How to Repel Deer

Proven Tips on Repelling Deer From Your Yard & Answers to Your Questions

Protect your garden with I Must Garden Repellents

Don't feed the deer!

Got Deer?

Do you have a deer problem? You aren’t the only one! There are an estimated 32 million deer living in the United States, and parts of the country average over 200 deer per square mile! With numbers like that it is no wonder so many home owners and gardeners are looking for a solution to deer damage.

On this page you will find the answers to many of the most asked questions related to controlling and repelling deer.  The Master Gardeners and pest control experts at I Must Garden combined decades of field experience with rigorous scientific testing to develop the most comprehensive list of tips and solutions to deer problems on the web.

Want a quick summary of our best tips and tricks? Click here for a super Simple Guide to Repelling Deer.
If you don’t find your question/answer on this page, contact our office during business hours or send us a message using the pink Chat feature in the bottom right hand corner of your screen. Don’t let deer ruin your day, talk to an expert now!

Where did all of these deer come from?

After years of uninterrupted gardening it can be quite a surprise to see your first deer happily grazing on your flowers or vegetables. Why is there a deer in your yard now? Where did it come from?

5 reasons you have deer in your yard:

  1. Deer have a strong sense of smell and are highly attracted to our landscaped lawns.
  2. Your healthy garden provides easy access to year-round nutritious food, and it has been noticed by a local deer population.
  3. During droughts and cold weather natural food sources can be scarce, your lawn is a reliable source of food.
  4. Suburban areas are safer for deer with few natural predators present; the deer in your yard may be enjoying a stress-free meal.
  5. Your neighbors are protecting their plants with I Must Garden Deer Repellent, making your unprotected yard the next best option.

Check out “How to Repel Deer” to find out how to stop the deer damage now!

Additional Information:

Many people think that that the growth of suburbia and land development would keep the deer population down. It turns out the opposite is true. Not only is the deer population growing nationwide, they are thriving in areas with suburban development. But why?

New housing developments invariably plant new landscaping. New landscaping requires attention to get well established. We water, we mulch, we fertilize, and we grow beautiful, lush plants that are cared for and pruned to produce the biggest flowers and tastiest vegetables. We're not the only one who rejoice in seeing our plants grow and thrive. Deer also love this tender new growth. Deer have a very strong sense of smell and they are drawn to our wonderfully fertilized plants like a moth to light. As a local deer population starts associating people with easy access to nutritious food, they become more comfortable coming out of the woods to eat.

Deer eat a lot, especially in the summer and fall when they are building up fat stores for the winter. That doesn’t mean deer like to eat everything equally. Plants that are high in fiber, like grass, isn’t very appealing to deer because it is hard to digest. During droughts and cold weather desirable food can become scarce for deer. Many landscaped lawns have plants growing year-round, giving deer a reliable food source throughout even the harshest winters. Once a deer associates your lawn with this safety net of nutrition it will be difficult to keep them away. Check out “Plants Deer Will Eat” and “What can I plant to deter deer?” for a more information on deer feeding habits.

Deer are used to looking for sources of food, which is why they eat almost anything if they are hungry enough! Check out “What do deer eat?” for a list of their favorite foods.

Your yard also represents a safe place for deer to graze and eat. The natural predators that roam the deer’s natural environments don’t venture into housing developments. And with deer easily hopping over your 4ft. yard fence, you may start wondering who is actually living in the gated community.

With so many reasons to come eat in your lawn and garden it is no wonder that getting rid of deer is such a challenge! Looking for a silver lining? The fact that deer have chosen your yard must mean you’re doing something right! Now it’s time to take the right steps to stop the deer from ruining your hard work. Numerous studies have shown egg-based repellents like I Must Garden Deer Repellent to be the most effective at repelling deer. We take it to the next level by adding botanical oils from plants that deer naturally avoid; giving you the strongest deer repellent on the market without the stench of other leading brands.

Read “How do I Repel Deer?” to find out how to stop the deer damage now!

Plants Deer Will Eat

There are countless inter-related variables affecting what deer will eat in any given year. Just a few of these variables include: population and overall health of the deer, weather conditions, geography and sources of food naturally available in surrounding woods and forested areas.

Deer Resistent Plants

It's been proven that deer will eat any plant if hungry enough, however that's under extreme conditions. The following list represents what plants are normally resistent to being eaten by deer.

The following list has been compiled from gardening surveys from across the United States.

What does deer damage look like?

Because deer often feed during the night it can be hard to catch them in the act. Look for these signs of deer damage to help identify your garden pest:

3 Common Signs of Deer Damage

Torn Leaves

Torn and jagged leaves and twigs. Deer don’t have upper front teeth so they tear and twist plants to collect food, leaving jagged leaves and twigs behind. Compare this to rabbits, who leave behind leaves that look they’ve been cut with scissors.
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Tree Damage from Deer Rubbing

Vertical scrape marks on trees and shrubs. Deer rub their antlers along trees and shrubs to remove velvet and mark their territory. This leaves vertical scrape marks and shredded bark on limbs and trunks. Damage to the bark of shrubs and trees can be devastating, especially for young plants, read “How Do I Stop Deer from Damaging my Trees?” for great tips on preventing and stopping this type of behavior.
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Plant Material Not Eaten

Plant material on the ground. Because of the rough tearing motion used by deer to collect food, they often leave behind leaves and plant material on the ground. Other pests like rabbits and groundhogs are much neater eaters.

Signs of general deer activity in your area

Read the next section to help identify other signs of deer activity in your area. If you see signs of deer activity in your yard you can bet that they are the pests damaging your plants.

If you’re still not sure if you have a deer problem or if a different garden pest eating your plants, read our General FAQ about “How to Identify Pest Damage” or give the I Must Garden office a call and let our pest detectives solve the case of your missing hostas!

