How to Keep Deer and Other Animals Out of Your Yard Without Chemicals


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If you’ve put any amount of work into planting outdoors, the last thing you want is for pests to take up residence and use your yard like their own personal pantry. Unless you take an active approach to warding them off, animals like deer, rabbits, and raccoons can quickly decimate your flowers, fruits, and vegetables.
You probably don’t want to spray your space with a bunch of chemicals that can harm you, your plants, or even pests—so try one (or several) of these safer strategies instead.
Build a physical barrier
A fence may be the most effective approach to keeping critters away from your plants, as they can’t eat them if they can’t reach them. Deer fencing is tall—typically 7 feet—with a narrow weave and can be made of wire or heavy plastic, while chicken wire can keep rabbits away. Make sure your wire fence is at least 4 feet tall, buried 6 inches deep to deter burrowing, and bent away from the garden to prevent jumping and climbing. You can also use domes or chicken wire cages over the tops of your beds. These aren’t the most attractive solutions, but they work.
Growing in greenhouses or fenced-in raised beds with high walls can also limit critter damage. Or, if you want a more natural physical barrier, put a spiky bush or hedge native to your area around the plants you want to protect.
Finally, tall grasses and shrubs around the edges of your yard or garden can create a natural barrier to entry while also providing a low-stakes snack option for pests. If they fill up on these plants, they may do less damage to the ones you care more about.
Use smells and tastes they detest
If you’re going to plant things critters like to eat, you should also plant some they don’t—highly fragrant plants can work well. Rabbits dislike flowers like lilac, zinnias, daffodils, lavender, and snapdragons as well as onions and garlic. Sage and other herbs can also keep critters away. For deer, try placing containers of mint around the edges of your garden, as they are repelled by the smell. Anything textured or spiky can also act as a natural deterrent.
Aside from plants, there are other smells and natural substances that can repel critters. Farmer’s Almanac has a long list of suggestions for rabbits (and another for deer) but some of the most common are talcum powder, Irish Spring soap, and cayenne pepper, which can be mixed with water and sprayed around your plants or garden beds. Peppermint oil applied to hard surfaces or mint tea bags placed near plants may repel deer. Make sure you reapply after it rains.
Scare them away (gently)
Startling critters when they enter your yard or approach your garden may deter them from getting close to your plants. Motion-activated lights and sprinklers that can easily be moved to different locations are a good option, such as solar-powered lights that stake into the ground. If you have a rabbit problem, try small mirrors or jars filled with water in and around your garden may scare them off. Ultrasonic devices can also deter deer without hurting them.
Keep your yard tidy
A neat yard offers fewer options for critters to take up residence. Consider keeping compost in a closed bin, and clean up piles of brush and leaves. Fill in holes that could be rabbit dens, and block entry to the space under your deck or porch.
Of course, none of these methods are foolproof, and some may work only temporarily or in combination with one another. It’s best to be realistic about the problem and effectiveness of solutions.
Finally, keep in mind that some creatures can actually be beneficial for your yard, as they both enhance the diversity of your outdoor ecosystem and keep harmful pests at bay. For example, birds can be effective pollinators and provide pest control services by eating mosquitos, aphids, and even rodents. Toads, frogs, lizards, and worms can also help your garden grow.


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