Deer may be charming to look at until they start grazing on your prize roses and vegetable garden. Deer live in suburban landscapes throughout many parts of the United States and are difficult to move. They cause damage to trees by eating the bark and scraping it with their antlers. They lack incisors and shred succulent young perennials and vegetables.
Deer repellents fall into two categories--contact and area, according to Colorado State University. Contact repellents, such as Deer Away, and Hot Sauce, are products applied directly to a plant to make it taste unappealing. Area repellents are sprayed on the soil and surrounding vegetation and have a foul smell that deters deer. Coyote urine is an example of an area repellent.
Repellents vary in their ability to deter deer. The listed commercial applications are rated highly effective by Colorado State. Some home remedies, including bars of soap and human hair, have a medium to low level of effectiveness. Chicken eggs mixed with water and sprayed on trees and vegetation is a highly effective home remedy, advises Colorado State University.
Area and contact deterrents should be applied according to package directions on a dry, calm day when temperatures are above freezing. Apply the product to thoroughly coat the plant and reapply when new growth appears, advises West Virginia University. Products may need to be re-applied after rain. The egg mixture is weather resistant for up to 30 days.
The best alternative solution for deterring deer is installing a fence. Mesh, wire or even electric fences effectively keep deer away from the yard. Scare devices or a leashed dog may temporarily deter deer but aren't a good long-term solutions, Colorado State advises.
Deer will eat almost any plant, especially in the spring when they're hungry and new growth is tender. Some plants, though, are more tempting to deer than others. Roses, tulips, strawberries and garden greens are among their favorite treats. Planting these crops in the middle of less desirable plants or close to the house may provide some protection. If deer are really a nuisance, consider growing plants known to be deer resistant, such as lavender, blanket flower, daffodils and black-eyed Susan.