How to Keep Deer From Eating Shrubs


Home gardeners that live in areas with a high deer population are constantly frustrated when deer forage and destroy their gardening efforts. Deer move down from higher elevations during periods of drought or when heavy snow covers their normal food supply. Deer are especially attracted to the tender new growth on landscape shrubs. There are several commercial products and gadgets that are said to repel deer, but before you spend your hard-earned money, try these inexpensive homemade remedies.

Things You'll Need

  • Garlic
  • Chives
  • Blood meal
  • Human hair clippings
  • Deodorant soap
  • Avoid planting shrubs that attract foraging deer. Deer especially like arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis), Fraser fir (Abies fraseri) and balsam fir (Abies balsamea). Deer find the tender, new growth of these shrubs to be especially tasty. Instead, plant deer resistant shrubs such as common juniper (Juniperus communis), Oregon grape (Mahonia repens), blue mist spiraea (Caryopteris x clandonensis) and Hawthorn (Crataegus sp.). Choose shrubs with thorny branches or prickly leaves. Deer will generally leave holly bushes alone.

  • Plant garlic and chives around the base of the shrubs. Deer are repelled by the strong odor. If you do not wish to plant garlic bulbs, just chop up a few fresh bulbs of garlic and sprinkle around the shrub.

  • Sprinkle blood meal around the shrubs. The smell helps keep deer from nibbling on the shrubs and the blood meal enriches the soil with nutrients.

  • Ask your barber or beauty shop to save hair clippings. The scent of human hair is repugnant to deer. Tie a couple of handfuls in a piece of nylon netting and hang from the branches of susceptible shrubs. Use green or camouflage colored netting to blend in with the shrub.

  • Wrap bars of strongly scented deodorant soap in netting and hang it in the shrub branches.

  • Sprinkle carnivore urine on and around shrubs. Available from hunting stores, coyote, bobcat or wolf urine sends a message to the deer that a predator is roaming the garden. Human urine is also effective.

Tips & Warnings

  • Experiment with different methods. A treatment that works in some areas may not be effective once the deer become used to the scent.

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