Deer can cause extensive damage to your garden and landscape plants. A hungry deer will feed on almost any plant, and can sometimes pull up plants from the ground and rub antlers on tree trunks. Since you can’t remove deer from your area, the next best thing is to use strategies to deter them from feeding on your foliage.
A highly-effective deer repellent that is made with essential oils which naturally repels small animals and is safe to use around edible vegetables and fruits.
How Deer Repellent Works
Repellents are designed to change behavior patterns by providing negative reinforcement. Depending on the active ingredient, the repellent will either be an unpleasant taste or smell to the deer, will mildly irritate their nasal passages or mouths, or will mimic a predator using predator urine. These three things will ideally cause the deer to leave the area and forage or feed elsewhere.
There are many deer repellent recipes or methods of using household items to make homemade deer repellent, like human hair or bars of soap hung on trees, but are generally unsuccessful. Mothballs are commonly touted as an animal pest repellent, but please note that using mothballs or any pest control product in a way it is not designed or directed for is illegal.
How To Use Deer Repellents
Using a deer repellent can be very successful when used correctly. Here are things to keep in mind when using deer repellents:
With a spray application, spray leaves, branches, and stems from all angles until they appear wet.
Granules are often used to create barriers, but can also be used directly on plants.
It is best to apply a repellent on a dry day.
To keep the repellent working, new growth must be treated continually.
The most important thing when using a repellent is to read the label instructions, but generally, you will want to reapply this product often, usually once a week during the growing period of your plants.
These products must be reapplied after harsh weather and rains.
Being consistent with application is the key to success with repellents. Damage can occur at any time if a deer senses the opportunity.
Rotating through different types of repellents with different active ingredients can also increase efficacy by keeping the deer from getting used to a certain ingredient.
You can use deer repellents for gardens, but keep in mind that sometimes they should not be used on vegetables or anything meant to be consumed. Read label carefully.
Don’t wait until you notice deer damage to use repellents. If deer are known to be in your area, use repellents regularly. It is much easier to prevent the deer damage than stop it in progress.
Types of Deer Repellent
Deer repellent can be split into two categories: contact and area. Contact repellents require the target animal to come in contact with surfaces treated with the repellent product to produce the unpleasant sensation/taste in the animal. Area repellents are used to create a barrier around your area to deter deer from even venturing into your yard or garden. Here is a brief list of types of repellents you may come across while looking at our large deer repellent selection:
Egg based repellents, like Deer Off and Liquid Fence, are very popular and very effective when used correctly and consistently. They are made of putrid (rotten) egg solids that smell and taste like rotten eggs. The scent will dissipate for humans, but deer will still be able to detect the strong odor. This product shouldn’t be applied to vegetables or crops that will be eaten.
Capsaicin or “hot sauce” based repellents are also very popular, and use the compound that make hot peppers spicy, capsaicin, as the active ingredient. The repellent will cause the deer’s nose or mouth to become irritated.
Soap based repellents are widely available and made of fatty acids and can smell like ammonia. They smell and taste unpleasant to deer.
Predator odor repellents consist of urine of common deer predators like coyote, mountain lions, bobcats, and wolves, but these have shown only to be effective for a short time.
Other active ingredients are often present in a repellent, like garlic oil or solids, along with essential oils like cinnamon, thyme, peppermint, etc.
Other Deer Deterrent Techniques
Controlling deer damage is most successful when you combine several deer control methods instead of relying on just one method. Repellents can work really well, but can work even better when combined with other things, like planting non-preferred plants, using netting or mesh, etc. There are other ways to discourage deer from damaging foliage and plants on your property that don’t necessarily use a deer repellent product, but can increase the effectiveness of your repellent efforts.
While deer will eat any plant if they are desperate for food, each deer has certain plant preferences. Try to plant smart and choose deer resistant plants, or plants deer generally don’t feed on, such as holly or flowering tobacco (among many others) versus plants deer tend to love, like hostas and geraniums.
Use landscaping cloth or fencing material to create barriers around delicate or vulnerable trees to prevent deer from scraping or rubbing the bark
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