Three best deer repellents

Bob Beacham

Ready-to-use spray bottles are convenient, but if you have a large yard, concentrates are usually more economical.

Deer might look delightful in the forest, but they're a nightmare in your garden. Young and tender plants are an invitation to dine, and your local deer will be happy to oblige time and time again.

There are numerous solutions available, but which one is best for your yard? We've put together the following deer repellent buying guide to give you the all the information you need to make your choice. We've also included a few examples of the top products in each category so you can compare prices.

Considerations when choosing deer repellents

There are two ways you can deter deer -- chemical products or physical devices -- and there are several approaches in each category.

Chemical deterrents

Although some chemicals have binding agents so they stay on plants longer, all are eventually affected by rain and heat, so they need to be reapplied. How often this needs to happen has a big impact on price, so check the recommended reapplication periods, and take them with a pinch of salt. You're invariably going to be doing it more frequently than suggested!

Deer repellent sprays: These common repellents come as either a concentrate you mix yourself or a ready-to-use liquid. They often come with a spray nozzle attached to the container for convenience, so they're easy to apply to the plants you wish to protect. Some have an odor that mimics predator scat or dried blood, which is equally repulsive to humans. Deer also find the taste of these liquids unpleasant. Other sprays use spicy or minty aromas that deer find equally distasteful but don't bother people.

Deer repellent granules: These are simply sprinkled over the area you want to protect. Garlic is a common ingredient. Sachets are a similar idea, designed to be hung directly on the plants in danger.

Physical deterrents

Netting: Putting nets over individual plants or groups of plants can work well so long as the netting is tough enough that the deer can't nibble through it. It's fine for fruit and vegetables but not very appealing in flower beds.

Electric posts: These are a bit controversial. They use a chemical attractant to draw the deer in, then give them a mild electric shock. Manufacturers claim there's no lasting harm and that it's a similar idea to agricultural fencing. Critics don't like the fact that deer are tempted and then punished.

Water jets: These use sensors to detect the presence of birds and animals, then fire a strong spray in their direction. Most pests don't like getting soaked, so it can be very effective. However, range is limited, and each unit requires a permanent water supply. In addition, the jets can't be used near streets or other public or traffic areas.

LED lights: These attempt to mimic the eyes of predators and so scare the deer away. Usually solar powered, these lights are a convenient "set it and forget it" solution. However, they're only really effective in low-light conditions, such as dawn, dusk, and nighttime.

Deer repellent prices: Chemical deer repellents range from $15 to $50. Many are natural and/or organic and safe for all plants, but it's a good idea to double-check just to be sure. Physical deer deterrents range in price from about $25 to $75, and you might need more than one for adequate coverage. Deer can get acclimated to anything that stays in one place for a while, so it's a good idea to move these around periodically.


Q. When is the best time of year to use chemical deer repellents?

A. Your plants are at their most attractive to deer when they're young and succulent, so the most serious problems occur at the start of the growing season. However, a hungry deer is a determined creature. You need to be vigilant all year. Chemical deterrents have limited life and must be reapplied periodically.

Q. Can't I just put up a fence to keep deer out?

A. You can, but bear in mind that some deer can jump as high as eight feet, so that could be a lot of fence you need to erect. It has to be very secure, too. Deer will put considerable effort into getting under or breaking through a barrier.

Deer repellents we recommend

Best of the best: Deer Out Deer Repellent Concentrate

Our take: Proven effectiveness backed by a 100% money-back guarantee.

What we like: Long lasting and nonhazardous, so safe for edible plants. Repulsive to deer but pleasantly minty to humans!

What we dislike: Not cheap. Needs to be sprayed more often than suggested.

Best bang for your buck: Predator Guard Solar Light Deterrent 

Our take: Stand-alone device capable of deterring a variety of invaders.

What we like: Automatic charging and activation. Silent and noninvasive. No maintenance required. Three-year warranty. Good value when you consider it's a one-time purchase.

What we dislike: Less effective where animals are acclimated to street/garden lighting.

Choice 3: Hoont Cobra Water Jet Blaster 

Our take: Chemical-free solution gives unwelcome visitors a soaking.

What we like: Environmentally friendly and humane. Motion activated, so only works when triggered. Equally effective against deer, squirrels, cats, pigeons.

What we dislike: Requires permanent hose connection. Only "sees" 120°.

Bob Beacham is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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