle in the sun, tried coyote urine, Irish Spring rope on strings, even 12 foot tall fences. The ONLY thing I have ever found that will repel the deer and other munchers (alas not the slugs!) is the motion activated sprinklers and they WORK. Watch out, they will spray you in the butt if you are not paying attention! (-;
IRISH SPRING - I read this one in American Hunter magazine - It said that hanging bars of Irish Spring soap in and around the garden would repel the deer. Then it went on to ask - WHY would a hunting publication tell you how to repel deer? The answer was: Think about it! No - I haven't tried it - I like the deer in my yard. Also - Oakland is zone A1 (I live only a couple of miles south of you) and in season a cross bow WOULD be legal - but of course ONLY for bucks and how often do you see one of those.
netbuddy5 years ago
Simplest and most effective will be lion poo. You can pick up this from a garden centre, if they do not do it then you should go to a bigger chain that will do. In the UK all the garden / home improvement depots have this on sale. It is most effective when wet as it has a stronger odour. As the deer will pick up on the scent and be intimidated by the fact that theirs something around that could eat them. A 25 kilo bag should last you a long tim as you will not need much of it.
ajah netbuddy5 years ago
In some parts of Canada we use Coyote Urine. It works quite well but you do have to re-apply it after rain. Another tip I was given was to dip a rag into gear oil as it has a pretty bad odour as well. Hope this helps someone.
go to the zoo!
dear are very polite creatures im sure if you ask nicely they'll leave ur garden alone
You can kill them.
dinner as well?
kidding.
jhoff5 years ago
Most of the sprays you can buy work well, I use them for some of my landscape clients. the spray will NOT work 100%. you need a fence, but if you don't want one then make the spray out of all the worst smelling things you can think of. Eggs. fish oil...... etc. blend them up and put them in to a low pressure sprayer. coat all of the plants with it. you have to do this after every rain, or you can use a fertalizer called molorginite. it is made out of kiln dried human fecies, so wash your hands after. you dump the bag in to a road cone and make a one inch wide trail around all of your planting areas. or you can amend it in to the soil with the plants. this is also not a 100% but it will help. good luck and if nothing works, find a friend that hunts.
but spraying the crops with that will mess up the taste. use it on the surrounding plants. or you could grow some garlic or oinions with your veggies. wusabi would also be quite effective
You need a fence, or a really thick hedge. the other option is to rig a motion sensor up to a birght light, or a buzzer*- as this will scare off wild animals. *you could have a recording of a dog barking!! you could inject a few plants with poison- to make them realise that your veggies aren't that tasty. but renember what ones you did it to- so you dont eat them.
urine human will work okay but wolf will work better. i think you can buy wolf urine in bulk online
LOL
suzholt5 years ago
I have heard of 'hair' too. As stated from themeatloaf. I thought of cutting all of the kids hair in the middle of the night.lol. But I think I might settle for a pair of my sons old shoes.
saidthety5 years ago
A gun
A bar of soap should work. I used to do a lot work around my grandma's yard and she would hang a bar of soap on a string from a tree. She told me that the smell is too strong for the deer to handle and that it can last for up to six months to a year. Any brand will do.
We live in a heavily deer-populated area. What really works is Sweeney’s All Season Weatherproof Deer Repellent. IAll Season uses dried blood, a scent-based repellent, to trigger an innate “danger” response in deer, which, in turn, causes a flight response. (Studies have shown that, next to fenced enclosures, blood is the most effective way to repel deer.) All Season produces no noxious smells to humans and is a safe, natural, environmentally friendly product that can be used in any garden, including vegetable gardens. The repellent is packaged in a weather-proof container that is designed to allow the scent to escape but keep rain and other elements at bay. Just stake the containers in the ground or hang them in shrubs four to eight feet apart throughout the desired protection area. No reapplication is necessary - an added bonus! For more information on All Season check out www.wrsweeney.com.
There are deer resistant plants like marigolds, lilac, etc. If you plant these as a beautiful border they will stay away from your eating plants. Also plant something they CAN eat in another area of your yard to make that area more attractive to them. Seeds for these plants are inexpensive. There are books on the subject. Check out the library and internet for a list of plants deer do not like. This isn't perfect because if hungry enough they will eat anything but it should make things easier for you with little expense.
themeatloaf5 years ago
Human hair! Mix hair in to the soil, the sent of humans will keep them away. Go to you beauty shop to get the hair.
gardenfan5 years ago
There are some very good home remedy ideas listed here; however nothing works as well as Plantsydd. This product is guaranteed to keep deer and rabbits away from your plants. Garden Harvest Supply is a good online source for Plantskydd, http://www.gardenharvestsupply.com/category/plantsydd-deer-repellant-deer-repellent
Also yes, deer do not like walking on what feels like unstable surface like fencing, or getting trapped in the fencing for that matter.
When neighbor dogs got into my trash, i found online putting some bleach on top of it works.
Go Clint Eastwood on them deers.

Get off my lawn...
Or get a hunting permit...
Wasagi5 years ago
As Thelonleysandwitch said, cayenne pepper would work, but just plain Black pepper would work as well. Just sprinkle it around the patch, and a bit on the plants, and it should repel the deer, as humans are the only mammals that are reasonably fond of spicy flavors...
sound915 years ago
The other thing besides human hair that I know of is hanging a couple of CD's around because the reflecting light can bother them.
Kiteman5 years ago
Try scrounging predator-urine from a local zoo. Any large cat will do the job, wolf may also work.
8bit Kiteman5 years ago
Have heard humans' works well too.
you can use Cayenne paper to keep them away. once they smell it, they will turn away. it doesn't harm them either.
Brennn105 years ago
Working at a nursery over the summer, the manager requested Deer Scram. If I recall, it is made up partially from dried deer blood. But don't quote me on that. He just told me that it works like a charm for anyone with a deer problem.
alextippins5 years ago
i dont think this would work since you have plants im assuming youre going to eat but, ive heard even human urine will deter deer but i doubt youd want urine near anything you plan on eating
BeanGolem5 years ago
I would suggest building something similar to a Scarecrow, but call it a Scaredeer. I guess you could stuff it with human hair instead of straw.
marc925 years ago
Coyote urine repels deer. It can be purchased at any home improvement store. It often comes with small bottles to hang up that hold the stuff and let the scent out.
magworks75 years ago
A friend of mine suggested using Lion Dung as fertilizer. There are some zoos you can get this from real cheap if not free. Cayenne pepper has been also used as a barrier from smaller animals as a deturent as well.
randofo5 years ago
You can get an array of high-tech pest control systems from Information Unlimited.
fwjs285 years ago
there is possibly a liquid or spray for it....sort of like what is for dogs....heres a start