Foraging deer can cause major damage to home gardens. These adorable woodland critters can ravage your yard by munching on foliage and trampling lawns. To a hungry deer, your colorful garden looks like a tasty snack.
Deer repellents can help prevent unwanted snacking and deer-proof your garden. The best deer repellent keeps peckish deer from grazing on your greenery, and it’s safe and easy to use. Using an effective deer repellent means that you (not the deer) can enjoy the fruits of your labor.
- BEST OVERALL: Deer Out 32oz Concentrate Deer Repellent
- RUNNER UP: Ortho Deer B Gon Deer & Rabbit Repellent Concentrate
- LONGEST LASTING: Bobbex Concentrated Deer Repellent
- ALSO CONSIDER: Enviro Pro 1025 Deer Scram Repellent
- HONORABLE MENTION: GARDEN SECRETS Solar Ultrasonic Animal Repellent
Types of Deer Repellents
There are a variety of deer repellent methods, and they all help prevent deer from wandering through your lawn and nibbling on your garden. You can choose from physical deterrents, chemical repellents, motion-sensing options, and more. The most effective strategies usually combine a deer repellent with other methods, like creating barriers with raised garden beds and choosing plants that deter deer. Using a combination of methods can help keep your lawn and garden deer-free.
Mechanical repellents and physical barriers deer-proof your garden and lawn without using chemicals. These repellents work by blocking the deer’s path or scaring the deer. Common mechanical repellents include walls, fencing, and deer netting.
Walls and fencing keep deer out. When installing deer-proof fencing, consider height, placement, and strength. Deer are strong animals, and some can jump as high as 8 feet.
Mesh deer netting is less expensive than constructed walls and fences. It is nearly invisible, so it feels less obtrusive. It is less durable than a wall or fence, but it’s a budget-friendly alternative to building new fencing.
Electronic deer repellents may rely on solar power, batteries, or plug-in power to operate. Electronic repellents include motion-activated devices, like sprinklers and lights.
Motion-sensing sprinklers shoot a burst of water when they detect motion. The surprise scares the deer and sends them running. One downside of motion-sensing sprinklers is that they can accidentally spray an unlucky pet or person. They also need a water source and run the risk of freezing in cold winters.
Most deer aren’t fans of bright lights. Some deer repellent lights detect motion and shine a light to startle the deer; however, deer repellent lights are only effective at night.
Like electronic devices, ultrasonic devices need a power source. Most often the source is either batteries or built-in solar power. However, they work using a specific pest deterrent method: ultrasonic frequencies.
Ultrasonic pest control devices emit high-frequency sounds to deter pests. These sounds are usually too high for the human ear to hear.
Ultrasonic deer repellents are a humane and noninvasive deterrent option. Some combine ultrasonic technology with motion-sensors and lights to scare deer away.
Taste-based repellents leave an unappetizing layer of flavor on your plants; your plants still look great, but they taste undesirable to deer. Common ingredients include spicy chili peppers and bitter chemicals. After a quick nibble, a deer will realize these greens aren’t anything it wants to munch on.
These types of repellents usually come in concentrates or sprays and are applied directly to the plant. While most sprays are semi-weatherproof, it’s important to remember that these repellents will wash off over time. Most of these repellents will need reapplication at least every few weeks.
Deer have a strong sense of smell that they use to detect predators, so scent-based repellents can help keep deer away.
Some repellents use smells that are unpleasant to deer but tolerable for humans, like peppermint or clove. Others have a foul or dangerous scent, such as rotten eggs or predator urine. Scent-based repellents deter deer from coming near your garden (not even for a nibble!) and keeps them away from your prized plants.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Deer Repellent
The best deer repellent will depend on your yard and your preferences. First, consider whether you might be looking for a permanent or a temporary option. Next, decide if a deterrent device or a taste- or a scent-based product is best for your lawn or garden. Here are some factors to consider when choosing the best deer repellent.
Natural vs. Chemical
Sprays, concentrates, and granular deer repellents can contain natural or chemical ingredients. Both types of repellents deter deer by affecting their sense of smell or taste. Some may cause a bit of pain, but without causing any harm.
