How to Keep Deer Out of Your Yard

Want to tell Bambi and friends to get lost? Here are a several ways to make your message loud and clear.

Keeping House

They're pretty to look at, but deer can be a real nuisance. Besides treating your garden like a salad bar, deer can spread tick-borne Lyme disease. If these naughty creatures are a problem for you, try some of these tested techniques.

Put up a fence (or two).

Oh, Deer!

Since we build lots of new homes in Charlotte, we heard a story about a deer jumping through a window at a neighborhood high school in Charlotte, North Carolina. A student caught much of the action on video. (Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt.)

  • Install a mesh fence that's eight-feet tall (don't put up a six-foot fence, because the deer could get injured jumping over it, and no one wants a dying deer on their property).
  • Alternatively, if the height bothers your view, put up two 4-foot fences, spaced five feet apart. It's tough for them to jump two fences.
  • Make sure your fence is stapled to the ground every foot or so, because deer can crawl under it if they're really hungry. (It might make sense to have a professional install yours.)

Get hairy or soapy.

  • Since human odors deter deer, sprinkle bits of human hair around your favorite plants (ask your hairdresser if he can save you some of the hair cuttings that have been swept off the floor). You can also put the hair in a stocking and hang it in your vegetable garden.
  • Take a bar of Irish Spring to your cheese grater and sprinkle the bits around your garden. Deer don't like the scent or taste of soap.

Don't plant what they love.

  • Unfortunately, deer eat almost everything except grass. Things they especially love include roses, hosta, blue holly, rhododendron, tulips, American Arborvitae, and lots more.

Plant things they hate.

  • Deer usually don't like plants that are fuzzy, bitter, or coarse. Good perennial choices include: Bee Balm (red, pink or white flower that attracts hummingbirds), Salvia (deer can't stand these purple, early-summer spikes), Bear's Breeches (spiky blooms with big glossy leaves), and Butterfly Weed (which produce gorgeous orange flowers in the summer).

Try some cheapo remedies.

  • Keep a veggie garden? Spray your plants with hot pepper spray.
  • If you have a dog, have him “mark” your yard every few days­—dogs make deer nervous.
  • Install bright lights with motion sensors—unexpected light will frighten them away.

Ryan Homes Tip: For more home remedies and tips on how to avoid hitting deer while driving, read Deerproofing Your Yard & Garden (Storey Publishing) by Rhonda Massingham Hart.