1Do Marigolds Keep Deer Away? Do They Really Work?

By Paul Smart •  Updated: 08/12/22 •  7 min read

Do Marigolds Keep Deer Away? Do They Really Work? If you live in an area that has a high deer population you may be looking for ways to protect your garden from deer. There are many different sources that claim that certain plants act as repellents keeping these pesky animals away from your garden. So does that really work with marigolds or is it just another wives’ tale?

Marigolds are considered to be relatively deer-resistant plants however evidence suggests that they do not act as repellents for any appreciable time and will not stop deer from actually entering your property and eating other plants.

There have been several studies associated with different types of repellents that work purely on fragrance and sense. These studies have demonstrated that even the most effective odors for keeping deer away will typically only stop them for a period of around 10 to 12 weeks at which point they will begin to become used to the smell. To read more about this particular study click on the link here.

So if deer repellent plants don’t really work what can you actually do to stop the little critters from getting into your garden? There are several methods that gardeners use to protect their gardens, however, the effectiveness of these methods does vary substantially.

Methods For Protecting Gardens From Deer

As mentioned above there are a whole heap of different methods that are used by gardeners however the only one that I know of that is 100% effective is to exclude the deer entirely from your garden or from individual plants. If you have a relatively small selection of plants that you want to protect you can think about putting in individual guards on them, however, they are typically not the most attractive things because you need to have a relatively strong mesh around the plants so the deer cannot bend the protective structures too easily.

However, the other method that is commonly used in some cases is to fence your entire garden but to do this effectively the fences need to be approximately 8 ft tall. The reason for this is because there have been several academic studies that have shown that deer are capable of jumping 6 ft high fence in most cases. 

Therefore to avoid any temptation to attempt to jump the fences they need to be a few feet taller than that again. However, for a lot of people having a large fence around the garden is a fairly extreme measure that is pretty expensive and sometimes even impractical to put in place. so what are the other methods that you can use?

Structuring Gardens To Discourage Deer From Entering

There are a few things that you can do that will discourage the deer from entering your garden in the first place, however, these are far from foolproof techniques. The first method is to incorporate plants that the deer do not like to eat into your garden as often as is practically possible.

As a general rule deer do not like to eat plants that are either toxic, thorny, or highly fragrant which is one of the reasons why marigolds or sometimes recommended as deer repellents. These plants will generally reduce the damage but they certainly will not stop it.

The types of plants that are absolutely ideal are relatively tall plants that you can put in the outer parts of your yard because that will reduce the visibility of other parts of your garden which may be more attractive to the deer. Things such as relatively large lavenders and rosemary plants are absolutely ideal.  

The other plants that also are ideal are toxic plants such as euphorbias, foxgloves, and lily of the valley to name a few. These plants will definitely not be eaten by deer very much. Apart from these types of options the other thing that you can do is purchase deer repellent systems which also vary in their effectiveness quite substantially depending on the nature of the product. Deer repellent systems can generally be divided up into mechanical or chemical repellent systems.

Chemical Deer Repellent

Chemical repellent systems can be divided up into 3 major categories which include fear-inducing products, pain-inducing products, and those products which alter the fragrance of the plant. Of these products, the most effective by far is the fear-inducing products because they frightened the deer away before they can do any damage.

These products are typically made of things like blood, coyote urine, and putrified egg which trick the deer into believing that there is a predator nearby. However, testing of a range of commercially available deer repellents has shown that even if the repellents are highly effective they only last for approximately 10 to 12 weeks. After this point in time, the deer will begin to return to their normal feeding habits.

As a result of this we generally recommend that if you’re going to purchase a chemical repellent system you buy more than one type of repellent and rotate their use every three months or so to reduce the chances of the deer becoming a custom to the product.

The two products that we recommend are deer out and plantskydd because they are both fear-inducing repellents that are made of different ingredients and therefore smell different. To check out the latest price for these particular items click on the links above to visit Amazon.

Mechanical Deer Repellents

Like the chemical repellents, there is also a range of mechanical deer repellents that are sold in the market which also can be divided into 3 categories which are motion-activated sprinklers, ultrasonic products, and predator eyes.

Of these three products, the motion-activated sprinklers are generally the best, however, they do suffer from the same problem as the chemical repellents in that the deer do quickly become accustomed to their presence which means their effectiveness does wane over time.

To optimize the performance and effectiveness of these types of products it is advisable to use them sparingly at critical times of the year such as when there is a vegetable harvest coming up. Additionally, it also helps to move them around the garden so that the deer do not become accustomed to their location.

If you are considering a product like this the product we would recommend is the Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer which has a 40 ft detection range and a fairly wide angle coverage which means that you only need to use one or two sprinklers for most yards. To check out the latest price on this product click on the link above.

The second type of product that is sold widely is ultrasonic products however these products have had huge amounts of research done on them over many years by a number of different researchers. The results have been quite conclusive from this research and it indicates that these products do not work at all despite what the manufacturer may say. Researchers have shown that these products do not have any appreciable effect on animals.

The third type of mechanical repellent system is predator eyes which are devices designed to mimic the eyes of predators at night to try and scare deer away. These products have had very little research done on them that I have been able to find as such I have had to rely upon the feedback from customers that have purchased products of this nature.

The feedback on most of the products that I have seen indicates that most customers are not happy with the performance of these products with some customers even posting videos of deer eating their plants right next to the predator eyes. This suggests that if the products do work they do not work for very long and therefore are not products we recommend that you purchase.

I hope you found this article useful and are able to successfully defend your garden against the deer in your area, if you have any additional comments or questions please leave them in the section below.

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Paul Smart