How To Keep Deer Away From Plants

Nick Durante
by Nick Durante

Nothing is as annoying as going to water your plants and finding out that deer have been nibbling on them. This can hinder plant growth and will continue to happen until you address the problem. Understandably, many homeowners struggle with how to keep deer away from plants.

The best way to keep deer away from plants is to scatter soap, garlic oil, and hot sauce in your garden. You can also use a deer-repellent spray such as Liquid Fence, which can keep deer away from plants for up to 30 days. Install motion-activated lights to scare deer away or build a fence around your garden to keep them out.

Even placing mothballs in your garden can deter deer. Plants like marigolds and chives can naturally keep deer away from your backyard. Follow along as we explore how to keep deer away from plants without spending a fortune.

How To Keep Deer From Eating Plants

Whether it be mothballs or hot sauce, there are several great ways to keep deer away from plants. Some homeowners want to go the natural route with remedies like hot sauce and marigolds. However, that doesn’t do the trick for everyone and you may need a heavy-duty solution. Check out these cheap and easy ways to keep deer away from plants.

Bar Soap

Believe it or not, you can keep deer away from plants if you crumple some bar soap and scatter it around them. The deer will be put off by the scent of the soap and will leave your plants alone. Less is more with this method, as deer have an extraordinary sense of smell.

You don’t need to use a whole bar of soap, and even the smallest amount should keep the deer away. This can take some experimentation, so you may have to try different amounts of soap. Try using a potato peeler to remove evenly sized strips of the soap that you can crumble up and scatter around the plants.

Deer Repellent Spray

Deer repellent sprays such as Liquid Fence can keep several critters away from your plants, such as deer and rabbits. These sprays are quite effective and you typically only need to apply them once per month. However, you will need to spray more deer repellent if it continually rains, as the effects will wear off quickly.

Most deer repellent sprays contain a mixture of several ingredients that deter animals, such as citronella and garlic oil. Don’t spray the repellent directly onto the plants. All you need to do is spray around the plants in the soil bed and deer won’t approach them.

Hot Sauce

While hot sauce is delicious, it doesn’t smell too appetizing to deer. Place several drops of hot sauce around your plants to keep deer away. Ideally, you should choose basic hot sauces that don’t feature additional flavors like parmesan.

Something as simple as Crystal or Tobasco sauce will do the trick. The spicier the better, as aromatic hot sauces will be more off-putting to deer.

Garlic Oil

We all know that garlic is quite aromatic, and that’s why deer hate it. Garlic oil is among the best natural deer repellents. Simply douse the soil bed that your plants are in with garlic oil to keep deer away.

You can also drop some garlic oil into the soil of potted plants without damaging them. The deer may still approach the plants, but they won’t likely bite into them. Garlic oil can also keep insects such as mosquitoes away.

Deer have a sense of smell that is 10,000 times stronger than ours. Because of that, you don’t need to use too much garlic oil to keep them away from your plants. As a bonus, garlic oil can also keep snakes out of your yard, which can make it less intimidating to do yard work.

Motion-Activated Lights

Motion-activated lights are enough to keep deer away from plants in many cases. The best thing about this method is that you don’t have to taint your garden with chemicals and enzymes that take a long time to wash away. Deer will quickly scurry away once a motion-activated light turns on.

The lights don’t necessarily need to be right by the plants if that’s not an option. In most cases, you can keep deer away from your plants even if you place a motion-activated light over your back door. However, battery-powered lights near your plants can work wonders as well and they won’t increase your energy bill.

Fishing Line

In extreme cases, you may need to create a physical barrier to keep deer away from your plants. Something as simple as a fishing line can keep deer away without being too noticeable during the day. Fishing line is thin enough that it won’t disfigure your garden and make it look tacky.

Carefully section off your garden with at least one layer of fishing line. You can fortify the barrier and double up on the fishing line if deer still manage to get into your garden. Use this method in conjunction with other deer repellent or garlic oil for the best results.


Much like bars of soap, mothballs smell terrible to deer. Strategically scatter mothballs throughout your yard around the plants that deer continually eat. Mothballs contain naphthalene, which can keep rabbits, deer, and insects away.

However, this isn’t a great long-term option because mothballs can be bad for soil over time. This is a good short-term fix to minimize plant damage while you work on other solutions.

Carefully Choose Plants

If you choose wisely, even your plants can even keep deer away. Flowers such as daffodils and marigolds, and herbs such as chives and oregano can naturally repel deer. Carefully place these in your garden near the plants that deer tend to eat the most.

Never plant chicory and orchard grass or crops such as kale if you have a problem with deer. These plants naturally attract deer and could explain why you keep finding them in your garden.

Install A Fence

Installing a fence can deter deer better than nearly any method. While deer are great at jumping, they are unlikely to jump a fence around your plants, as there is no easy escape route. You don’t need to build a large, elaborate fence for this to work.

Simply build a small fence even if it’s made of netting or chicken wire to keep deer away. A small garden fence costs as little as $70. Otherwise, you can install a fence around your backyard, which costs between $2,000 and $7,000 depending on the materials and size of your property.

Summing It Up

Garlic oil, hot sauce, bar soap, and deer-repellent spray can keep deer away from plants. Install motion-activated lights in your backyard, as they will scare deer away from your garden. Avoid plants like chicory, since it can attract deer to your garden.

Marigolds and oregano can naturally keep deer out of your yard. Install a fence or wrap a fishing line around your garden to create a physical barrier for deer. Deer-repellent spray is the best option if you want a long-term solution that you only need to apply once per month.

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Nick Durante
Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

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