3 ways to stop deer damaging your garden

3 ways to stop deer damaging your garden

Seeing a real-life wild deer in your garden is thrilling – until you spot the trail of destruction following in Bambi’s wake. To a deer, a garden is just a delicious buffet of tasty treats laid on for its benefit. Deer eat foliage, flowers, and sometimes even tree bark during winter when other food is scarce. Male deer also damage tree branches and stems when they rub their antlers against them. Protecting your plants against deer isn’t always easy, but there are steps you can take to limit the damage.


1. Deer-resistant barriers

A deer-proof fence is the best way to keep deer out of your garden. To stop deer jumping over or finding their way under it, your fence will need to be at least 1.8m (6ft) high and made of heavy wire mesh pegged down to the ground. In areas where small muntjac deer are a problem, the mesh size should be no bigger than 7.5cm x 7.5cm (3in x 3in). For larger deer, use a maximum mesh size of 20cm x 15cm (8in x 6in). In case deer do still find their way in, it’s important to provide a way for them to get out again, such as a self-closing gate.

You can also protect individual trees with plastic tree guards that wrap around the trunks, or by surrounding each tree with stakes at least 1.5m high, so that deer can’t get close enough to eat the bark or to rub their antlers against it. Netting guards also work well for conifers and shrubs that don’t have clear stems.


2. Deer-repellent products

Animal repellent sprays, will usually discourage deer from browsing, although the sprays need to be reapplied frequently, particularly after it’s rained. Ultrasonic devices work for occasional deer intruders, but regular visitors to your garden may get used to the noise and start to ignore it. Deer do tend to steer clear of dogs though, so if all else fails, getting a pet dog may be the answer to your problems.


3. Deer-resistant plants

Sadly for gardeners, deer are not fussy about their food. However, there do seem to be some plants that they find less appealing. These include many plants with strongly scented leaves, especially herbs. Here are a few worth trying:

  • Stop deer damaging your garden Agapanthus
  • Alliums
  • Buddleja davidii (Butterfly bush)
  • Choisya ternata (Mexican orange blossom)
  • Cistus (Rock rose)
  • Euphorbia (Spurge)
  • Hellebores
  • Hydrangea
  • Lavender
  • Mint
  • Sage
  • Thyme

Take a look at what’s growing in your neighbours’ gardens too – this will give you a clue as to which plants your local deer do and don’t fancy.

Although deer can make life difficult for gardeners, they also provide an opportunity for us to find ways to live in harmony with our local wildlife. Come and visit the garden centre for more advice, products and plants to let you enjoy your garden as well as all its visitors! 

You might also be interested in:

What to do about badgers in your garden?

Many of us met our first badger in a bed-time story, whether it was the kindly and wise Mr Badger from The Wind and the Willows, Fantastic Mr Fox’s legal-minded Clive Badger Esq. or The Chronicles of Narnia’s loyal Trufflehunter. But anyone who’s woken to find their bins knocked over and holes dug in their lawn by badgers in search of supper may have a less rosy view. Badgers and their dwellings (setts) are protected by law, but there are some steps you can take to protect your garden.

DIY: indoor mini garden

Creating your own mini garden is really easy and great fun for all ages. Children love to make mini gardens as there is something whimsical and magical about them and they can look fantastic inside the house or outside on a patio, depending on the plants you pick. It is an opportunity to create a mini garden with a theme of your choice and get creative as you like. So grab your favourite little plants and accessories to put up a mini garden of your dreams.  

What we can learn from Roy Lancaster

Roy Lancaster is well known for presenting Gardeners World and appeared on other horticultural shows such as Gardeners Question Time. He is a prolific horticultural writer and speaker and he could be called a ‘Plant Hunter’ as his career took him all around the world discovering new plants. So what can we learn from Roy Lancaster?

How to make sure that Valentine’s bouquet lasts longer?

So you’ve received some beautiful flowers for Valentine’s Day from your loved one, or maybe a secret admirer and you want to keep them looking at their very best for as long as possible. With these tips, you can make sure your Valentine’s bouquet lasts as long as possible.