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7 Scents That Keep Deer Out of Your Yard, Experts Say

Try these easy remedies to safeguard your garden this deer season.

As the seasons change, so does the availability of food for animals, deer especially, which means you're more likely to find them in residential areas. Deer love feasting on plants and can find food quite easily since they are adaptable and flexible animals, according to Ward Dilmore, founder and head landscape designer at Petrus Landscaping. Luckily, certain plants repel deer, and, as it turns out, they will also steer clear of some scents. If you're worried about your lawn and garden this deer season, keep reading to hear more from Dilmore and other experts about the scents that will keep deer away from your yard.

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7 Scents That Repel Deer

1. Rosemary

Rosemary Essential Oil
Madeleine Steinbach / Shutterstock

Not only does rosemary make a great addition to your kitchen, but its strong scent is also unappealing to deer. According to Better Homes and Gardens, you can easily make a DIY rosemary repellent. All you need to do is mix vinegar, peppermint essential oil, and rosemary essential oil in a spray bottle and spray the plants you want to protect.

If you choose to plant rosemary, it matures with pretty purple blooms that will make your garden look great. Rosemary also plants well between other things that deer like, so incorporating it in various spots can minimize nibbling.

Dilmore says it's worth noting that different deer populations may react differently to these scents, and individual deer may have varying preferences.

RELATED: 5 Scents That Attract Raccoons to Your Yard, Experts Say.

2. Irish Spring soap

A stack of Irish Spring soap on display at a supermarket.
MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

A surprising scent that deer don't like is bar soap. Jeremiah Woodward, service manager at Fox Pest Control, recommends using Irish Spring soap specifically because the fragrance is too strong for deer's liking. "The strong scent of the soap can confuse and deter them from approaching," agrees Dilmore.

Both Woodward and Dilmore advise hanging the soap around your yard, as other animals may mistake it for food if left on the ground.

RELATED: 9 Scents That Repel Snakes, According to Experts.

3. Garlic

Garlic cloves on a wooden board.

Planting garlic in your yard is another way to repel deer with scent. In a YouTube video, professional horticulturist Brie Arthur shares that garlic is easy to grow and will deter not only deer but also rabbits and groundhogs.

"You'll need to prune your plants often to ensure the garlic does what it's supposed to—emitting a solid odor to chase away any deer," explains Borst Landscape and Design. "Pruning the plant will help to release its natural scent.

Placing garlic cloves or bulbs around specific areas can also help to repel deer. Just be sure to rotate them out as the smell won't be as pungent after some time. And remember that garlic is toxic to dogs and cats.

RELATED: 5 Plants That Keep Mice Out of Your Yard, According to Experts.

4. Lavender

Lavender Bush
nieriss / Shutterstock

The scent of lavender is known for its relaxing properties, but it's also a popular deterrent for many rodents, including mosquitoes, snakes, and mice. Gene Caballero, a landscaper and co-founder of GreenPal, says its strong fragrance also acts as a natural repellent for deer.

To ensure the best efficacy of a lavender plant, Dilmore recommends regularly pruning it, or trimming away all the dead parts to help the plant grow: "Doing this can release their scents and make them more potent as repellents."

RELATED: 5 Things in Your Yard That Are Attracting Deer.

5. Thyme

Thyme plant in a pot.
wmaster890 / iStock

Thyme falls into the aromatic herb category with lavender and rosemary. It's low maintenance and doesn't require a lot of water or soil to thrive. Plus, deer can't stand the smell. "Deer find these fragrances unappealing and often avoid areas where these plants are abundant," says Dilmore.

But remember that deer can adapt quickly and might get accustomed to these scents over time, which is why it's important to switch out your herbs seasonally.

RELATED: Residential Bear Attacks Are on the Rise: What You Need to Know.

6. Predator urine

spraying plants

No one wants to be disturbed when they're eating. The same goes for deer, so if they think a predator is nearby, they aren't going to stick around. Therefore, applying predator urine around your yard is a great way to keep your yard deer-free.

"This mimics the presence of predators and can deter deer," explains Woodward. You can buy coyote or wolf urine from gardening stores and easily spread it around the area you want deer to stay away from. However, Woodward notes that these sprays don't last long, so you'll have to reapply often.

RELATED: 5 Plants That Keep Geese Out of Your Yard, According to Experts.

7. Repellents

Bottle of Pesticide Spray
Virrage Images / Shutterstock

Store-bought or natural repellents are also an effective approach to minimize deer sightings. Woodward notes that you can find these in the form of sprays, granules, or motion-activated devices, but you can also make them at home with ingredients from your pantry

"These sprays are usually made from natural ingredients like garlic, hot pepper, or rotten eggs, which create unpleasant odors for deer," says Dilmore. He suggests adding them to vulnerable plants or areas after rainfall to maintain their effectiveness.

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Courtney Shapiro
Courtney Shapiro is an Associate Editor at Best Life. Before joining the Best Life team, she had editorial internships with BizBash and Anton Media Group. Read more
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