How To Keep Deer Out Of The Vegetable Garden?

By Paul Smart •  Updated: 02/20/22 •  8 min read

How To Keep Deer Out Of The Vegetable Garden? Growing fresh produce at home is one of the best things that that you can do in the garden as it is great for the environment and also great for your hip pocket. However, if you live in an area where there is a large deer population you may find that the reality is that deer love home-grown vegetables just as much as you do. So how do you keep dear out of your vegetable garden?

The only 100% effective method of keeping them out of the garden is to exclude them from the area entirely by either erecting a fence or an individual structure to protect the various plants that are present. Outside of this method, there are a number of other commercially available deer repellent systems which can be used but they do vary significantly in effectiveness depending upon the nature of the product and how it is applied.

However, there are things that you can do with the design of your garden that will help to reduce the chances of the deer getting to it. The first thing that we recommend is that you place the vegetable garden in an area that is close to your house and ideally is not visible from the out of parts of your property. If the deer cannot see the vegetable patch they are less likely to go into it.

Additionally, being close by the house also will dissuade them from coming into the vegetable plan because of your daily day-to-day activities which will deter them to some degree.

The second thing that you can do with the structure of your garden which will help to keep the deer out is to plant things that they do not like to eat on the outer edges of the garden. Additionally, it is absolutely ideal if you can select plants that are relatively tall as well because that will help to block the visibility into the garden.

What Plants Do Deer Not Eat?

As a general rule deer do not like to eat plants that are fragrant, toxic, or prickly by nature, however, the reality is that many of these plants that claim to be deer resistant are just simply plants that are not their preferred food but they will eat them if there is a lack of other available plants to eat.

To get an idea of the plants that they do not like to eat it is a good idea to visit the New Jersey Agricultural Experimentation Station website as they have a large list of plants that are rated based upon how much deer like to eat them.

What Types Of Deer Repellent Systems Work Well?

If you hop on to somewhere like Amazon you’ll see that there is a huge volume of deer repellent systems and devices  available to purchase, however, as mentioned above the effectiveness of these devices does vary substantially so which ones do you purchase?

The deer repellent systems can generally be divided up into chemical or mechanical repellents and as a general rule chemical repellents are generally more effective than mechanical ones, however, even they vary depending upon the particular product selected.

Chemical Repellents

Chemical repellents are widely available on the market and they can be divided into 3 different types fear-inducing, pain-inducing, and general tastes or smells deterrents. 

Of these three types, the fear-inducing repellents are the most effective according to a range of studies that have been completed on these types of products. Fear-inducing repellents are generally based on things like coyote urine, blood, and putrified egg. It may seem a little odd to have putrified egg in a deer repellent however the egg producers sulfur compounds which smell similar to many common predators which is why it works.

However, despite the effectiveness of these particular products are their protection really only lasts approximately 10 to 12 weeks according to the academic studies that I have read even if the repellents continue to be applied to the area after that period. The reason why is because the deer can quickly become accustomed to the scent and then will progressively ignore it and after 10 to 12 weeks they will begin to resume their normal feeding habits.

As a result of this, we recommend that you purchase at least two different deer repellents which will allow you to alternate the use every 3 months or so to reduce the chances of the deer becoming accustomed to the scent.

The two products that we recommend that are widely available are deer out and plantskydd which are both fear-inducing repellents that are based on different ingredients. This means that they do smell significantly different from one another, to check out the latest price on these items click on the links to visit Amazon.

Mechanical Repellents

Mechanical repellents as a general rule are not as effective as chemical repellents and they only are effective for short periods of time. Like the chemical repellents, they can be classified into three different groups which are motion-activated sprinkler systems, ultrasonic devices, and predator eyes which are devices that mimic the appearance of a predator’s eyes at night to dissuade the deer from entering the garden.

There has been some academic research conducted on motion activated sprinklers which suggest that they are effective but only for a very short period of time, as such, we would recommend that if you want to purchase an item of this nature that you use it sparingly within your garden as a surprise tactic at critical times of the gardening year. This could include when crops are almost ready to harvest.

To do this we recommend that you regularly move the position of the sprinkler system around the garden with a focus on the main entry points that the deer use to come into the garden. It is also advisable to periodically turn the sprinkler systems off and then back on to an to ensure that they do not get too used to these systems.

If you are planning to purchase an item of this nature the product we would recommend is the orbit sprinkler system which has a 40-ft detection range and 120-degree view which allows one unit to cover a large area. To see the latest price click on the link from Amazon.

The second type of deer repellent system that is widely sold is the ultrasonic devices which many manufacturers claim are effective against a wide range of animals that include things like squirrels, deer, rodents, and domestic cats and dogs.  

However, there has been a wide range of academic research conducted on these devices which indicates that they are not very effective against any type of animal with some researchers questioning the mechanism of how these things even work and suggesting that they are absolutely no value at all. As a result of these findings, we would not recommend that you purchase a device of this nature as it simply does not work.

The third type of device which is commonly used is predator eyes which has not had very much academic research directed towards this type of device as such we’ve had to rely upon evidence from those people that have used these types of devices.

The general consensus of this sort of device is that it does not work well, however, this is based purely upon general opinion rather than scientifically tested data. Most reviews from people that have purchased these types of products indicate that are disappointed with their performance and generally would not recommend the purchase of this type of product to other people.

Some users have actually provided evidence of the lack of performance of these types of devices in the form of night vision video showing deer feeding upon their plants right next to a predator eyes device.

While we have no way of knowing how long these devices have been out in the yard when this video was taken the general indication is that if they are effective they are not effective for very long. So I would suggest that this type of device would be a last resort if you continue to have problems with growing crops in your garden.

I hope you found this article useful and are able to successfully grow produce in your garden without too much interference from the local deer population.  If you have any questions or comments please leave them in the section below.

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Paul Smart