Recognizing Deer Activity in Your Area

It can be hard to identify which pest you are dealing with when you don’t actually see them eating your plants. Look for these common signs of deer activity to help determine if they are visiting you yard.

4 Common Signs of Deer Activity

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Hoof prints with 2 tear-drop shapes

Deer hoof prints are very distinct. They consist of 2 tear-drop like shapes side by side with a small dot below each one. The dot is actually an impression of small claws, or nails, below each hoof. Hoof prints can range in size from 2-6 inches, though the larger sizes are only found on big bucks. Hoof prints are easy to see in snow, mud, sand, and soft soil – but seeing their tracks on a healthy lawn can be tricky. If you see prints you can try counting how many sets you see to determine the size of your local herd.
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Piles of 50-100 uniformly ovular droppings

Deer droppings are usually found in small piles or clusters. They range in size from ½- ¾ inches long. They have a dark brown appearance, and will be moist if they are fresh. Rabbit droppings, in comparison, have smaller, pea-sized, droppings.
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Worn away depressions in grass or leaves

Deer beddings are oval shaped areas where deer lay down to rest. Many deer return to the same area time and time again, leaving a worn away depression in the surrounding area. Large amounts of droppings or tree rubbings can indicate you are close to a deer bedding.
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Bark that has been rubbed away from trees or shrubs

As we mentioned in our list of Common Signs of Deer Damage, deer often rub their antlers against trees and shrubs to remove velvet and mark territory. These telling rubs are a sure sign that you have deer in your area.

If you are having trouble identifying the signs of deer damage in your area, give us a call or send us a message using the pink Chat feature in the bottom right hand corner of your screen.

Deer leaf damage
Deer leaf damage
Deer leaf damage

How do I Repel Deer?

Read a quick summary of our best tips and tricks

At I Must Garden we may have perfected Deer Repellent, but we certainly didn’t invent it. People have been coming up with new ways to deter deer for generations, so how do you know which method is right for you? We put together a list of the most effective methods for repelling deer based scientific research, years of trial and error, and decades of personal experience.

5 Best Deer Repellents

  1. Egg Based Deer Repellent. In 2010 the Connecticut Department of Forestry published the most extensive research to date on the success rate of different deer repellents. Egg based deer repellent outperformed pain based, taste based, and conditioned aversion based repellent methods. It is not a coincidence that I Must Garden Deer Repellent utilizes that powerful egg base. We took it one step farther than our simple egg based competitors, however, by adding botanical oils from plants deer naturally avoid in nature. These added oils not only make I Must Garden Deer Repellent the best deer repellent on market, but it also makes our repellents smell pleasant to humans and awful to deer. Think we may be giving you biased results? Go look at I Must Garden Deer Repellent Reviews around the internet and you will find consistently positive feedback above industry standards. For detailed instructions on how to apply liquid deer repellent go to “How do I apply deer repellent?”.
  2. Netting and Tree Wraps. Physical barriers like netting and tree wraps can be an eye-sore, but these useful covers are especially popular with vegetable gardeners who are more concerned with a bountiful harvest than a beautiful garden. Tree wraps are incredibly useful when you are trying to protect young saplings or shrubs that are vulnerable to pest damage. If you have the time and energy you can try draping your plants in the evening when deer are most likely to feed, and then remove them in the morning so you can enjoy your lawn and garden. If deer consistently find netting when they come by for a snack they may just start skipping your lawn and move on to the buffet next door (if they are nice neighbors you should tell them to come check out like you did!).
  3. Fences. Good fences may make good neighbors, but they make better deer deterrents. Fences are expensive investments, and must be maintained regularly to stay effective and aesthetic. A good deer fence also needs to be upwards of 8ft. high to keep deer out, which translates to a hefty investment. That being said, if you are serious about gardening, or maintaining a pristine landscape without monthly applications of a topical repellent (like I Must Garden Deer Repellent!), then you should consider this option. An extra bonus of having a fence? You never have to worry about your kids…err, dogs running off!
  4. Dogs, cats or other pets We can’t tell you which animal to let loose in your backyard, but we can tell you that deer are naturally skittish and can be chased off quite easily. Having an animal, or even an energetic child, running around the backyard is an excellent deer deterrent.
  5. Homemade Recipes and Tricks: It’s time to ask a house wife for their best tales of old family tricks and recipes. We have gathered (and tried!) so many of these over the years we decided to make an entire section dedicated to the best homemade deer repellents – check it out here.

For additional tips and tricks look at our other deer related questions on this page.

How do I Keep Deer Out of My Garden?

The 3 best strategies for keeping deer OUT of your lawn and garden are:

  1. Build a tall fence.
  2. Let a pet protect your yard.
  3. Motion activated sprinklers.

Keeping deer physically off your property can be a lot of work, and can also be a costly investment. Before resorting to these extreme measures, you may want to try consistently applying a strong repellent like I Must Garden Deer Repellent. It is possible to condition a local deer population to avoid your lawn if they always run into freshly treated plants. It is important to start applying repellent before a deer problem starts. Preventative applications in late winter/early spring can go a long way in protecting your lawn and garden throughout the growing season.

How Can I Stop Deer From Eating My Plants?

The most effective way to stop deer from eating your plants is to regularly treat them with a topical (sprayed directly on) egg-based repellent. Applications must be made at least once a month, or more frequently if local deer pressure is high.

We emphasize the word regularly above because protecting plants from serious deer pressure is not a one-and-done treatment. There are no repellents on the market that last all year, and any product claiming to do so is making false claims. At I Must Garden we spent years studying the best all-natural sticking agents that make our repellent last as long as possible, but most repellents on the market, including I Must Garden Deer Repellent, still recommend spraying plants at least once a month, and reapplying after heavy rains. This regular treatment keeps the scent strong on your plants and slowly conditions local populations to stay away. After a period of regular treatment with I Must Garden Deer Repellent some gardeners have success with a more relaxed application cycle, only going back to frequent treatments when pressure picks back up.

