Deer Problems and Gardens

deer problems

I have lived in the same home for over 25 years in a semi rural area.  We have a stream and large batches of blackberries and trees across the street from us.  Although this has been home to much wildlife including deer, we have had very little trouble with deer until this year. With the ongoing drought, this all seems to have changed.  This year I have a deer problem.  They are trying to eat my garden.

The other night they ate all the flowers and buds of my wife’s roses.  Fortunately, I saw them before they got to the garden and ran them out off the back yard.  While most of our yard is fenced there are a couple of openings I will have to take care of.  A big problem is that our fence is only 6 ft high and deer can jump higher than that, a fence should be at least 8 ft.  I have a lot of fencing and it would take a significant amount of work and worst money to raise it.  The garden is too spread out in small patches to just fence of the garden areas, I would need to fence the entire back yard.

So I have been doing some research and talking to people about how to solve my deer problem.  Unfortunately, the best solution, eating the deer is out, due to a multitude of problems.  So I am going to try various deer repellents and other methods of scaring them away.  I see deer repellent for sale at the nursery and on the internet, but it is quite expensive, some costing well over $100 for a gallon of concentrate.

So I have been investigating various homemade mixtures.  One that comes highly recommended to me is the following solution for your deer problems.

  • A bar of Fels Naptha soap
  • 2 bunches of scallions, chopped up
  • 2 heads of garlic, separate the cloves
  • 4 eggs, rotten is ok
  • Lots of chili or habanero powder
  1. Fill a five gallon bucket half full with water
  2. Shave soap into small pieces and dissolve in the water
  3. Place the scallions, garlic, eggs and chili powder in a large piece of doubled cheesecloth.  Tie up the ends and break the eggs.  Place the pouch in the bucket of water.
  4. Put a tight fitting lid on the bucket and set it in the shade for about a week.
  5. Spray the mixture around your garden.  It needs to be redone about every two weeks or after a rain.

I intent to try this mixture and will let you know how well it works.  The solutions for repelling deer are based on two factors, one deer depend on their sense of smell to find food, and two they are skittish.

Some gardeners swear by hanging fabric softener strips and/or wrapped bars of soap from trees, both of which can confuse a deer’s sense of smell.  Others point to using hot pepper sprays, garlic and rotten egg mixtures, ammonia-soaked rags, and bags of hair and/or blood meal around the garden for the same reason.  Even wind chimes were suggested, since strange noises and movement will scare deer.  One problem is that deer get used to strange things so the trick is to switch things up, learning by trial and error, for maximum efficiency.

An idea that I have had is to go to a local shop that sells hunting supplies and get a predator scent, that smells like coyote urine and sprinkle that around the yard.  It is not very expensive at about $10 a bottle.

One thing to remember is to be careful what you spray on plants that you intend to eat; you might get a surprise when you bite into a piece of lettuce covered in habanero powder.

A good solid 8 ft fence is always the best option, but it is not always possible.  I am still looking for better solutions to my deer problems, if you have a good one please share it with us.



8 thoughts on “Deer Problems and Gardens”

  1. We have been that route with the deer for many years. The one thing that I found which works well are the solar-powered led units that have the cracked glass globes. You need to get the ones that change colors. Deer get used to things being in the same place, e.g. security light, strips of white cloth, etc. If you move these once every 5-6 weeks they will stay away due to the changing lights and the movement of those lights. I also have a lot of fence around our gardens but the deer come nowhere near my yard (no “presents”). Will it work for you? I don’t know but it’s worth a try. Home Depot used to sell these in our area but I’m sure your local hardware store may also sell them. REMEMBER – get the ones with changing colors. Singular ones won’t work.

  2. Barbara Billig

    Squirrels, rabbits, and deer plus racoons and possums eat EVERYTHING. Will try your concoction. FYI if it is not edible to you….such as roses…spray with Ant Spray. Totally works. Hope I don’t need to grow a garden to survive. I would have to sit up all night outside. Am afraid to leave the dog out because of coyotes and mountain lions

  3. Angela Williams

    My original garden had a 6 foot fence. I wired some 1×2 sticks or whatever size I had to the post to extend the height to 8 foot. I then tied string to the top of the sticks around the garden. I then tied strips of cloth to the string ever so often between post so the deer think its fenced that high. It has always worked for me.

    1. That is what I was going to suggest but with a twist! I hear it works. Use a double fence. However, it can be just those green metal poles in the ground with a wire around the tops of them. Then, ties strips of cloth to the wire around the top. You could put another wire down lower on the wire and tie the cloth to that. Just a thought since I hear they can jump over 8 feet fences. Maybe not. I don’t know.

      I got some of the coyote urine to scare off raccoons, but they quickly learned to let their desire to get at my raccoons overcome the fear of coyotes.

      That concoction sound like it might make your life unpleasant. I thought at first you were listing multiple items until I read to mix it. It ought to keep something away!

  4. It is said that a six foot fence is completely adequate to keep deer out IF you add an additional single wire outside the fence about four foot high and four to five feet from your six foot fence. This wire keeps the deer from having the “lead up” rush to jump over the six foot fence. I’ve heard that it works very well and is very easy to install. It’s like forcing a high jumper to not have a run up before the leap.

  5. “mr. chips” has the right thought. lay some “tangle foot” aprrox. 2 to 4 feet on each side of the fence. deer do not like this as mr. chips said it does not give the deer enough “launch ” room to clear your fence .this “tangle foot acts similar to “trip -wire ” approach. if all else fails (but i’m sure this will work ; try puma urine. thanx howard, good stuff.

  6. I have a friend who has the deer and crows eat untreated corn as soon as it sprouts a inch or so. The way they get around this is to grow the corn in floating beds till it is at least six inches then transplant. This works for many crops since you can easily protect them in the early stages of growth.

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