Chemical deer repellents use synthetic chemicals to deter deer. These repellents often aren’t safe to use on plants you plan to eat. It is also important to consider pets or children who may come into contact with chemical repellents in the garden.
Natural repellents can include home remedies and naturally derived commercial products. Common ingredients include putrescent egg solids, garlic oil, and capsaicin. These products are usually biodegradable, making them an eco-friendly option. While naturally derived repellents may be a safer option if children and pets come in contact with the garden, not all natural repellents are safe to use on edible plants.
Deer repellents come in a variety of forms: You can choose from physical deterrents, barriers, granules, sprays, concentrates, and ultrasonic devices. Your choice may depend on whether you’d like a permanent solution, like a fence, or a temporary solution, like sprays or granules.
When it comes to physical repellents, aesthetics are one aspect to consider. If you don’t like the look of a fence or deer netting, you can choose a repellent device instead. But keep in mind that some physical repellents need a power source, like electricity, battery power, or solar power, and sprinkler repellents need a water source.
When choosing a scent- or taste-based repellent, safety is a common concern. Sprays, liquid concentrates, and granular repellents are made from a range of different ingredients. When treating a veggie patch, or if there are pets or children in the household, nontoxic options are a prudent choice.
Scent is a strong deterrent for many deer. Some deer repellents use threatening scents, such as the smell of blood or predator urine. Other repellents smell just plain gross to deer, turning them off to the area.
The problem with some deer repellents is that they don’t smell bad only to deer; they can smell pretty funky to humans as well. Deer repellents made from ingredients like putrescent eggs or predator urine can smell awful to both deer and humans.
Consider looking for a deer repellent that uses ingredients like peppermint or clove oils. These are examples of scents that deer dislike but don’t bother most people. They can repel deer without creating a stink in your garden.
Weather conditions can affect some types of deer repellents. Physical deterrents like fencing and netting are pretty much unaffected by weather. Most electronic options are weatherproof, but it is important to double-check that feature if you live in a rainy or snowy area.
Motion-sensing sprinklers are a great repellent option but aren’t the optimal for climates that dip below freezing. Since they rely on a water source, they can freeze in wintry weather. It’s a good idea to take in sprinklers in freezing weather to prevent any damage to the hose or sprinkler.
When it comes to sprays, rain and snow will wash them away over time. It’s important to re-treat your garden according to the repellent instructions. If you don’t, you might have some sneaky deer on your hands after a bout of heavy rain.
Some deer repellent options are more permanent than others. A fence will take a lot more initial cost and effort, but it can offer a long-lasting solution. Liquids and granules will have a smaller upfront cost but will need reapplication.
Devices like sprinklers and lights are a great in-between option. These devices are flexible and semipermanent. Some gardeners recommend moving them around occasionally to make the deterrent unpredictable and confuse deer. But they can also be left in place if they are effective where they are.
Options like sprays or granules have the least longevity, and they need more frequent reapplication.
If you plan on expanding your garden, it helps to have a movable deer repellent option. Fences and walls are a more permanent option and will take some disassembling to move around.
Deer netting is a physical barrier that is much more flexible than fencing, and you can rearrange netting fences to accommodate changes. Another option is to use the netting as a drape on top of individual plants or areas; it stops deer from nibbling and is easy to move around.
Sprinklers and lights also are a mobile option. They’ll require some installation work, but they are generally easy to move where you need them. Sprays, concentrates, and granules are the most flexible option. They are quick to apply and are used directly on the plants.
Many deer repellents don’t only deter deer; they can work on other critters as well. Some taste- and scent-based repellents repel other pests, like rabbits, raccoons, skunks, and rodents.
Ultrasonic devices and motion-sensing sprinklers and lights can deter many pests. Some have the option to customize sensitivity and range settings, so you can repel critters from the smallest bunny to the tallest deer.
Most deer repellents are safe to use on a wide variety of garden plants. But when it comes to plants you intend to eat, it’s important to use a nontoxic repellent. You can find deer repellents that are safe to use directly on fruits and vegetables.
Our Top Picks
The best deer repellent is effective and safe. It keeps deer from grazing on your garden and lawn but does not harm animals or humans. Other aspects depend on your preferences. You can choose from permanent or temporary deterrents as well as the option of physical, electronic, or chemical repellents. Here are the top picks for the best deer repellents.
