Tips to Eliminate the “Oh, Deer!”

A reader and friend who lives at the other end of my state (Mississippi) emailed me before Easter.  She asked me to write a post about what to plant that the deer won’t eat.  They have eaten everything in her yard down to a nub.  Oh, deer  is right!

Why didn’t I think of writing on this topic before?  Why didn’t it occur to me that many of you could have this problem?  Of course  you may struggle with deer eating your plantings.  Of course  you’re upset…after all that work and care you put into those now-eaten plants!

I promise, it’s not that I didn’t care.  I just forgot  about that problem because it’s not a pain point for me anymore.

Why?  Because we don’t have a problem with deer munching away on our plants.  We even see deer tracks right up near the house during this time of year when it’s rainy and our dormant grass hasn’t filled in yet.  So, why don’t the deer eat our plants?

When we moved to The Land of Making Do, we had only a few trees in the yard.  No bushes.  No flowers.  A blank slate.  As I shared in this post.  Horrors – I know!

House Before Landscaping

I ordered several books to guide me, one of which is the Southern Living Garden Book, revised edition (2004).  In my cabinet filled with hard-back garden books and my collection of gardening magazines, this book is my all-time favorite.

It’s my gardening GO-TO.

The Southern Living Garden Book

It’s a real deal now on Amazon*.  I paid much more for it…and would again.  It’s been worth it.


With this book as my guide, I planted bushes, trees, and flowers that the deer wouldn’t be interested in eating.  It worked.

I created a PDF for you from The Southern Living Garden Book’s list of the plantings deer don’t like.  Click the image below to access the list.  I hope it helps you make choices for plantings that will survive the “Oh, Deer!”, give you peace (like me!), and make you happy.  🙂

Got a deer problem?  See how i eliminated mine!

Also, This Old House  has this helpful article.

I made yet another PDF for you from my personal DIY Gardening Notebook, where all my notes are neatly organized and easy to locate.  It’s a listing of Deer Resistant Plants and Trees.

I’ve read that deer are put off by the strong scent of most herbs and also coneflower, goldenrod, black-eyed Susan, and all sorts of alliums.  They don’t eat poisonous perennials like daffodils, foxglove, monkshood, and Lenten roses.  (How do they know?  Ha!)

Deer avoid prickly plants like juniper, barberry, holly, and fuzzy ones, such as lamb’s ear, hollyhock, and borage.  Although, I’ve read that they like to eat rose blooms.  Go figure!

If you’re in a situation where you need to repel deer, these are a few of the suggestions I’ve seen.

Hang bars of Lifeboy™ soap from shrubbery branches,
although I’ve seen them eat azalea bushes regardless of the soap hanging there.
(Run a threaded needle through the bar, wrapper on, and tie the thread ends around the branch.)

Hang old CD’s and/or DVD’s from branches, or bags of dog or human hair
(your hair stylist will give you all you need!)

Create a barrier with extremely tall fencing – or double fencing spaced five feet apart.

Spray plantings with coyote urine (yuk!), hot pepper sauce, or an egg mixed with a gallon of water.

Reader Teresa shared her tips in a comment on my What’s Blooming Wednesday #38 post.

I use a deer sprayer; it works great and finally hope to have hydrangea this year. I recently read that white plastic bags strung up will work as they move in the breeze and look like deer tails when sensing danger.  Whatever the reason they work, and don’t need to be left up all season.
Deer follow scent trails so once they’re “off the scent”, it’s safe. I had a dam foal in my lower yard a couple of years ago, but try now to keep them out. With development of nearby woods, they have nowhere to go.

Thanks, Teresa!

Do you have another deer repellent that works well?  Pretty please, will you share it with us in the comments below?


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  1. Jennifer Lee says

    Deer don’t see fine detail very well. I read that you can string fishing line at deer chest height, and when they run into it, they freak out, because they can’t see anything there, and they leave! At least, it’s a solution that’s not smelly or really ugly, or expensive!

    • says

      Thank you, Jennifer. I haven’t heard that one before, but it makes complete sense. Just don’t go wandering around in your yard after dark. I’d probably forget it’s there and be scared enough to run away myself! Ha!

  2. says

    Yikes, I don’t think I want bags of hair or CDs hanging about! We do have the occasional deer in the woods behind our house, but it’s the pesky squirrels that make havoc in my garden, they love to dig up my potted plants! Last year we made a very complex fence around the garden which kept everything out except for 1 giant snake that got stuck, thrashed around and ruined everything! This year I’m going to just go to the farmer’s market 🙂
    Happy weekend Kim!
    Jenna recently posted…Party Panache, Jubilee CrunchMy Profile

    • says

      I’m with you! With only the two of us, a full garden isn’t worth it. Although, I’m trying something new with 2 tomato plants this year. Tomatoes never work here, though. Even my huge-garden-every-year neighbors say so. After living here 30+ years, they don’t even try. But…I’m a little hard-headed, so I’ll try again. I hope you have a wonderful Sunday!

  3. Jeff Ryan says

    Excellent ideas on keeping deer away from landscaping. We live in very dense whitetail country at the foothills of the Allegany Mountains. If people are looking for an easy to use, all-natural repellent alternative, we have had great success with Deer Repellent Packs. They can be hung directly on the plants, trees or shrubs you wish to protect and last for up to 90 days. You can learn more about how they work and order if interested at

    • says

      Jeff, thank you so much for that information! Many readers may be interested in what you’re saying. The link is very helpful, too, so thank you for that!