Appalachia

Deer Eating Your Garden?

How to keep deer out of garden
Deer captured on a trail cam on the ridge above the house 2004

On last week’s garden post, Blind Pig Reader David left the following comment:

Any tips for how to handle deer helping themselves to the garden?  Might make good blog material.

When I was a kid seeing a deer in this area was very rare. Hedden Road was gravel in those days and every Sunday after church we’d head out Hedden Road, taking a short-cut of sorts to reach the highway that lead to Granny Gazzie’s.

One Sunday we were almost to the end of road about to come back out on the black top when we saw a deer. Wow did we all get excited, especially Steve and me. Seeing the deer was like seeing an exotic animal. The way we carried on you’d have thought we saw a zebra or a tiger standing the side of the road.

Present day is a totally different story. I rarely drive through Brasstown without seeing at least a few deer in a field if not bounding across the road in front of me. This morning two young deer crossed right in front of Granny and me as we went to the grocery store.

Lots of folks in this area have problems with deer mowing down their gardens. Thankfully we haven’t ever had a problem. I’m guessing its because of the neighborhood dogs that roam around at will, especially Steve’s two: Griffin a chubby blue tick beagle that is so shy he won’t let me pet him and Molly a golden retriever looking dog that will climb in your lap if you let her.

Some folks build fences to protect their garden bounty from deer, but that is a very expensive route to take and doesn’t always work since deer can jump up to 8 feet.

Other tips I’ve heard:

  • spread human hair around
  • hang soap around
  • sprinkling urine around-both human and predator that you can buy
  • store bought repellents
  • noise makers  like B.Ruth’s deer startle

I’ve not tried any of the things mentioned since I’ve never had a problem with deer in the garden. I have heard folks say most of the suggestions don’t really work. While googling around for this post I found this video-seems like the method would work.

If you have any other tips for David please leave a comment!

Tipper

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20 Comments

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    July 15, 2016 at 9:15 am

    Tipper,
    The “deer startle” worked well…not sure why, maybe because of the “thunking sound” and confusing look of it! ha
    Even with a alarm light flasher with a built in silent alarm wave, only heard by animals the deer have
    ventured up to the edge of limb reach for falling June apples. They will risk life, limb and try their best to out run a “cheetah” just to get a munch on a moist fallen apple…ha
    Our tomatoes have been munched from the low side by…looks to be squirrels. I am going by the tooth mark size…A ground hog would take a whoppin’ bite or the whole tomato…No turtles this year.
    Even with close bird baths, the birds have pecked the miniature tomatoes for the moisture…
    Our enemy this year has and remains the “drought”! Our garden is a near total loss, even our well is getting murky after using some to water a few plants…We have never ever had this problem since buying the place in ’72, very frightening since we had hit a flowing underground stream of water.
    I think I would welcome the deer to desire a few munches of beautiful moist beans, squash or peppers. It would mean that the weather, moisture, heat and over all temperature are more in a summer time balance…not the extremeness of global warming!

  • Reply
    PAUL NELSON
    July 15, 2016 at 1:56 am

    I live in da forest of da lowcountry here in South Carolina and as you know Tipper I have a huge garden and have deer all around but they don’t come into da garden….. Why because deer eat what they smell and all threw out my garden are half gallon jugs of water with garlic cloves in and as they sit in da sun daily da smell gets stronger and stronger like sun tea and a aroma is across da gardens and deer hate garlic plus I also plant a bunch of Texas sweet onions……. anyway works for this old country boy……..

  • Reply
    Frank
    July 14, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    For years I too had “issues” with the four-legged friends… They just love our tulips, (aka deer-lolly-pops)… For the past four or five years I’ve been using a product “Deer Out”. Works great…! They no longer munch on my sedum nor the tulips…
    http://www.deerout.com/

  • Reply
    Colleen
    July 14, 2016 at 7:07 pm

    Tried many things that took up a lot of my energy and time. Second year we fenced in the entire garden with cattle panels. That was 30 years ago. Best investment we ever made.

