How to Control Deer in a Garden


The overpopulation of deer has pushed them into areas populated by people. These areas are desirable to deer because they often feature a mixture of woodland and open areas with plenty of plants. Deer like to be able to dart back into the wooded areas when they feel threatened. In addition to damaging your garden, deer can bring pests like deer ticks (which carry Lyme disease) and spread tuberculosis. A fence is the most effective method of keeping deer away from your plants. If a fence is not an option, there are several other methods.

Step 1

Protect your plants. Cover your plants with row covers every night, and remove the covers every morning. Install tree protectors on your trees to prevent deer from damaging them. Deer like to graze on young trees.

Step 2

Redesign your garden. Choose plants that deer do not prefer. When food is scarce, typically in late fall through early spring, deer move into gardens to feed. Bitter, spicy, thorny and tough-leaved plants are undesirable to deer. If you use these types of plants in your landscape, you may deter the deer.

Step 3

Scare the deer away using motion detectors attached to lights or a radio, or use dogs to chase them away. This method works in the short term, but you will have to vary the location and type of scare device you use every few weeks, or the deer will get used to it. Deer can be scared off by a dog that patrols your property. It is recommended to keep the dog on your property using an invisible fence. This method provides light to medium protection, because deer can get used to a dog.

Step 4

Use a deer repellent. Some repellents are applied directly to the plants to make them less tasty. Other repellents are applied to the area around the plants to deter the deer with smells. Switch repellents periodically to prevent the deer from learning your pattern.

Step 5

Obtain a deer damage permit to allow you to shoot deer on your property. The availability of these permits will depend on your locality. Check with your city government to determine whether this is allowed in your community.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always follow the directions that come with the deer repellents. These chemicals are considered pesticides and need to be handled carefully.

Things You'll Need

  • Fencing or plant covers
  • Tree protectors
  • Motion detectors
  • Outdoor lights
  • Guard dog
  • Deer repellent


  • National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service - Deer Control Options
  • West Virginia DNR - Deer Control in Home Gardens
  • Wireless Deer Fence
Keywords: deter deer, garden pests, deer damage

About this Author

Carla Locke is based in Oberlin, Ohio, and has been writing since 1998. Her writing career began in technical writing and has expanded into Web content. Her education includes a Bachelor of Science in biology and an Associate of Applied Business in e-business technology.