Regularly treating your plants with deer repellent can seem like a chore, but we have a ton of tips and tricks that you can use to make application quick and easy. For example, did you know that we just created a Hose-End Deer Repellent that can cover 10,000 sq. ft. in under 10 minutes? You can learn about all of our time-saving products, and find detailed information on how to best apply deer repellent in this section “How do I apply deer repellent?”, or visit the Deer Repellent section of our website for fast and secure purchasing options.

Some gardeners chose other protection methods that we discussed in an early section “How do I repel deer?”, while other’s choose to grow specific plants that are less likely to be eaten by deer. You can find more information about those plants in this section “What are the best deer resistant plants?”

What do deer eat?

Read Our List of Plants Deer Eat

We compiled a list of foods that deer love. Knowledge of the plants deer are most attracted to is a valuable tool for minimizing damage. Keep reading below for detailed information on flowers, trees and shrubs that often attract deer.

6 Foods Deer Love

  1. Fruit. Deer love fruit. There is a reason hunters love setting up stands near apple trees and berry bushes. The smell of ripe or fallen fruit can attract deer from far away, and trying to keep deer away from fruiting plants in your yard can be a struggle.
  2. Flowers. Hostas, Hydrangeas, Roses and Daylilies…why do deer love to eat our garden super stars?! Deer are attracted to blooming flowers because they smell good and are tender. The delicate blooms are easy to digest and deer will dig through the thorny branches of a rose bush for a bite of tasty flowers.
  3. Vegetables/Crops. If you think you have a deer problem try talking to local farmers! Growing crops in a deer heavy area can be frustrating, and applications of a natural repellent like I Must Garden Deer Repellent has to be frequent, heavy, and start early in order to maintain control.
  4. Forbs. Forbs are a group of plants that are generally broad leafed and flowering. They are not grass-like or woody plants, traits that deer do not enjoy as much as the easier-to-digest forbs. Many forbs are considered weeds, like clover, but some garden staples are also forbs, like daylilies and sunflowers. If you have ever tried to grow any of the plants just mentioned, in a deer-rich area, you probably learned how much deer love forbs the hard way!
  5. Browse/Shrubs. Browse is a term that refers to tender leaves and twigs that are found on shrubs, low branches, and young trees. Once again deer are drawn to plants that are easy to digest and highly nutritious, and browse meets both of those qualifications. Browse is often the best food source in winter, and that is when gardeners see the most damage to ornamental shrubs and young trees.
  6. Nuts. Nuts offer a reliable high-fat food source in the late summer and fall, which is perfect for deer looking to fatten up before a long winter. If you have an Oak, Pecan, Hickory, or other nut producing tree in your yard, you can expect a visit from local deer when those nuts begin to drop. Keeping your yard free of excess nuts is a great first step in preventing increased deer activity.

If you live in an area that has a large deer population you must take every precaution when trying to grow any of these foods. It is unrealistic to suggest avoiding all of these plants, but consider planting deer resistant plants among the deer favorites to minimize damage – compare this approach to finding out a cookie actually has raisins and not chocolate chips…you’re still going to eat the cookies, but you may eat less of them. 

For more information on deer resistant plants read our next section “What are the most deer resistant plants?”

There are many variables that affect what deer eat throughout the year including: time of year, geography, local population, weather, and availability of naturally foraged foods. We have taken information from garden surveys across the country and compiled this list of proven deer favorites in 3 categories: Annuals, Perennials, and Trees & Shrubs

What plants do deer NOT eat?

Read Our List of Plants Deer Don't Eat

The best deer resistant plants fall into one of three categories:

  1. Plants that are toxic to deer. Commonly grown plants that are slightly toxic to deer include: daffodils, poppies, nightshades, and foxgloves. Despite being poisonous, deer will still nibble on them a little at a time if left untreated, especially when food is scarce.
  2. Plants that smell terrible to deer. Commonly grown plants that smell bad to deer include: marigolds, peonies, lavender, and many herbs such as mint, cinnamon, and sage. We actually use some of the botanical oils from these plants to strengthen the I Must Garden Deer Repellent (and make them smell pleasant to humans!).
  3. Plants that hurt to chew on. Not many plants fall into this category but we often hear from people that have success planting decorative cactus, holly, or plants like lambs ear. On the other side of the coin we have heard from countless customers who have called us astonished after deer had eaten those very same plants!

No plant we have come across is completely deer resistant when food is scarce. If you combine these plants with a repellent treatment program, however, you can really minimize the potential damage, even during winter months when deer get the most desperate. Many gardeners take deer-resistant plants from the following list and place them among the more vulnerable plants in their garden. This strategy can keep the deer guessing, and it may just convince them to try their luck in your neighbor’s lawn instead.

There are many variables that affect what deer eat throughout the year including: time of year, geography, local population, weather, and availability of naturally foraged foods. We have taken information from garden surveys across the country and compiled this list of proven deer-resistant plants in 3 categories: Annuals, Perennials, and Trees & Shrubs

How Do I Apply Deer Repellent?

Apply Deer Repellent in 5 Easy Steps

  1. Spray plants thoroughly. Cover plants with a fine mist until runoff.
  2. Apply to dry plants and allow repellent to dry for at least 1 hour before rain or watering. This helps the repellent adhere to the plants, giving it long-lasting effectiveness and rain-resistance.
  3. Reapply repellent every 2-4 weeks. Areas with heavy deer pressure may require more frequent applications.
  4. Touch up new growth regularly. During the growing season consider spraying every 2 inches of new growth. Adjust application times as necessary depending on weather conditions and rate of plant growth.
  5. Apply repellent in the morning or evening. Spraying in the heat of the day and in direct sunlight exposes plants to the possibility of burning. Good gardening practice recommends NOT spraying in direct sunlight and NOT spraying during the hottest time of the day

These 5 Easy Steps were designed for I Must Garden Deer Repellent. We always think you should use the best product available, but if you do choose to use another brand please consult their instructions before applying.

