Preventing Deer and Rodent Damage

By Jan Cashman

Deer do more damage to our customers’ trees, shrubs, and flowers than any other disease or physiological problem. Besides selling your house and moving to the middle of town, what can you do to keep the deer from eating all your plants? Even homes on the outskirts of town with other houses around are affected. The deer feed at night; you probably never see them; you just see the damage they do to your plants. They seem to do the most damage in the fall when their other food supplies diminish. And, bucks rub their horns on the bark of young trees in the fall, doing considerable damage, even killing the tree.

Commercial Repellents

Several repellents are sold which are supposed to keep deer from eating the plant when sprayed on its leaves. Plant Skydd and Liquid Fence are two brands we sell. Reapply frequently. Try switching brands often so they don’t get used to one.

Household Remedies

Tie bars of strong smelling soap such as Irish Spring in the branches of your trees. Be sure to protect young fruit trees, a favorite of deer. Sprinkle blood meal around your flower bed or garden to deter deer and it will add Nitrogen to your soil. Again, reapply often. Net bags filled with human hair will repel deer. So will hot pepper sauce. Or plant garlic around the plants you want to protect. When one method seems to be losing effectiveness, try another.

Deer-Proof Plants

No plant is totally deer proof. If the deer are hungry enough, they will eat anything. However, deer do prefer some plants to others.

Other Solutions

Motion-activated yard lights might help keep the deer away. Dogs can help, too.


The only sure way to keep deer away from your plants is to fence them. A fence around your whole yard, tall enough so the deer can’t jump over it, is one way to fence. Or fence each tree you want to protect individually with 5 or 6 foot fencing. Wrap the trunks of young trees to protect them from bucks rubbing on them.


Young fruit trees, mountain ash, junipers, and maples are some of the trees that need to have their trunks protected from voles, tailless mice that live under the snow and feed on their bark. Poisons are also available. Tree wraps will help protect from rabbits, too.