To discourage deer from eating your garden, you have have five basic options:
1. Fence the deer out.
Although fencing your property or garden area takes time and money, this is by far the best solution. It will save you stress and hassle in the long-term.
Fencing can range from the black netting shown in the photo at left, to wire, wood, branches or stone. The important thing about fencing is that it needs to be high enough (six or even seven feet high) or wide enough (you can get away with a four-foot fence if you use the double fence method). Also, make sure that the deer can’t crawl under it (they are amazingly adept at flattening their bodies and squirming under fencing), poke their noses through the openings, or lean on it and push it over. I speak from experience!
2. Plant things out of reach of deer.
One of the best deer proof gardening tips I ever got was from a local landscaper who advised me to put my money into one mature tall tree rather than two or three small trees. If the branches are too high for the deer to reach the tree will be off to a good start. If you’ve already bought ornamental trees and they aren’t out of reach of the deer, I suggest you put fencing or wire cages around the trees for a few years to allow the branches to grow out of reach of the deer.
3. Scare deer away.
A dog can be your best friend in the deer proof garden. Deer tend to stay away from yards that have dogs. No dog? There are gadgets on the market designed to scare away deer. These range from scarecrow type things that move in the wind (or are even motorized) to automated sprinklers and floodlights that get triggered when deer get too close.
4. Make your garden unpleasant for deer.
The most common way to make your garden unpleasant for deer is to spray bad tasting stuff on your plants. My experience with this technique is that it is time-consuming (you have to reapply the spray regularly, especially after rain) and of limited benefit.
5. Choose plants deer don’t like.
If you can’t do #1 (fencing), then choosing plants that deer don’t like is your next best strategy. Here is a list of deer resistant plants.