How to Discourage Deer from Devouring Your Plants


Got deer? Discourage them from munching on your plants and trees by making your yard seem unsafe. Hang wind chimes, install motion-activated sprinklers, and utilize garden items that make unexpected sounds. Plant trees and shrubs that deer don’t like. Put up fences or grow dense hedges.

Deer lunching on back yard plants is not a problem for urban Florida residents but they can be a big problem for homeowners who live in small towns and rural areas. In these places, hungry deer strip tasty plants such as English Ivy, peas, lettuce, strawberries, peaches, impatiens, and pansies.

Property owners looking to discourage deer can implement three strategies:

  1. Incorporate plants into the landscaping that deer don’t enjoy
  2. Install barriers to keep deer away, and
  3. Scare deer off

Deer-Resistant Plants

Almost no plant is truly deer-proof because if a deer is hungry enough, it will eat virtually anything growing. However, some plants are less appealing to deer than others.

Deer-resistant trees include palms such as the Sabal, coconut, queen, and royal; crape myrtles, bottlebrush trees, live oaks, pomegranates, magnolias, loquats, edible figs, orchid trees, and pineapple guavas.

Common Florida shrubs that deer don’t like include camellias, bird of paradise, Chinese holly, gardenias, juniper, croton, Ixora, oleander, plumbago, viburnum, lantana, Japanese boxwood, philodendron, myrtle-leaf holly, wax myrtle, and sweet/tea olive.

Include deer-resistant plants as much as you can in your landscaping. Reserve those plants that attract deer for areas close to your home—like around the foundation under the windows. Deer will be less likely to munch on plants when they can see, hear, or sense humans close by.

Barriers Around Your Property or Plants

Consider installing fencing around your property or grow a compact hedge. Deer can jump high, so make sure the fence is at least eight feet tall. Hedges of boxwood and other dense plant species will both deter deer from pushing through and keep them from looking into the yard, where, if they spot attractive plants, they’ll look for a way in.

Barriers around individual plants and trees can help deter deer as well. Try tree wraps to discourage deer from nibbling on foliage and rubbing their antlers on trunks. Netting over bushes, bulbs, and fruit trees will help keep deer away. The mesh lets light and water pass through but protects the plants underneath. Note: be diligent in covering young, tender plants, and install tree wraps in the fall when deer are marking their territories.

Scare Deer Away

If deer think a yard contains dangers, they will stay away. One way to trick them into thinking your property is not safe is to startle them with noise, motion, or spraying water.

Hang wind chimes that make noises without warning. Change up sounds by adding chimes made of other materials. Wood, metal, glass, and ceramic chimes all have different sounds. Keep the noises changing so that the deer don’t get used to them and become comfortable.

Garden art that moves with the wind or is activated by solar power can be useful to surprise deer and make them nervous about being in your yard.

Motion-activated sprinklers that release jets of harmless water onto intruding deer will also scare them away.

Finally, a pet dog that barks at a deer or chases it will leave the impression that your yard is not a friendly place to be.

Other deterrents may be worth looking into as well. Ask neighbors what they do to discourage deer, check with local nurseries, and search online for additional solutions.

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