Gardening with deer can test your patience as you try to repel, exclude, and outsmart these four-legged munching machines. While the only truly foolproof method for eradicating deer from your garden is an 8-foot fence (which is pricey and not the most lovely sight), you can foil deer by incorporating several practices into your gardening routine.
Start with plantings. When possible, choose deer-resistant plants. The list is long, and includes annuals and perennials. Some deer-resistant annuals include ageratum, heliotrope, dusty miller, nasturtium, salvia, tithonia, vinca, and nasturtium. Perennials that deer tend to avoid include coral bells, lamb’s ears, echinops, bleeding heart, astilbe, Lenten rose, ferns, Russian sage, pachysandra, and coneflower.
Deer will occasionally nibble deer-resistant plants, but on the whole they tend to avoid them or simply take one bite and move on.
Try repellents. Several repellents on the market work fairly well at giving deer the brush off. Examples include Ro-Pel, Liquid Fence, Deer-Away, and Hinder. Apply these materials to foliage every 10 to 14 days to keep the odor strong and fresh. Sometimes rotating repellents has a better effect than using one repeatedly.
Physical barriers. Stringing a single strand of electric fence about 3 feet high around a garden or property can help exclude deer. The height works because deer sniff before entering an area, and as they lower their heads to sniff, they’ll get shocked. You can even bait the wire—to teach the deer of its power—by smearing a piece of aluminum foil with peanut butter and attaching it to the wire..
• Include deer-resistant plants in planting beds to discourage deer from feeding.
• Surround desirable, deer-favorite plants with resistant ones.
• Treat plants with deer repellents every 10 to 14 days for the most effective control.
• Place a single strand of electric fence 3 feet high to give deer a repelling shock.