Deer Out’s repellent is a scent-based, all-natural deer repellent. It does not contain harmful chemicals and is a safe option for pets, children, and the environment.
This concentrate uses a custom blend of ingredients and oils to keep deer away from your precious plants. Best of all, it has a fresh peppermint scent. This natural repellent is safe to use on edible fruits and vegetables.
Using ingredients that naturally stick, this repellent can last for up to three or four months under normal weather conditions. The 32-ounce bottle of concentrate makes 2.5 gallons of spray solution, which is enough to cover 10,000 square feet.
Ortho’s concentrate protects gardens from deer and rabbits. It contains putrescent egg solids, cinnamon oil, and clove oil as scent-based and taste-based repellents. This combination deters deer, but the “no stink” formula is tolerable for humans.
The 32-ounce bottle, when diluted correctly, covers approximately 10,000 square feet. When used as directed, it is safe for people, pets, and plants; however, it is not intended for use on plants grown for consumption.
Each treatment lasts around 30 days. This means you may need to reapply this solution more frequently than some other sprays. But for the budget-conscious, this concentrated repellent is a wallet-friendly choice.
Bobbex claims to have the most effective long-lasting spray on the market. This deer spray is designed to not wash away. It is safe for use on most plants, including many edible fruits and vegetables. Avoid spraying this solution on rough-skinned berries (such as raspberries and strawberries) and on edible leaves and herbs.
The formula is environmentally friendly and uses only natural ingredients. Its active ingredients include putrescent egg, cloves, and garlic oil, and this formula repels deer, elk, and moose. It’s safe for all wildlife as well as humans and pets.
This 2.5-gallon concentrate will make 15 to 22.5 gallons of spray solution, depending on the mixture concentration. During the spring and summer, a maintenance spray is recommended for new growth every 14 days. In the winter months, this concentrate can provide coverage for up to eight weeks.
Enviro Pr deer repellent granules are ready to use right out of the bucket. There’s no mixing or spraying required—just sprinkle the granules to protect your lawn and garden from both deer and rabbits.
These organic and all-natural granules use a biological scent-based formula. This product emits an odor that emulates the smell of dead deer but uses ingredients that do not smell bad to humans. There are no synthetic additives or toxic ingredients in this formula, and the granules are safe to use around people and pets. They are biodegradable and will eventually degrade into organic material.
The granules are rain and snow resistant and won’t wash off or dissolve too quickly. One application can last around 30 to 45 days.
From GARDEN SECRETS, the Solar Ultrasonic Animal Repellent doesn’t just repel deer; it can also deter birds, raccoons, skunks, rodents, and more. It uses ultrasonic frequencies which bother pests but are mostly undetectable to the human ear.
Since there are no chemicals, this device is safe to use around children. But it’s important to keep in mind that the noises may be detectable by household pets.
This ultrasonic device can be wall mounted or stuck into the ground. It is solar-powered and resistant to light rain. An attached LED light helps deter deer at night, and you also can adjust the ultrasonic frequency. The manufacturer recommends adjusting the frequency biweekly, so deer and other pests do not get accustomed to the noise.
FAQs About Deer Repellents
For effective coverage, make sure to follow the directions on your chosen deer repellent method. Each product has a different strategy to repel critters; some methods may be a permanent solution, while others may need reapplication or maintenance over time. Here are some frequently asked questions about deer repellents.
Q. What smells repel deer?
Deer dislike certain strong smells and smells they perceive to be dangerous. Deer repellents may use odorous smells like eggs, garlic, and cloves or ingredients that contain or mimic biological smells, like blood or predator urine.
Q. When should I apply deer repellent?
Start applying repellents when new plants emerge in the spring and with continued growth throughout the summer. Depending on the deer patterns in your area, you may prefer to use deer repellents year-round.
Q. How do I apply deer repellent?
Application will depend on the type of deer repellent you choose. Deer repellents can come in the form of devices, sprays, concentrates, granules, and more.
Q. When should I water my plants after applying deer repellent?
When using spray deer repellents, you should wait to water plants until the repellent is fully dry. Most products will specify how long to wait before watering your plants.