Tips and Tricks for Applying Deer Repellent

If you followed our 5 Easy Steps for Applying Deer Repellent you will be well on your way to a beautiful lawn and garden. Here are a few additional tips that will make your applications go as quickly and easily as possible:

  1. Invest in a high quality sprayer. Treating large lawns and gardens with deer repellent can be time consuming without the proper equipment. If you are not planning on using our Hose End Deer Repellent (10,000 sq ft), or Ready-to-Use Pump Spray bottles (1,400 sq ft), than we suggest investing in a high quality pressure sprayer. This can take the form of a handheld sprayer, like our custom built I Must Garden 1 Gallon Sprayer, or a larger backpack sprayer.
  2. Taking proper care of your sprayer is essential if you want it to function properly for multiple years. Be sure to mix concentrated deer repellent well before spraying to avoid clogs, and always rinse your sprayer out after use. We recommend filling your sprayer with water after rinsing and spraying water through the hose to remove any residual repellent.

  3. Utilize concentrated repellents. Buying concentrated deer repellent is the most cost effective way to protect your lawn and garden all year long. I Must Garden Concentrated Deer Repellent is available in 3 sizes and can be safely stored in proper conditions.
  4. 32oz Concentrate – Covers 10,000 sq ft

    1 Gallon Concentrate – Covers 40,000 sq ft

    2.5 Gallon Concentrate – Covers 100,000 sq ft

    I Must Garden Deer Concentrate Products:

  5. Use the New I Must Garden Hose End Deer Repellent. While it may seem that many of these tips revolve around I Must Garden products, we ask that you remember who we are and why we care about things like convenient application and cost efficient options. We are gardeners, short and simple. Our company name, I Must Garden, is more than a brand; it is our way of life. Last year we wanted to design a Hose-End Deer Repellent that actually worked, so that our customers (and our employees!) would have access to the fastest and easiest way to apply deer repellent. This is what we came up with:

I Must Garden Hose End Deer Repellent

- Covers 10,000 sq ft in minutes

- Simply attach to your hose and spray

- Superfast application, no measuring or mixing!

- Pleasantly scented like all IMG products

- Rainproof, long-lasting, and guaranteed

You can purchase a Hose End Deer Repellent here, or use our Dealer Locator to find a local I Must Garden carrier.

How Do I Mix Concentrates?

Follow these steps for perfectly mixed concentrates every time:

  1. Shake the bottle of concentrate vigorously. This is especially true for natural repellents, like I Must Garden products, which have ingredients that separate over time. It is important to shake the concentrate before pouring it into your sprayer to avoid clogging or improper dilution.
  2. Pour half the total amount of water into your container. This is a step that is certainly not required, but we believe it makes getting the perfect concentrate mixture much easier. Instead of trying to mix an overflowing sprayer, or trying to shake a super heavy container, try only putting in half of the needed water before adding the concentrated repellent. This will be enough water to thin the concentrate, and when you add the second half of the water it will combine easily with the partially diluted concentrate. 
  3. Measure desired amount of concentrate and pour into mixing container – mix vigorously. All I Must Garden products are mixed at a 1:9 ratio, meaning 1 part repellent to 9 parts water. It is very useful to have access to a measuring device with ounces marked at this stage. If you are using the I Must Garden 1 Gallon Sprayer you would use 13oz of repellent and 115oz of water to get 1 Gallon of finished repellent. All I Must Garden Concentrates come with a mixing guide on the back of the bottle.
  4. Pour second half of water into your container and combine thoroughly. After this stage there should be no lumps in your mixture.
  5. Transfer mixture into sprayer and treat plants. If you are not already mixing the repellent in a sprayer it is time to transfer the mixture to your chosen application tool. Spraying plants with I Must Garden Concentrate Deer Repellent mixture is the same as spraying with a ready-to-use spray, you can refer to the section “How to Apply Deer Repellent” for detailed application instructions. 
  6. After spraying, wash out sprayer thoroughly. Rinse out your sprayer with water, and then spray water through the hose and nozzle to remove any residual repellent. Cleaning your sprayer after each use will add years of life to your sprayer and will also ensure an even product distribution at each application.

When Should I Apply Deer Repellent?

What is the best time of day to apply deer repellent?

The best time to apply deer repellent is in the early evening. Deer primarily feed under the cover of darkness, so applying the repellent in the evening guarantees the scent will be strongest when deer are coming around to eat. Additionally, the morning dew on plants will interfere with the natural sticking agents in I Must Garden Deer Repellent so applying the evening is ideal for long-lasting results. It is also good gardening practice to never apply topical sprays to plants during the day, as exposure to the sun could cause burning on delicate plants.

It is important to let the repellent dry for at least an hour before it rains or you water. You should take this into consideration when you are finding the best time to apply repellent. We suggest applying repellent in the evening and watering plants in the morning.

What is the best time of year to apply deer repellent?

The best time of year to start applying deer repellent is whenever you have new plants emerging – which is often in the early spring season. Starting deer repellent application before you actually start seeing deer activity/damage is the best way to protect your plants for the coming year. For example, if you wait to apply repellent until your flowers start blooming it may be too late to condition the deer to avoid your plants. Start applications early, and increase frequency when your flowers and/or vegetables start to bloom.  

While young trees and shrub sometimes require year round protection as well, it is important to give them extra attention during the fall and winter. As food gets scarcer, deer will resort to more fibrous foods, like the tender branches of shrubs and bark of young trees. Applying repellent or utilizing deer netting during colder months is a great way to protect these vulnerable plants. If you are growing a winter garden, especially if you are growing winter greens and vegetables, it is essential to apply repellent frequently and heavily. Your garden will be the best food source in the area and it will take work to convince the local deer to eat elsewhere.