  • Reply
    kenneth o. hoffman
    July 14, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    Tipper: i believe deer are Gods special creatures, so i don’t kill them any more, and the neighbor can put a tall fence around his garden ,if he don’t like um. blessings too the little piggies k.o.h

  • Reply
    TimMc
    July 14, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    10yrs ago it was unheard of in our parts but now they are coming around more often, haven’t had much problem, all thou a Buck did rub our service berry tree last year…

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    July 14, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    Even as far south as Milledgeville (Middle Georgia), deer are plentiful in our yards and wooded areas here. The last garden I tried to plant using a far portion of my back yard got “mowed down”, and my neighbor who seems to know such things told me the destroyer was a deer (or deer). They cut down all my okra plants when they were blooming and giving promise of a good crop that year; and devastated more plants, too. Now I don’t even “try” to plant a garden (and it’s not because I’m lazy! Age, stamina and–yes, deer and other critters–helped me to decide that all the work for little to no yield was not worth the effort). I hope not everyone gives up on gardening as I have!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    July 14, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    My strategy is to not let them get a taste of the things they like such as corn, beans, sweet potatoes, okra and morning glories. I do that by not letting those plants grow within a deer neck or nose reach of my low 4 to 6′ tall fence of 2″x4″ wire mesh. Like all the critters I’ve hosted, if they once find something they like they are relentless.
    If I were starting out fresh, I would look for 10′ tall posts and leave 8′ or so out of the ground or I would use 8′ posts but nail on a 2-3′ extension to get the discouraging feature up to 8′. Then I would run chicken wire in two 4′ runs overlapping about 6″ and attach to the posts with a staple gun. The small mesh would stop squirrels and – hopefully- chipmunks.
    I am pretty sure squash, Irish potatoes and tomatoes could be left outside a fence. However, deer will eat pepper plants to the ground also.

  • Reply
    Ken
    July 14, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    Tipper,
    I don’t have a problem with deer, even when I was a whole lot younger, we had to go several miles to find Deer. Now the blooming things are in my yard and are not nearly as easy to spook. The other day there was 3 does eating grass and one of ’em was a fond, eating blackberry briars at the edge of the yard. I could see their whiskers, they were that close, and my little dog Whisky had them bayed thought the glass door. Those boogers would just stomp their feet, daring him to come out and try to run them off. If I was like I use to be, all three would be in the freezer in no time at all. As I get older, I’ve softened alot…Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 14, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    If you have access to apples, pick up a couple of bushels. Every evening sneak out to a neighbors garden and toss a peck or so out into it. Choose a neighbor several houses away. A salt block will serve the same purpose but is harder to conceal so get a brown colored one if possible. If you are fearful of being detected, send your spouse to the front door pretending to sell Grit papers or Cloverine Salve. Or better yet that Almighty Dirt Buster super cleaner that makes anything inside or outside the house spotlessly clean with just one spray and 45 minutes of hard scrubbing.
    If your spouse is particularly good at engaging people in conversation, you might even be able to harvest a few fresh vegetables that are in arms reach of the gardens border. You should never ever step foot in someone else’s garden without permission. You need not feel guilty about taking what you can reach, reason being the deer would have got them anyways.
    **

  • Reply
    Melissa P (misplaced Southerner)
    July 14, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    We have deer (and fox, turkey, skunk, possum – yep, in Michigan, and coyote all in our immediate area). We, too have much more trouble with chipmunks and squirrels, but I’ve found a way to keep the deer away from my roses (they love ’em) and hostas (deer candy). I have an area down in a swale where the deer like to walk where I feed shelled corn every night. They don’t bother to come up to the house when there’s an easy meal that’s “safer.” When they do come up near the house, they get scared by the dogs, so they are quite content to stay down in “their” area and eat the corn put out for them.

  • Reply
    Lynne
    July 14, 2016 at 11:33 am

    I have a fence, they can jump it but choose to walk around. I have more trouble with chipmunks digging up my seed in the Spring than any other critters.

