Keeping deer out of your vegetable garden can be a real problem.  You don’t want to spend all that time and effort growing vegetables to have them eaten by the local deer population. The solution is to find a deer repellant that works.  Deer have very keen senses which work to their advantage surviving in the wilderness.  Their sense of smell is phenomenal.  Hunters are aware of this and use all kinds of techniques to avoid being detected.  A deer can’t see stationary objects adequately to determine what they are, as humans do, but their ability to see an object in motion is superb.  In addition, their hearing and ability to distinguish sounds is quite good.  Most deer repellants take advantage of these superior senses.

Techniques that take advantage of deer’s Phenomenal Sense of Smell

1.  Rotten Food Odors - there are many deer repellant products that are formulated to mimic rotten food.  Deer will not eat food that smells like it is rotten.  This technique can work well until it rains when it must be reapplied.  Also, you have to wash the produce well before eating it. 

2.  Scent of Humans & Other Predators - Deer uses their sense of smell to avoid predators.  As a result, people often spread human hair or hair from other predators on the ground in and around their garden.  Sometimes urine is used.  This may work, if the local deer population is very wild.  However, in some places the deer have little fear of humans or other predators.

3.  Unfamiliar Odors - In the wild, deer notice any unfamiliar odors.  They can represent danger.  As a result, sometimes strong smelling products, e.g. soap, are placed in the garden as repellants.  Again, the effectiveness of this technique depends upon how wild the deer are that are entering your garden.  Even if they are leery of strange odors, over time they will get accustomed to them and it will no longer work.

Techniques that take advantage of deer’s Superb Vision

1.  Moving objects - Objects that move with the wind or that move as a result of a motion sensor can be used.  They may work for a short time but deer soon realize that they do not represent danger.

2.  Light - A light that comes on as a result of sensing motion is sometimes used.  This seems to be somewhat more effective than the moving object technique.  However, like the moving object, the deer soon grow accustomed to it and it is no longer effective.

3.  Sprinkler - There are motion activated sprinklers that are sold to repel animals.  Even though they don’t grow accustomed to them as easily as other techniques, the area of coverage is limited.

Techniques that take advantage of deer’s Superior Hearing

1.  Wind Activated Noise - a simple low cost method is to hang objects in the garden that will make noise when the wind blows.   This technique may work for a short time but it is not an effective long term solution to your deer problem.

2.  Motion Activated Noise - devices can be purchased that will make noise when motion is detected.  This is usually effective for several weeks but eventually the deer learn that the noise isn’t a sign of danger.

Of course there is the technique of creating a barrier that blocks a deer’s entrance into the garden.  Some people have been successful by stretching a string around the garden and tying aluminum pie pans to it.  This works best in a community gardens where there are other garden plots nearby with easier access.  Deer will take the path of less resistance but only within limits.  If they really want to eat your plants, a string will not be an adequate barrier.  A tall deer fence is the best solution.  A deer can jump most fences, so the fence needs to be at least 7 foot tall.  If you are fortunate enough to own your own land, a permanent wire fence is a good option.  However, if you rent your garden space or don’t want the expense and work of installing a permanent fence, a heavy duty plastic mesh fence may be your best solution.