how to repel deer british columbia

How to Repel Deer

Spotting a deer is always a Kodak moment, one where you catch your breath and pray that they won’t get spooked and dart away while you’re reaching for a camera—that is, unless you’re spotting them in your garden. In that case, you’re not reaching for the camera. You’re reaching for the broom to shoo the invader away while you anxiously await to see the damage done to your plants.

Why Deer Invade Our Gardens

As herbivores by nature, it only makes sense that our gardens — teeming with fresh foliage and beautiful blooms — would look like a free-for-all smorgasbord for deer. They’re fully stocked with nutritional plants and water, which isn’t always easy to find all poked away together in a convenient location. This is especially true just after winter when food has been in scarce supply and their bellies are rumbling for a fresh, spring feeding. 

Some usual suspects for drawing them in include:

  • Tulips, lilies, and other bulbs
  • Vegetables and fruit trees
  • Rhododendrons and azaleas
  • Roses
  • Hostas
  • Pansies
  • Lilacs
  • Dogwood

If any of these plants can be found in your garden, you may find yourself open to some deer damage without the right defences.

deer attracting plants

Ways to Repel Deer from Your Garden

As large as they are, it can seem like a headache to try and keep deer out of your garden. All you need, though, are the right tools!

Hedges and fences are logical ways to keep deer out of your garden by literally creating a barrier between them. Plus, they have the added benefits of both curb appeal and extra privacy for transforming your space into an outdoor oasis. Remember, if nature was hosting the Olympics, the deer would be shoo-ins for the high jump. So, any barrier should be at least 8 feet tall to successfully keep them at bay. Alternatively, you could consider planting a deer-resistant hedge with a plant they don’t particularly care for, like Portuguese Laurel. 

Deer repellants, like the ones we carry from PlantSkydd and Bobbex, use concentrated smells and flavours, like meat meals and fish oils, to trick the deer into leaving their favourite snacks alone. The subtle hints of prey warn them that a predator might be around, making them less likely to steal a taste because a treat is not worth risking their lives. We recommend applying once at the time of planting, and then once again six weeks later. If you’re seeing a lot of regrowth in your garden, you may want to reapply again, but you won’t have to worry about reapplying after heavy rainfall like with many other repellent products. PlantSkydd and Bobbex have fantastic staying power, and their lingering scent will remain undetectable to people, while repelling the deer for two months. That being said, you may notice PlantSkydd has a bit of a funky scent for the first couple of days after application, but don’t worry— it fades quickly, so only the deer will be able to smell it. 

Deer-Resistant Plants

Much in the same way that we can be picky eaters, so can deer. So, given that they have a list of particular favourites to be found in our gardens, they also have a few plants they’re not so fond of. Here are some they tend to avoid:

  • Lavender
  • Coneflowers
  • Ferns
  • Black-Eyed Susans
  • Monarda
  • Daffodils
  • Sage
  • Bleeding Hearts
  • Irises
  • Coreopsis
  • Allium
  • Mint
  • Petunias
  • Marigolds
  • Cleomes
  • Rosemary

deer-repellent plants

With strong smells or sometimes even toxic traits, deer tend to keep these plants at arm’s length. We recommend mixing in a few of them with the more favourable ones to trick the deer into leaving them alone. However, it’s important to note that while they’re usually avoided by deer, we’ve found that they haven’t been too picky lately and will sometimes even feast away on these plants if they’re desperate for a snack. But, partnered with a repellant, they should still work quite effectively.

Don’t let their penchant for destruction cloud the magic of spotting them in the wild! With these tips and tricks, you can keep the deer out of your garden and in the wild where they belong— far, far away from your beautifully blooming beds.

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