Deer are creatures of habit. Once they establish a feeding area, it is very difficult to keep them away. It is therefore important to take preventative measures so that deer don’t get in the habit of visiting your yard and/or garden. Some common methods include putting up fences, homemade and chemical repellents, and planting things that deer don’t like to eat.

There are three common types of fences that can effectively deter deer from your property. One is a standard woven wire mesh fence. It must be at least 8 feet high since deer are such strong, agile jumpers and enclose all garden areas accessible to them. Stretch the mesh between metal or wooden posts about 10-12 feet apart and ensure that there is no way for deer to get underneath the fence. A strand of barbed wire along the ground can discourage deer from trying this.

A second option is a slanted fence. Although deer are good jumpers, they will not attempt to hurdle a barrier that is high and wide. Deer can be kept out by a fence that is only 4 feet high if it is also 4 feet wide. Anchor 6-foot steel posts in the ground 30-40 feet apart, burying the bottom third of the post. Attach a heavy guy wire along the top. Stretch 6-foot-wide wire mesh fencing at a 45 degree angle along the posts, securing the mesh with stakes at the bottom and attaching it to the guy wires at the top. Build the fence so that the deer will approach it from the side where the posts are anchored.

A third type is an electric fence. An electric fence only needs to be about 5 feet high to have the desired effect. It needs to have 6 strands of wire with each strand starting at the bottom and ending up further away from the garden than the one below it. Like the slanted fence, it must be at a 45 degree angle. When deer see the wires, they will usually only see the top wire since the others are farther away. They will try to go under the top wire, hit the lower wire and receive a shock. An electric charger can be purchased at any hardware store.

Homemade and Chemical Repellents
The following is a simple recipe for homemade deer deterrent. Mix these ingredients in a bowl, place the mixture in a spray bottle and spray in the area where deer frequent (T = Tablespoon, tsp = teaspoon):

1 T  cayenne pepper
3 T  kelp
3 T  liquid hand soap
½ tsp  oil of peppermint
1 Pint of warm water

Chemical deer deterrent products include:
Liquid Fence – creates a rotten egg smell offensive to deer; comes in spray form
Deer Scram – affects a deer’s sense of smell and makes them think that harm is nearby; comes in all-natural, biodegradable granular form
Shake Away (coyote urine) – also makes deer believe that harm is nearby; comes in granular or powder form
All Season Weatherproof Deer Repellent – triggers the flight response in deer; comes in containers mounted on steel stakes around the yard; odorless to humans

Although there are really no “deer-proof” plants, they tend to avoid plants that have poisonous properties or a texture/flavor/scent they don’t like. They tend to stay away from plants that have highly fragrant foliage, foliage that is fuzzy/hairy or thorny stems and leaves. Planting these varieties is the single best way to keep deer out of your garden. Here is a list of plant species that deer will avoid:

Achillea (Yarrow)
Aconitum (Monkshood)
Aquilegia (Columbine)
Arabis (Rock-cress)
Artemisia (Wormwood)
Asclepias (Butterfly Weed)
Centranthus (Valerian)
Cimicfuga (Snakeroot)
Coreopsis (Tickseed)
Echinacea (Purple Coneflower)
Filipendula (Meadowsweet)
Geranium (Cranesbill)
Geum (Avens)
Helenium (Helen’s Flower)
Helleborus (Hellebore)
Hesperis (Dame’s Rocket)
Monarda (Bee Balm)
Perovskia (Russian Sage)
Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susan)
Salvia (Meadowsage)
Saponaria (Soapwort)
Solidago (Goldenrod)
Tiarella (Foamflower)
Thalictrum (Meadow-rue)
Veronica (Speedwell)
Berberis (Barberry)
Buxus (Boxwood)
Calycanthus (Sweetshrub)
Cotinus (Smoketree)
Cytisus (Scotch Broom)
Euonymus (Wintercreeper)
Hamamelis (Witch Hazel)
Ilex Glabra (Inkberry)
Juniperus (Juniper)
Kalmia (Mountain Laurel)
Ligustrum (Privet)
Lindera (Spicebush)
Myrica (Bayberry)
Pieris japonica (Andromeda)
Pyracantha (Firethorn)
Symphoricarpus (Snowberry)
Syringa (Lilac)
Campsis radicans (Trumpetcreeper)
Celastrus scandens (Bittersweet)
Euonymus (Wintercreeper)
Hedera helix (English Ivy)
Lonicera (Honeysuckle)
Parthenocissus tricuspidata (Boston Ivy)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia Creeper)

Alchemilla (Lady’s Mantle)
Ajuga (Bugle Weed)
Arctostaphyllos (Bearberry)
Asarum (Ginger)
Cerastium (Snow-in-Sllmmer)
Convallaria (Lily-of-the-Valley)
Epimedium (Barrenwort)
Galium (Sweet Woodruff)
Juniperus (Juniper)
Lamium (Dead Nettle)
Pulmonaria (Lungwort)
Sempervirens (Hens and Chicks)
Vinca (Periwinkle)

Abies (Fir)
Acer (Maple)
Betula (Birch)
Carpinus (Hornbeam)
Cedrus (Cedar)
Cercis (Redbud)
Chamaecyparis (False Cypress)
Cornus (Dogwood)
Crataegus (Hawthorn)
Crytomeria (Japanese Cedar)
Ginko (Maidenhair Tree)
Gleditsia (Thornless Honeylocust)
Laburnam (Golden Chain Tree)
Larix (Larch)
Liquidambar (Sweetgum)
Magnolia (Magnolia)
Metasequoia (Dawn Redwood)
Oxydendrum (Sourwood)
Picea (Spruce)
Pinus Strobus (White Pine)
Salix (Willow)
Tsuga Canadensis (Canadian Hemlock)