Deer application times and rates will vary greatly depending on population, geography, and weather. Carefully monitor activity and damage and adjust application rates to maintain control. If you have any questions about the best time or rate to apply deer repellent give us a call and we will happily help you plan an effective application schedule.

I Must Garden Office: 877-446-2929 or send us an email

How Often Should I Apply Deer Repellent?

The average application rate required for deer repellent is: one application per month. More frequent applications are often necessary if any of the following conditions exist:

  1. Above average deer pressure in your area. If you have a large population, or desperately hungry deer, you will need to apply repellent once every 1-2 weeks until you notice a decrease in pressure.
  2. You are trying to break an established feeding habit. If deer already have been eating your plants for some time it will be hard to break their habit without heavy and frequent applications. You may need to apply repellent every week until you see a change in behavior.
  3. There is heavy rainfall. I Must Garden Deer Repellent has natural stickers that make it rain-resistant, but any topical deer repellent requires re-application after heavy rain. Be sure to let plants dry completely before applying repellent.
  4. Your plants are experiencing rapid growth. During the growing season for you plants you will need to touch up new growth with deer repellent. We recommend spraying for every 2 inches of new growth. Growing seasons change depending on the zone you are in.
  5. You are growing any of the foods deer love. See our list of “Foods Deer Love” above. If you are trying to grow fruits, vegetables, or any number of their favorite flowers you will need to monitor them closely for deer activity. Sometime once a month is fine, even on hostas or tomatoes, but we also know many gardeners who apply I Must Garden Deer Repellent every 1-2 weeks to protect their favorite plants.
  6. Food is scarce. If your area is experiencing a drought, cold weather, or a tough growing season, deer will be more likely to venture into your yard in search of a meal. When it comes to survival, most animals will resort to eating anything of nutritional value to stay alive. During these scarce times it will be important to monitor all your plants, even ones that are typically immune to deer damage.

Deer repellent application times and rates will vary greatly depending on population, geography, and weather. Carefully monitor activity and damage and adjust application rates to maintain control. If you have any questions about the best time or rate to apply deer repellent give us a call and we will happily help you plan an effective application schedule.

I Must Garden Office: 877-446-2929 or send us an email

Is There a Danger to Over-Spraying Deer Repellent?

There is no danger to over-spraying I Must Garden Deer Repellent. You should apply the repellent at whatever rate is required to maintain control. And unlike other brands, I Must Garden Deer Repellent has a pleasant scent and is safe for people, pets, and the environment. You never need to worry about how often you spray deer repellent again!

Please read our section on “How to Apply Deer Repellent” for detailed application instructions.

Do I Have to Spray Deer Repellent on Dry Plants?

Yes! The all natural sticking agents in I Must Garden Repellents only work if you spray repellent on dry plants. Not only should you apply repellent to dry plants, you need to let repellent dry for at least 1 hour before watering or rainfall. That is why we suggest applying repellent in the evening, and watering plants in the morning (when the plants are already wet with dew).  After the repellent dries it will form a rain-resistant film, giving you long-lasting protection from deer.

When Should I Water My Plants After Applying Deer Repellent?

We suggest applying your deer repellent in the evening to dry plants, and then watering your plants in the morning. Deer repellent needs at least an hour to dry on treated plants before watering or rainfall. If you are a serious gardener with a serious deer problem we highly recommend investing in an irrigation system. Not only do irrigation systems supply water directly to the root systems of plants, conserving water in the process, but they minimize the applied deer repellent’s exposure to water which maximizes its effectiveness.

TIP: If you are in an area that experiences heavy or frequent rainfall we suggest looking into our Granular Animal Repellent. Applying granular repellent is quick and easy, and you don’t have to worry about it washing off of your plants. You will still need to re-apply after heavy rains, but it is perfect for the seemingly endless weeks of drizzle. It is also perfect for cold weather when it is too cold for liquid sprays!

TIP: When you apply your deer repellent you can take time to spray the underside of leaves as well as the top. The underside of the leaves are naturally protected from exposure to rain and sun, which gives the repellent applied there protection as well. This is a great trick for long-lasting deer control even in harsh weather.

Can I Apply Deer Repellent in the Winter?

You can apply liquid deer repellent until temperatures go below freezing. When temperatures go below 32F you risk damaging plants if you spray foliage with any water based spray. During the winter it is recommended to apply repellent at the warmest time of day, giving it time to dry before temperatures drop again at night.

For super simple winter deer protection use I Must Garden Granular Animal Repellent. Granular Animal Repellent has no risk of freezing, and can even be applied on top of snow for year-round protection.

Despite the need for additional precautions when applying repellent in the winter, it is still important to maintain regular treatments. You can relax your application schedule during the winter if you see less deer activity, but keeping the local population conditioned to avoid your plants during the winter will make spring and summer control much easier to maintain.

If you have any questions about winter applications, or our Granular Animal Repellent, please contact our office during regular business hours or write us an email any time.

I Must Garden Office: 877-446-2929

Why do deer repellents smell so bad?

There are many types of deer repellent, and most of them have a very foul rotten egg odor. At I Must Garden we wanted to create a repellent that had a pleasant scent, and still worked better than other leading brands. We combined the highly effective egg-based repellent concept with carefully selected botanical oils which not only strengthen our repellent, but make it smell nice as well. Other brands that don’t use oils have a strong rotten egg smell that sticks to your clothes and hangs around your lawn and garden for days. Don’t subject yourself to the stench, try I Must Garden Deer Repellent today and smell the difference.

How do I store unused deer repellent?

Left over deer repellent should be stored at room temperature in an air tight container. In these conditions repellent can stay effective for 1-2 years. Before using repellent that has been sitting unused, be sure to shake the bottle vigorously until contents are combined and smooth.