  • Reply
    Jackie
    July 14, 2016 at 10:30 am

    One strand of electric fence with peanut butter smeared on it.
    Two rows of stakes about two feet apart with caution tape, the inside tape about a foot above the outside one.
    A blast of my daughter’s trumpet kept them away for about two weeks.
    The only sure way is to eat them.

  • Reply
    harry adams
    July 14, 2016 at 10:06 am

    I installed a 5 foot fence around our entire yard (about 1 1/2 acres). Yes deer can jump an 8 foot fence, but they are like humans and will take the easiest route. I have had 2 deer in the yard in 10 years and those came through gates left open. Around the garden, I put a 2′ section of white pvc pipe on top of each fence post. To the deer it looks like a higher fence.
    Inside in addition to the garden are my wife’s flower garden , our fruit trees, and evergreens which hide the fence. None of which we could have if we didn’t have the fence.
    When we built the new house, I knew if I didn’t want to fight the deer, I had to have the fence. We counted 48 one evening in the soybean field.
    It was an expense, but I considered it an investment. Every time I visit a neighbor, he complains about what the deer have eaten.
    I have actually grown to feel sorry for the deer and plant turnips in a field for them. They know nothing but fear their entire lives. It must be like living in a war zone and then they starve in the winter. Don’t get me wrong. I still like venison better than beef. And like beef someone else kills the deer.

  • Reply
    Shirl
    July 14, 2016 at 9:18 am

    So far this year, the deer are staying in the soybeans and out of my garden. The squirrels and groundhogs are my biggest problem. Sevin Dust is the only thing that keeps the critters away from my vegetables. I still haven’t figured out how to dust the huge fruit trees. I have spent a small fortune on the dust this year, as it seems to rain every day.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    July 14, 2016 at 9:17 am

    Tipper-I’ve been in a twenty-year conflict with deer and, while I refuse to admit complete defeat, I’ve long been in abject retreat. Here’s some of the things I’ve tried. Almost all have worked for a time; none have worked fully for a long time. Once deer become accustomed to something they seem to lose their fear.
    *Shavings of Irish Spring soap around the edges of the garden.
    *Netting type fence the manufacturer calls deer fence.
    *Tin pie plates on strings.
    *Cheap perfume sprayed on tape stretched around the garden (the tape is sold with a chemical spray but perfume seems to work better).
    *My urine (I make a point of sprinkling whenever I’m working outside and the spirit moves me—as it does more frequently the older I get).
    *Clippings from the barber shop (good only until the next rain).
    *Scented garbage bags.
    *Those little rectangles of fabric you put in the drier with a load of laundry (name won’t come to me).
    *Old CDs on strings.
    *Scarecrow.
    *A blast of birdshot in the butt (I have a depredation permit from a game warden). This seems to work for the butt-blasted deer but none of its buddies.
    When I get really vexed with the deer, and they can do a great deal of damage, my ultimate answer at least makes me feel better. I will fix a venison roast or pot of venison chili and dine well.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Steve in Tn
    July 14, 2016 at 8:35 am

    I plant a little extra. The deer don’t eat much and the racoons let me know when the corn is ready.

  • Reply
    Lisa Snuggs
    July 14, 2016 at 8:22 am

    We’re having a problem with squirrels raiding our tomatoes this year. Somebody told us to mix up a batch of unsweetened grape Kool-aid without adding any sugar and spray it on the tomatoes. I assume to bitter taste repels the tree rats, as I had heard alum (pickling) works, too, but it’s expensive. The Kool-aid might work on deer, too. I’m going to give it a try.

  • Reply
    PinnacleCreek
    July 14, 2016 at 8:19 am

    I hung those child swimming boards with shark faces in trees and let them swing about. I also quit planting their favorite beets. Then I sprayed edges with deer repellant. A lot of effort, but worked so far.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 14, 2016 at 7:01 am

    Tip, I don’t have a garden but the neighbors tell me there are deer wandering here at night. There used to be more till they took down the two apples trees to build the tennis court. I do see tracks occasionally.
    I have another animal problem though, there are beavers building dams in my creek. The Deer Hunter demolished one dam and they just built another. Makes a mess of the creek and I’d love to be rid of them!

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