Effective Tips for Deer-Proofing

Protecting Your Winter Landscape – Effective Tips for Deer-Proofing

You work hard all year round to keep your green space healthy and thriving. Protecting your landscape is equally, if not even more important in the winter. When the cold arrives, deer are hungry and will do most anything to obtain food. They can, and will, do extensive damage to flowerbeds, shrubs, and trees. Taking action as early as possible will prevent deer from returning to your area in the future, as they are great creatures of habit. Be proactive with these effective methods to protect your plants, trees, scrubs, and winter garden. 

Deer Fencing

By far the most effective overall technique for keeping your green space healthy and protected is a deer fence which is a physical barrier that encourages deer and other wildlife to move along to other green spaces and open areas. With a vast array of fencing styles available with regard to materials, height, and strength, it is an attractive and effective solution to deer concerns and costly damage. Deer do not like being confined, and because deer fencing is a defined perimeter, deer are not likely to jump over it, especially if it is the proper height. 

Deer can carry disease-laden ticks that effortlessly drop onto the ground, and, if not protected, into your garden. Installing fencing also means that you’ll be less likely to use toxic chemicals as deer repellants. The fencing is durable, lasting many years, and is highly weather resistant, making it a viable and sound solution to serious deer issues.


Sometimes there are smaller areas that require protection, as opposed to large yards and garden plantings. For example, deer might be attracted to certain species of trees or berms of green leafy bushes. You might have several dispersed small flowerbeds and deer fencing is not a practical choice. Netting allows for proper ventilation as well as the right amount of sunlight and rainfall that a little garden or single planting or tree requires. It also ensures that the area protected will continue to obtain the nutrients it requires, while at the same time, encouraging deer and other animals to roam elsewhere.


Purchased commercially or homemade, sprays will provide some protection from deer to plants, trees, and gardens. You can make your own sprays out of items such as dish soap, egg and hot sauce to repel deer. They have an extraordinary sense of smell, making them more likely to avoid strong odors. Be sure to apply the spray six to eight feet high on trees, which deer are easily able to reach. The spray solution must be reapplied after rain or snowfall and should be periodically applied as any strong odor dissipates.

Plan Your Planting Strategy

Before getting started with planting your garden or plotting out your green space, consider using deer resistant plants to help keep deer away. While you might not want to be limited to using only plants that deer find unappetizing, it’s possible to use them along the perimeter of your garden spaces to “fool” the deer into moving on. Ornamental grasses are a great option for perimeter planting. If you are fond of deer friendly plants like marigolds or roses, plant them closer to your house so that the home can serve as its own type of protection for the plants. 

Deer resistant plants include:

  • Begonias
  • Red Osier Dogwood
  • Chinese Juniper
  • Lilac
  • Dusty Miller
  • Lamb’s Ear


A short-term solution for keeping deer out of areas you wish to protect is hazing. This method involves frightening or “spooking” the deer into retreating from the area. This is a temporary fix because deer become accustomed to the methods and after a while, are no longer frightened away.

  • Motion activated sprinklers
  • Noisemakers
  • Sudden and irregular light and radio sources
  • Ribbons or windsocks tied to perimeter lines
  • Scarecrows
  • Wind chimes
  • Solar garden ornaments

How to Know if Deer are a Concern in Your Area

Almost any wildlife animal can cause destruction. It’s important to differentiate between the clues that are left behind on your trees or in your garden; to be sure you have a true deer issue.  

Clues include:

  • Garden crops are trampled
  • Deer don’t usually leave bite marks in bark
  • Deer droppings are present
  • Tree branches, twigs, and leaves are torn and frayed
  • Deer generally dine on branches that measure less than 1” in diameter
  • Damage to bark – it may look scraped or shredded – due to male deer rubbing their antlers on the bark creating a wound

Although it might seem as though the world has gone to sleep once winter comes, be assured that deer and other wildlife creatures are still roaming about, and that they are ravenously hungry. Take effective steps now to alter their path and/or deter them from accessing your cherished green space.