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You slave away to make the most beautiful yard or garden you can, and then the deer enter. These majestic creatures of the wild have no reservations when it comes to munching your beautiful, tasty plants. They’ll chew just about anything right to the ground, including those painful-looking raspberry bushes. Good news: you can use deer repellent to help keep the deer away. But it can be confusing to know which deer repellent to buy, as there is a very wide variety of deer repellents on the market.
At BestReviews, our job is to help you figure out which product on the market is right for you. We perform deep research on the products available to you. We interview experts, poll consumers, and test some of the products ourselves in the BestReviews labs. To keep our reviews and recommendations as unbiased as possible, we never accept free samples or other incentives from manufacturers. Our goal is to provide you the honest information you need to maximize your money and time.
If the deer have been munching on your greenery and you want to keep them at bay, please check out the product matrix above for our top deer repellent picks.
If you’d like to learn more about the art of repelling deer, please continue reading this shopping guide.
A deer repellent is a physical and/or visual substance with an unpleasant taste, odor, sensation, or visual display that deer don’t like. Because deer have a very keen sense of smell, deer repellents often feature a spicy scent that they’re averse to.
Some deer repellents combine an unpleasant odor with an unpleasant taste. That way, if a deer ignores the smell, it will still get a mouthful of something it dislikes. Some deer repellent products incorporate several disgusting tastes and odors into one mix, such as dried blood, wintergreen oil, fishmeal, and rotten eggs.
Other repellents focus on sights, sensations, and textures that deer don’t like. They may feature water sprays, small electric shocks, flashing LED lights, or netting — a texture that bothers the animal.
How long a deer repellent lasts can depend on the method you’re using. A light repellent can last for years. A netting method can last until the elements fray or otherwise degrade the netting. A spray may need reapplication every few months or after a heavy rain. To find out how long your chosen method should last, refer to the instructions that come with the product.
One of the foods that deer like most, surprisingly, is acorns. The seeds provide a good source of protein.
Deer repellents come in a wide array of options, because what works for some deer may not stop others. Furthermore, some methods are easier to use than others.
Below, we’ll explore some of the most common deer repellent types: concentrates, sprays, lights, pouches, nettings, stations, granules, and electronic posts.
These liquid deer repellents come in handy spray bottles and ward off deer with unpleasant smells and tastes. They are a good option if you need to repel deer in a limited area, like a small flower garden. They’re also suitable if your goal is to protect a potted plant or two.
We don’t recommend relying on bottle spray deer repellent for an entire yard; that could get expensive quickly, as you’d be buying multiple bottles for one application across the whole yard.
This common type of deer repellent is one of the most cost-effective measures available.
You mix the concentrate with water and apply it directly to the plants you want to protect. The mixture repels deer with an unpleasant taste, odor, or both.
Concentrates tend to be long-lasting, and they are a great option if you need to cover a large space.
Deer like to munch on new growth the best. So pay close attention to new sprouts, buds, and young plants.
If you’d rather not soak your plants with strange odors and potential chemicals, consider the jet spray option. A jet spray deer repellent is a motion-activated water that blasts water at objects (like deer) that pass by.
If you’re looking for a way to repel both deer and other pests (like rabbits), consider a pouch option. You simply hang the pouches from the branches of shrubbery or other suspended items, and an unpleasant scent wards off pests.
Jet sprays are nice if you have a lot of different pests around, as they work on just about any type of animal going by. For obvious reasons, we do not recommend a jet spray if people or pets might come into its path.
The typical light deterrent will flash LED lights at nighttime yard invaders. Deer become spooked and run off, thinking there is a predator nearby. Often, this type of repellent is fueled by solar power. As such, it requires little maintenance.
Another deer repellent method requires you to sprinkle granules around your plants. The granules, which may contain ingredients like blood meal and garlic, repel deer by emitting their unpleasant odors.
Fortunately, many deer repellent pouches contain scents that are not repugnant to humans. These have a long life, protecting gardens for a year or more in some cases.
This deer repellent method is a little on the controversial side. A sweet scent lures the animal to the post. Then, when the animal touches the post with its nose, it receives a minor shock. The shock is meant to “teach” the animal to stay away from the area.
The shock of an electronic post is purportedly minor and not enough to harm the animal — it merely frightens it.
But it’s up to you to decide how comfortable you are with this method. With all the other options available, you may wish to explore them first.
If you don’t feel comfortable using an electronic post, don’t worry. There are plenty of other effective options available.
If you don’t mind the aesthetic look of netting over your plants, this is another option. It’s a simple method: the net obstructs the pests from getting to your plants. As long as the netting stays in tact, it can be a very long-lasting repellent to most pests.
Another way to repel deer is through stations. These typically come in the form of plastic round pods that you stake right into the ground. They distribute an unpleasant scent to deer, and the plastic casing often helps them stand up to the elements.
$12 to $20
In this lower price range, you’ll find many spray repellents and granules. Six-packs of deer repellent stations sit at the top of this price range.
$20 to $50
Larger amounts of repellent, such as 32-ounce concentrates and one-gallon ready-to-use liquids, sit in this price range. Light deterrents and netting products are also commonly found here.
$50 and up
Electric shock repellents typically cost a bit more than $50. Motion-activated sprays can cost around $70.
Read the instructions that come with whatever method you choose. You should not apply some repellents to edible plants, for instance. It’s important to know this.
Deer repellents are easy to use. You apply them or set them up and forget about them, in many cases.
To ensure success, here are some tips to get the most out of your deer repellent.
Pay close attention to how long the deer repellent will remain effective.
Longevity should be estimated in the instructions on the product. Some methods need reapplication after three months. Others only work until a heavy rain.
If you use a visual repellent like a flashing LED light, consider moving it occasionally.
Moving the light around the yard (like a real predator would move) makes it less predictable and more frightening to the animal.
A fence is another viable option for deterring deer, but installing one is an expensive proposition. If you install a fence to keep out deer, make sure it’s tall enough. Deer have been known to jump up to 15 feet in the air.
Watch for common “a deer was here” signs.
The most obvious sign that you’ve been invaded is chomped plants, but look for other signs as well, such flattened grass, droppings, and trees that have marks that look like antler rubbing. Treat these areas.
Some products come with a money-back guarantee.
Since different methods work for different deer, keep an eye out for offers like these.
Q. How long does deer repellent last?
A. That depends on the type of deer repellent you use. Liquid deterrents commonly need application every few days to three months, depending on the type. They may also need reapplication after rain. Other methods, such as shock posts and pouches, could last a year or more. For scent- and taste-based applications, refer to the instructions on the product.
Q. What’s better, deer repellent or a fence?
A. The problem with fences is that deer are quite ingenious about getting around them. Deer can push under them or, if the fence is under eight feet tall, they can leap over them. Furthermore, fences are costly, and they obstruct the view of the yard. So you may wish to try repellents before you build a tall, heavy-duty fence.
Q. I tried deer repellent, and it smelled horrible. Why try again?
A. It’s true — some deer repellents repel humans as much as deer, especially if the repellent is made to smell like animal urine (as some are). Fortunately, many repellents smell great to humans, including mint.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.