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Tips For Keeping Deer And Pests Out Of Your Garden

Chef Daniel Orr, also an avid gardener offers some tips for keeping deer, pests and other vermin out of your garden.

deer munching on a branch

Photo: Adam P Schweigert/WFIU

Protecting your garden from foragers like deer can be annoying, but it’s also part of life.

Deer Eating Leaves from A Tree

Photo: Adam P Schweigert/WFIU

Many of us have been there: you work so hard planning and planting your garden, growing vegetables and herbs and then deer or other pests wander through and decimate all of your hard labor in one evening.

This week Chef Daniel Orr, also an avid gardener, offers some tips for keeping deer, pests and other vermin out of your garden.

Many Different Pests To Contend With

There are many different pests you have to contend with when you have a garden: moles, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, and, of course, deer, who are notorious for sneaking into your garden and plowing down a whole row of lettuce in a night.

Dealing with these critters is annoying, but it’s also part of life.

There are a lot of different things you can try, but none of them will work perfectly every time, unless you’re willing to put a 7 foot fence up around your garden, because many of the common garden pests (and especially deer) can jump in and out of anything lower than that.

Some Things To Try

If a tall fence isn’t an option, here are some other things to try. Remember to try different things because even if one of these tactics works for a while, eventually the garden pests will learn that the threat to them is not real and will come back for more:

  • Go to a local barber and get some of their swept up human hair. Tie it into bundles or put it in some old pantyhose and place these bundles around your yard so the critters smell humans. Extra gross bonus: It’s best if the people haven’t washed their hair before hand, the more human the hair smells, the better.
  • Moving from gross to grosser: human urine also acts as an effective deterrent to many garden pests. Either take a late night walk out to your garden to relieve yourself, or some people even collect urine in jars and then spread it around their garden’s perimeter.
  • There are also some plants you can use to deter certain pests. The essential oils in the roots of these plants scare aware moles and other critters. Try planting strong smelling herbs: rosemary, dill, or mint to deter deer, they don’t like the strong smells, but from time to time they will still step right over your rows of herbs, so this may or may not work every time.
  • Put a motion sensor on your water hose or lawn sprinklers so that a deer entering your yard triggers the sprinklers. This will often be enough to scare them away.
  • Some other things to try: sprinkle blood meal around your garden (blood meal is a dried, powdered blood used as a high-nitrogen fertilizer), hang noisemakers, or put an old sweaty shirt out in the garden (again, the strategy is to make it so that the pests smell human odor and are scared off).

As you can see, there are lots of different ways to keep pests out of your garden, but none are likely to work every time. The key is to try different things, hopefully find something that works, and even when the deer do get into the garden, try to still have fun and enjoy what they’ve left behind for you.

Have Any Tips To Share?

Have any other tips to share? Let us know what your favorites are below in the comments.

Chef Daniel Orr

Chef Daniel Orr is the owner of FARMbloomington and the author of several cookbooks. He draws from a lifelong curiosity about individual ingredients combined with extensive training in the art of finding food’s true essence and flavor. The result is simple, yet sophisticated; the best of American food tempered by classic European training.

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  • http://victoriamixon.com Victoria Mixon

    We use netting over individual beds to keep out the deer. It doesn’t have to go down the sides, just over the top, because they’re tall animals. And it doesn’t have to be tough, just there, because they don’t like it at all when it touches their noses.

    Chipmunks are another matter. Those little critters can get under some pretty well-staked netting–we watched one the other day squirm between the netting and the post it was attached to!

    Victoria

  • Lorrie Hartle

    another tip to repel deer. If you have indoor cats try emptying the litter box about 10ft from the garden.

  • http://wfiu jackie

    Thanks for your help, I have a rabbit problem. I thought about putting out fake snakes in the garden, as you said though, the pests will figure out the threat is not real. I may try the cat litter possibly, although it’s in my front yard, and the department of natural resources frowns on this as being a health hazard.
    It’s looking like I may have to try the urine trick, with some human hair, and I think a scarecrow with a new outfit each week is in order.
    I have fencing although I can’t go down 18 inches because of tree roots, and it’s not all that easy to not get your fencing all out of shape, as I found out just trying to put up a 4ft. x 4ft. fence around my japenese maple tree.

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