For year-round deer protection
Deer are lovely animals, but they can wreak havoc in your yard or garden. And unfortunately, they're difficult to get rid of once they decide they like your yard and foliage. They'll eat almost any plant, and can be especially damaging in the spring when they eat new shoots and growth. They can also damage trees by rubbing their antlers against them. For these reasons, you may want to invest in some deer repellent, and there are many different products and tactics you can try.
Don't confuse deer repellent with deer fly repellent. Deer fly repellent has little to do with deer, but it can make your outdoor time more enjoyable. (Repellents that contain citronella or naphthalene are good for keeping deer flies and mosquitoes away.)
A Few Different Methods
First, if you haven't seen deer or deer tracks, investigate a little. If foliage is neatly clipped, rabbits are your problem. If there are teeth marks in the bark, then you've got rodents. Once you've determined that deer are the problem, start by trying a homemade deer repellent, such as setting up strobe lights or tying up a dog in the general area. This might work for a while, but once the deer determine there's no real danger, they'll be back. And they may even simply take to chomping about in a different part of your yard or garden.
You can choose either contact deer repellent, area repellent or both. Contact repellent is typically a spray that coats the foliage making it taste bad. Area repellent involves granules or spray that covers an area, giving off a scent deer find unpleasant. One good way to keep deer from chewing up your plants is to plant the varieties they like best in a fenced-in area. Fencing is the best way to keep deer damage down anywhere. But if you don't want to fence your whole area, put plants that are more susceptible to deer damage in separate fenced areas.
What Do Deer Like to Eat?
The plants most likely to attract deer are geraniums, sunflowers, strawberry, tulips and phlox. They might also be attracted by silver lupines, wallflowers, irises or coneflowers. Apples, grapes, currants, roses and juniper are best in fenced areas, since deer will typically launch into those trees and shrubs, while hawthorns, junipers and Douglas firs are less likely to suffer deer damage. But in the end, they'll eat almost anything; no plant is absolutely deer-proof, even plants they typically don't eat like daffodils, grape hyacinth, lilies and lavender.
A good deer repellent for small trees is netting – you can place it over the tree to make it difficult for the deer to eat or rub its horns against the trunk. Another homemade deer repellent that some use is a small, fine-meshed bag containing about two handfuls of hair with some bar soap. Hang new bags from branches of trees monthly. If you've got the soap, and the human hair, it might be worth a try, but netting and fencing are still your best bests for natural deer repellent without the use of chemicals.