A mother deer and her fawn.
image by Christopher Hollis/commons.wikimedia.org
A few deer serenely grazing in your yard may look beautiful on a misty morning, but deer in your vegetable garden can be disastrous. Deer taste plants until they find things they like, and can nibble plants down to the root. They also trample your garden beds as they forage. In a few nights, a small herd of hungry deer can devastate a vegetable garden. Once deer have found your garden, they can be quite hard to get rid of.
Discourage deer from eating near your garden by making it unattractive to them all year around. Don't feed deer in the winter no matter how pretty or hungry they are. Keep your trash can locked or stored indoors to prevent winter raids.
Plant things deer don't like to eat around the vegetable garden, which may encourage them to forage elsewhere. Deer don't care for shrubs like boxwood or juniper, and they tend to avoid most perennial herbs like thyme and rosemary. Deer also don't like flowers such as sunflowers, iris, dahlias or foxgloves.
Deter deer by making them nervous with bits of foil hung from string, motion-activated lights or sprinklers, or wind chimes. Move these things around every week or so to keep the deer from getting accustomed to them.
Spread smells deer hate directly on plants in smaller gardens. Human hair often deters deer (you can ask for it at a beauty salon), as well as other things with strong human smells, such as strips of dryer sheets or cut-up bars of soap. Blood meal can deter deer as well, and it's a natural fertilizer.
Build a fence. A fence is the only foolproof way to keep deer out of your garden. Any type of fencing will work, even wire fencing. The fence needs to be a minimum of 8 feet high and buried a few inches in the ground to keep deer from slipping under it.