Unopened repellent should also be stored at room temperature. In this condition unopened repellent can remain effective for 2-3 years. Always shake repellent vigorously before using. 

Should I use liquid repellent or granular?

If you are only going to use one repellent and have to choose between a liquid or granular, we suggest going with a liquid repellent in most circumstances. There are advantages and disadvantages of both liquid and granular repellents, however, and the strongest protection possible is a combination of I Must Garden Deer Repellent and Granular Animal Repellent. 

Liquid Repellent:

Liquid repellent can be used on any size plants from newly emerging seedlings to towering sunflowers. It is easy to tell which plants have been treated so there are no gaps in your coverage. I Must Garden offers liquid Deer Repellent in two scents, Mint and Spice, and in many different sizes of ready-to-use and concentrated repellents. This variety allows you to find the perfect repellent for your needs, and the option to use concentrates often makes liquid repellent more cost-efficient than granular.

The major drawback of liquid repellent is that it can’t be used when temperatures drop below freezing. It can also be hard to spray hard-to-reach plants with liquid repellent depending on the type of sprayer you are using. 

Granular Repellent:

The I Must Garden Granular Animal Repellent is perfect for low growth, rapidly growing plants, and cold weather applications. It is easy to broadcast, by hand or with a spreader, and is great for hard to reach plants. The powerful granules in our Animal Repellent actually repel all herbivories, including Deer, Rabbits, and Groundhogs. Since granular rests on the ground it offers long-lasting protection for shorter plants, and is a time-saver during the growing season. Unlike liquid repellents, which need to be reapplied to new growth, the I Must Garden Granular repellent continues protecting plants even during rapid growth.

Granular repellent is not as effective as liquid when it comes to protecting tall plants. In order to get protection for larger plants with granular repellent you need to expand the area you are treating well beyond the plant. We do offer large containers of I Must Garden Granular Repellent at discounted prices, but compared to the coverage our large format concentrates offer, the granular still ends up being a bit more expensive. Even with the added cost, however, many people prefer the convenience of granular and it remains a very popular product.

Using both Liquid and Granular:

If you are dealing with heavy deer pressure there is no stronger protection you can invest in than the combination of I Must Garden Deer Repellent and Granular Animal Repellent. The two repellents each utilize different deterring ingredients, giving you a full range of repelling scents and tastes.  The combination is perfect for the growing season with the liquid repellent giving you strong topical protection and the granular protecting the new growth until you have time to reapply the liquid.

You can purchase the I Must Garden Deer Repellent and Granular Animal Repellent on our website, or use our Dealer Locator to find a local I Must Garden carrier.

How can I stop deer from eating my roses?

3 Steps to Stop Deer from Eating Your Roses

  1. Start spraying your rose bush before buds appear. Deer love roses. They will eat almost every part of a rose bush, including the branches if food is scarce, but they love the tender buds and blooms most of all. Conditioning deer to avoid your rose bush before the plant starts producing buds is the best way to protect your beautiful rose flowers when they bloom. Most roses start developing buds in late winter and bloom in the early spring. We suggest applying I Must Garden Deer Repellent to your rose bush starting in the late winter, or as soon as you start seeing buds develop. You should be applying repellent about once a month at this stage.
  2. Increase frequency of deer repellent applications when buds develop. As buds develop on your rose bush start increasing the frequency of your applications. Apply repellent to the entire bush, paying special attention to the developed buds. Apply deer repellent every 2 weeks at this stage.
  3. Spray weekly when flowers bloom. When your roses start blooming consider spraying your rose bush on a weekly basis. This extra application will help protect your flowers at their most vulnerable stage. Do not worry about over spraying I Must Garden Deer Repellent – it will not harm your plants.

The best advice we can give for protecting the plants that deer love the most, like roses, is to start applications early, and increase frequency as the plants grow and bloom. To purchase I Must Garden Deer Repellent visit our website here, or look for a local dealer using our Dealer Locator.

How can I stop deer from eating my hostas?

3 Tips to Stop Deer from Eating Your Hostas

  1. Spray early, spray often. We receive more complaints about deer eating hostas than any other plant. The best advice is to spray I Must Garden Deer Repellent on your hostas year-round, even when they are dormant in the winter. Increase your applications when hostas start to grow in the spring and early summer, and apply repellent heavily when your hostas are blooming. If you wait until they are blooming before you spray, the deer will still do a lot of damage as they nibble and graze.
  2. Consider using a granular + liquid repellent combination. Because hostas are generally low to the ground, I Must Garden Granular Animal Repellent works well to protect them, especially when they are growing rapidly in the spring and summer. Using I Must Garden Deer Repellent to supplement your granular applications will strengthen your protection when you need it most, and keep the deer guessing. The Granular Animal Repellent has the added bonus of repelling rabbits and groundhogs in addition to deer.
  3. Use netting to protect hostas. Using netting to protect hostas is one of the most reliable ways to deter deer. Many gardeners turn to netting in the fall and winter when food is scarce and deer start doing serious damage to vulnerable plants. Since hostas lose some of their beauty in the winter, draping them with netting isn’t as much of an eyesore in the winter. Using netting during winter months is also nice because you can avoid having to go out in the cold to spray repellent every month!

The best advice we can give for protecting the plants that deer love the most, like hostas, is to start applications early, and increase frequency as the plants grow and bloom. To purchase I Must Garden Deer Repellent visit our website here, or look for a local dealer using our Dealer Locator.

How can I stop deer from damaging my trees?

Deer can cause damage to trees in 2 ways:

  1. Rubbing their antlers against trees to remove velvet and mark their territory, and
  2. Eating the bark and tender branches from young trees and shrubs

The best way to stop deer damage to your trees is to invest in tree wraps, netting, or wire fencing. While repellent like I Must Garden Deer Repellent is a strong deterrent against deer eating bark and branches, the physical barriers do a better job of protecting against rubbings. Deer are most active at night, so if you want to minimize unsightly wraps or netting on your trees and shrubs you can place them on your plants in the evening, and remove them in the morning when they are less vulnerable.

