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Gardening Q&A

How do I keep the deer out of my garden?

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Guadalupe County Master Gardeners is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or

January 1, 2015 | 3,617 views | 6 comments

Deer are beautiful to watch, but they can do a great deal of damage to a garden. In fact, a deer eats approximately 6 to 10 pounds of forage per day. They are particularly attracted to smooth, flavorful, moisture-rich plants; such as, lettuce, beans, pansies, roses, daylilies, hibiscus, and fruit.

Since lists seem to be quite in vogue these days, I’ll provide 10 tips for protecting your plants from deer damage.

1. Plant deer resistant plants; such as, Texas mountain laurel, Texas persimmon, agarita, autumn sage, Texas sage, lantana, cactus, gulf mulhy, black-eyed Susan, blackfoot daisy, esperanza, and mealy cup/blue sage. You can find a more complete list by searching the internet.

2. Keep the plants that deer love most close to your house. Although you cannot maintain 100% vigilance, your general activity around the house may discourage the deer. (maybe)

3. Make your garden less appetizing to deer. Add strongly scented herbs; such as, garlic, chives, and mint to your garden in the hopes of masking the aroma of the more appealing plants. Include plants with fuzzy or thorny textures.

4. Fence your garden. You will need a fence about 8 feet high that does not have gaps greater than 6 inches.

5. Use repellents obtained from your local nursery. Rotate brands because the deer will become accustomed to one brand, making it ineffective. Reapply after rainfall.

6. Use home remedies. Some hang fabric softener strips or bars of soap from trees. Some use garlic, rotten egg mixtures, or bags of hair and blood meal.

7. Scare them away. Use yard art with movable parts, wind chimes, or motion lights. Try noise, such as a radio tuned to the static between stations. Search the internet for a product that has a motion sensor connected to a water sprinkler. When the deer approaches, the sprinkler sprays water for about 10 seconds. Get a dog.

8. String nylon fishing line around the beds about 2 to 3 feet above the ground. This clear and tightly strung barrier creates confusion, causing the deer to flee.

9. Cage young trees until they are too tall for deer to reach the leaves or fruit.

10. Avoid anything toxic. We want to prevent the wildlife from destroying our gardens, but at the same time, we don’t want to harm them. Likewise, we don’t want pets or family to be victim to poisonous substances.

Since disclaimers are also in vogue these days, I provide these disclaimers.

1. Not all deer have the same taste.
2. Tactics should be rotated because deer learn to ignore them.
3. Although some plants are deer resistant, many are still attractive when young and tender.
4. Hungry deer will eat almost anything.
5. If all tactics fail, take up photography instead of gardening.

Penny Wallace is a Texas Master Gardener with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. If you have a question to be answered, call the Master Gardeners at 830-379-1972 or leave a message to be answered. The website is The Master Gardener research library is open Mondays from 8:30 to noon, at 210 East Live Oak Street in Seguin.
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Your Opinions and Comments

Kicaster Creek  
January 4, 2015 9:28am
Grow a bigger garden and share with the wildlife. I have made some compromises in life but I will never forgo the pleasure of eating a warm fresh home grown tomato with a bit of salt. For those who have been reduced to consuming... More ›

January 4, 2015 6:54am
I tried to garden when I retired but in four years only had one good harvest - Deer (or maybe something else) got the rest - I tired some of the things mentioned but finally gave up. Still love watching the deer on my little... More ›

Fred Ohnesorge  
Floresville, TX  
January 3, 2015 9:27am
ACME GUNS & GEAR also sells rubber slugs for 410's,20 ga and 12 ga shotguns. lotsa noise, puts a little hurt on em but non lethal. some ranchers use them to get Bessy out of the oat field as well. !!

Beji Amhoudi  
La Vernia  
January 3, 2015 8:17am
+1 on the Freezer

4th Generation Texan  
Sutherland Spriungs  
January 2, 2015 1:04pm
Get a large deep freezer!

Ned Ryerson  
Canisteo, NY  
January 2, 2015 6:45am
Excellent article and ideas to keep deer at bay. We use a product that falls directly in line with #5 and #10 above. It uses a deer's keen sense of smell and instincts to your advantage. Deer Repellent Packs are... More ›

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