How to Keep Deer Away this Winter

Foraging deer

Although spotting a beautiful white-tailed deer in your backyard can feel exciting at first, any seasoned gardener knows what that sight really means… havoc for your garden and landscaping.

Deer (and foraging rabbits) have some favorite plants, but the truth is that once it’s late winter and early summer, food sources are scarce, and nothing is off-limits. Deer will strip tree branches of their leaves, nibble on undergrowth, and charge headlong into your flowerbed to chomp up the tulip bulbs.

How can you discourage deer from wrecking your yard this winter? Here are some time-tested ideas:

Discourage Them with Smells

  • Plant smart. Deer have sensitive noses so that they can sniff out food. But masking the smell tasty plants with things they don’t like at all helps. And if the plants aren’t sprouting in the garden right now, you can grow them indoors and then border your garden with the potted plant. Deer steer clear of garlic, onions, and lavender, and all of these have strong smells that will mask other tasty plants.
  • You can also get sprays that stink and you can just spray around perimeters. However, you have to remember to re-spray these after each rainfall.
  • Try this old method that’s the go-to of many a wise grandmother gardener: string up a bar of soap. The soap is an unfamiliar smell and it often masks the scent of your plants. And while it’s off-putting to deer and rabbits, it still smells fresh and lovely to you.

Make Them Wary

Deer are wary grazers. That’s why they have those huge ears and eyes, to keep an eye out for anything that might creep up on them during their feast. You can use that to your advantage. Introducing new garden hardscaping items will make critters wary. For example, a garden gnome, a hanging cd that waves and flashes, chimes that send out sounds seemingly at random, all make grazers think twice before entering your yard. Just remember that the longer that something is in your yard, the more opportunity grazers have to get used to it. Once they realize it’s harmless, they’ll unabashedly trample your garden. So, it can be wise to change out that garden chair for a shiny orb on a pedestal every now and then.

Fence Off the Area

We know! It’s just not as pretty. And fencing can be a lot of work. But in the end, the only way to really ensure that your plants are safe from foraging deer is to guard them with a perimeter. So, if the problem is getting bad, invest in a good-looking fence that will keep deer away.

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