Does soap repel deer?

The short answer is – soap sometimes deters deer. Soap is not as consistently effective as commercial deer repellents, and hanging soap only works for a short period of time in most circumstances. The theory behind soap repellent is simple; deer are cautious of strong new scents and will sometimes avoid pungent areas if another food source is nearby. Problems occur as the soap loses its scent and/or deer become used to the unusual odor. Unlike I Must Garden Granular Animal Repellent, which actually triggers a fear response in deer, the soap scent has a much shorter effective window. That being said, if you have some extra bar soap lying around it might be worth a shot before buying repellents or fencing. We outlined the most popular approach to using soap as a deer deterrent below:

How to Deter Deer with Soap

  1. Buy strongly scented soap like Irish Springs. Mild and oil based soaps will not deter deer, and some will even attract them. Irish Springs is the most popular brand for this technique.
  2. Put each bar of soap in a breathable stocking, cloth, or bag. Take each bar of soap and place it in a breathable holder. Many people use nylon stockings or pieces of burlap. Alternatively, you can drill a hole in each bar and loop a string through.
  3. Tie a bar of soap within 3 ft. of the plant you are protecting. Soap does not have a large area of effectiveness (when it is effective at all!). You will need 1 bar of soap for every 3-5 feet or area you want protected. Tie each bar to a stake or convenient tree branch. Many people suggest not hanging soap directly above plants as the drippings could harm delicate foliage.
  4. Replace bars as they lose their scent or wear away. Soap will wear away quite quickly when exposed to weather. Monitor soap carefully and replace it when needed (about every 1-2 weeks)
  5. Buy I Must Garden Deer Repellent when you realize soap doesn’t work that well. Inevitably, most people find out that soap is more trouble than it’s worth. When you are ready to try deer repellent we think you should use the best. I Must Garden Deer Repellent has a pleasant scent, is all natural, and most importantly it is proven effective at repelling deer. Don’t take our word for it, go look at reviews for our products online; how many companies would tell you to do that?

See our post on “Best homemade deer repellents” for more information on DIY deer protection!

Using fishing line to deter deer

Using fishing line to deter deer is moderately successful in certain areas. The theory behind a fishing line fence is that deer will bump into the near-invisible lines and get startled enough to run away. To construct a fishing line fence simply place posts/garden stakes around your garden every 5-10 feet, and then tie lengths of fishing line between each post leaving 8-12 inches between each horizontal length. The smaller the distance between posts, and between the lengths of fishing line, the better your protection will be. Like all do-it-yourself deer control methods, there are advantages and disadvantages to this approach.

Advantages of a Fishing Line Deer Fence

  1. They are almost invisible. People love fishing line (when it works) because it is so transparent and thin that it blends into the background.
  2. They are simple and cheap. All you need to make a fishing line deer fence is a large spool decently weighted line (popular options are 15# line, but some go for a much stronger weight), and enough fence posts or garden stakes to place one ever 5-10 feet.
  3. They work well in combination with deer repellent. If your deer pressure is fairly light, and there are only small areas of your yard that you are trying to protect, than a fishing line fence may work by itself. In combination with regular application of I Must Garden Deer Repellent, however, you can prevent damage from even the most persistent deer. The fencing gives you a little more flexibility with your application schedule, and helps protect plants during very wet and rainy weeks.

Disadvantages of a Fishing Line Deer Fence

  1. Deer run right through them. The internet is full of stories about deer running straight through their fishing line fences, ripping up fence posts and damaging gardens. The fishing line is just as hard to see for deer as it is for people, and they don’t even notice it when they run through a yard. There are a few tips out there to help avoid this, including using a blue or purple fishing line that is easier for deer to see, and placing shrubs or heavy lawn décor around your fishing line fence to encourage deer to run around the area instead of through it.
  2. Requires constant repairs. Heavier weighted fishing line is pretty tough, but constant exposer to weather and clumsy deer results in broken lines. Depending on how you set up your fishing line deer fence repairs can start becoming quite time consuming. One tip to minimize repair time is to tie off each section of your fence individually, instead of using one long strand which simply wraps around each post before continuing. This way, if a deer breaks through one section you don’t need to re-wrap the entire fence.
  3. Stops working over time. Like many homemade deer repellent methods, fishing line fences usually stop working after a short period of time. As soon as a local deer population figures out what is happening with the fishing line fence, they are quick to jump over, or run through it to get to your tasty garden. Some gardeners lengthen the effective time by mixing up the construction of their fence every couple months. For example, putting a top and bottom rail on the fence and stringing up vertical lines instead of horizontal lines.

Does deer repellent work on rabbits?

Many people have success using deer repellent to deter rabbits, and if you are dealing with both pests and can only choose one repellent, it might offer you some protection. If you want the strongest protection against rabbits, however, you should be using a product that was specifically formulated to repel rabbits. We created I Must Garden Rabbit Repellent because we knew there were specific botanical oils we could add to an egg-based repellent that would target rabbits and give gardeners consistently better results than the “10 pests in 1 spray” products. After careful lab and field testing we came up with the perfect combination of natural ingredients and botanical oils from plants rabbits naturally avoid – and it has been one of our most popular products ever since. Read through our Tips and FAQ page on Rabbits for additional information on repelling rabbits.

As an alternative, we developed I Must Garden Animal Repellent, a granular product, that workes on deer and rabbits (and/or groundhogs). Using a proprietary blend of natural ingredients and botanical oils in a granular form, we developed a long-lasting repellent that deters herbivories (plant eating animals). The Granular Animal Repellent works great for rapidly growing plants, low growth, and situations where you are fighting off multiple hungry pests. Many gardeners combine the granular Animal Repellent with our Deer Repellent for the ultimate protection against plant eating animals.

