4 Ways to Deer-Proof Your Yard

A female deer and her baby eat some leaves.
  • .5-8
  • Intermediate
  • 20-200

Deer are often regarded and beautiful and docile creatures, but they can actually wreak havoc on your yard, especially in the spring and summer months when they forage for food more widely. Deer love to munch on plants, whether they are tasty garden fruits and vegetables or decorative shrubbery. Regardless of the type of plant, deer will jump right in, biting plants and even removing them from soft ground, all just to test whether or not they like it.

Best case scenario, the deer decides it's not a fan of whatever you've grown and destroys it needlessly. Worst case is that it likes what it samples and comes back for more over and over again.

Try these stress-free ways to keep deer out of your yard.

1. Install a Fence

The most obvious way to keep deer out of your yard is to install a fence. This option is the most drastic, since fences can block views and keep out other types of animals that you may like to watch from your windows or patio.

Fencing is also the most expensive option, as a deer-proof fence should be at least 10 feet tall.

Consider the size of the area you're protecting before committing to a fence installation. Depending on the overall area, it may not be cost effective to fence in your whole yard, whereas guarding a smaller specialized area like a simple garden may be worth it the effort.

2. Deer Deterrents

deer behind a fence

As already stated, not all of the plants in your yard will taste good to them but deer will sometimes sample them anyway. You can use this to your advantage and deliberately plant sacrificial or deterrent vegetation to drive them away.

This vegetation should be planted at the outermost edges of your yard or around the garden, where they can create a sort of deer barrier. Such plants include marigolds, daffodils, mint, rosemary, oregano, aloe, ferns and Black-eyed Susan.

3. Sprays

If you are unable to alter your yard or change the landscaping, try spraying plants with deer repellent or a homemade spicy pepper spray to keep them from coming back. A few bites of bad-tasting plants will keep them away.

Bottled deer repellent can be found online or at your local gardening store. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Alternatively a homemade cayenne spray can be cheaper and will cause little overall impact to your yard or garden other than keeping pests out. Mix 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper with one cup of water in a spray bottle. Shake it up, then spray it on the leaves of the plants that the deer have been munching on. Make sure to spray the entire plant with a light mist. The cayenne is so spicy that the deer will not try eating those plants again once they get a taste of it.

4. Feed the Deer

deer standing near flowers

If all else fails, many people have been able to keep deer out of their yard by planting specific plants for the deer to eat. While this may seem counterintuitive, it actually ensures that the deer eat those plants instead of the ones you wish they wouldn’t.

Place these target plants at the outer edges of the garden or yard. If the deer happen upon these first and eat to their fill, they won't have a reason to venture deeper into your garden or property to eat your more vulnerable plants, as they will be satisfied with what they have already eaten.

Plants that deer will almost certainly eat include roses, hibiscus, sunflower, cedar, and pine. They also particularly enjoy lush, green grasses, which can be maintained in a wooded area without much effort. Try dumping compostable waste at the edges of your property to keep these attractive plants lush and green for the deer.