If you have questions about how to deter deer, rabbits, groundhogs, or any combination of those animals, contact one of our professionals today.

I Must Garden Office: 877-446-2929 or send us an email

How high can deer jump?

Deer can jump 6-10 ft. on average, and are capable of jumping upwards of 15 ft. This incredible jumping skill means a fence must be carefully crafted to be an effective deer deterrent. A 6 ft. fence is sometimes enough to keep deer presence at a minimum, but food scarcity or other environmental pressures will push them to jump over with ease. Building an 8-10 ft. fence is unrealistic for most people as it is an expensive project and can be an eye-sore to you and your neighbors. Instead of a tall, sturdy fence, many people opt for thinner fencing that is harder to see for people and deer. Deer have bad depth perception, and not being able to see the top of a fence, or accurately judge the height, is a strong deterrent against having them jump over. Another fencing strategy, if you have the space, is to build two fences with a 5 ft. section in between. While deer can easily jump over a fence, having the two back to back is usually enough horizontal distance to keep them from trying the jump.

If an adequate fencing project isn’t in the budget, consider a using I Must Garden Deer Repellent. Simply spray the plants for guaranteed protection against deer damage – it doesn’t get easier than that.

What is the best homemade deer repellent?

Over the years we have learned about dozens of homemade, do-it-yourself methods of repelling deer. From complicated concoctions, to playing loud rap music, there aren’t too many ideas that would surprise us. Most of these homemade methods are fairly inconsistent in their results. We have not found 1 homemade repellent that works as well as our I Must Garden Deer Repellent. There are, however, some homemade deer repellents that work better than others. We put together a list of the most effective homemade repellents based on our experience, research, and the testimony of our customers.

5 Best Homemade Deer Repellents

TIP: Before using a homemade spray on plants, be sure to test the spray on a small area. If you do not dilute botanical oils or ingredients like vinegar enough they can damage foliage.

  1. Eggs and Hot Pepper/Hot Sauce. Mixing eggs and hot pepper (or hot sauce) is an age-old method of repelling deer. It made our list because eggs have proven to be an effective deer deterrent, which is why we use them in the I Must Garden Deer Repellent. Hot pepper can be effective against deer, but it requires the deer to nibble on a plant before the pepper will irritate the deer. This delayed effect means you may see some protection, but you will also experience damage from grazing.
  2. Botanical Oils and Garlic. Using strongly scented botanical oils or garlic is another approach to deer repellent that has been used for generations. Once again, this approach made our list in part because we use both botanical oils and garlic in the I Must Garden Deer Repellent, and can say with certainty that these ingredients help repel deer. Finding the right blend of scents can be tricky, and it could take a bit of experimenting to find the right mix for your garden. We suggest using mint oils, cinnamon oil, clove oil, or any of the fragrant herb oils like lemongrass or rosemary. The hardest part about using garlic is getting it to a consistency that can then be applied to plants. At I Must Garden we use a super strong liquid made from pressing hundreds of cloves of garlic per batch. Another advantage of using I Must Garden Repellent instead of making your own? We found a way to make all those oils and garlic smell pleasant while still repelling deer!
  3. Physical barriers, noise, and shiny objects. Investing in a quality deer fence is a sure way to cut down on deer damage. An effective deer fence can be a costly investment, however, so people have turned towards many other physical lines of defense over the years. A fishing line fence is a popular choice and we outline the advantages and disadvantages of this approach in another post “Using Fishing Line to Repel Deer.” Other gardeners hang reflective objects, like old CD’s, to startle deer away. We even had one customer who rigged up a motion activated radio that played load music whenever the deer came near! There are hundreds of different tricks people have used to scare deer, but almost all of them have a short period where they are effective. Eventually deer become used to the odd sights and sounds and happily munch away despite the distractions. We suggest combining some of these approaches with regular applications of I Must Garden Deer Repellent for strong, long-lasting protection.
  4. Soap. Using soap to repel deer is so popular we created an entire section to discuss it “Does Soap Repel Deer?” In summary, hanging lots of soap (and we mean lots!) around your garden can help deter deer for a short period of time. Eventually deer will become used to the strange scent and continue to venture into your yard to feed. If you have very light deer pressure, however, it is worth trying out this cost-effective homemade deer repellent!
  5. Hair and bodily fluids. This option can get a bit gross, but humans have been using their own hair and urine to deter garden pests for centuries. The theory behind this approach is that deer will associate the smell of human hair/urine as a sign of a nearby predator and thus avoid treated areas. In reality, urine-based repellents do not perform as well as other repellents, and this homemade approach is no different. Deer may be a bit more cautious around areas treated with your hair/urine, but they won’t stay away for long if you are only using this approach.

Do you have a homemade deer repellent method that works for you? We would love to hear about it! Give us a call, or write us an email and maybe we will feature your recipe on our next blog post!

I Must Garden Office: 877-446-2929 or send us an email

How do I stop deer from pooping in my lawn?

Stopping deer from pooping in your lawn means keeping deer out of your lawn entirely. There are only three methods we have found that keep deer out of your lawn:

  1. Build a 6-8 ft. tall fence. A tall fence is one of the best ways to keep deer out of your lawn. The minimum height of a deer fence is 6 feet, though deer have been known to clear heights of 8-12 feet. Look at our section on “How High Can Deer Jump” for more information about adequate deer fencing.
  2. Keep a dog or cat in your backyard. Deer and dogs don’t mix. If you are thinking about a pet, consider that letting a dog roam in your yard is an excellent way of deterring deer.
  3. Invest in quality motion activated sprinklers. There are a few high-quality motion activated sprinklers available on the market that have consistently positive reviews. They can be costly, especially if you need multiple to cover large areas, but they are generally cheaper than a fence. Another limitation of sprinklers is the weather – most sprinklers can’t operate in temperatures below freezing.
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