How To Keep Animals Out Of Your Garden

deer in gardendeer in garden

Do you have pesky visitors in your garden? Don't worry! Human and beast can coexist peacefully, even if you have a delicious beautiful garden - we promise! These 7 helpful tips, including recommendations for deer resistant plants, will help you keep damage to a minimum.

windmill and garden in front of homewindmill and garden in front of home
Customer Photo by Vonne S.

1. Plan Ahead

  • Get in the garden before the critters do! Placing animal deterrents early in the season will help to keep them out before they make your garden a home. Once they move in, it’s a lot harder to get them out.

2. Scare Them Away

  • Noise makers like wind chimes, or disposable pie plates and whirligigs, can be used to scare off unwanted visitors. 
  • Motion detectors that set alarms or lights work well with night foragers. 
  • Motion activated sprinklers give intruders a cold, unwanted shower, which will change their behavioral pattern if they have become a habitual visitor. 
  • Fool birds and rodents with rubber snakes, plastic owls and other faux predators.
cat in echinaceascat in echinaceas
Customer photo by Chris N.

3. Fence It In

  • To keep out animals, consider fencing in your gardens! 
  • Short fences keep out gophers and most rodents. 
  • Burrowing critters like voles and woodchucks are tougher to keep out, so dig a trench to extend fencing underground. 
  • Tall fencing (at least 5 feet) is the most effective deer proofing deterrent. If cost or appeal is a concern,try fencing a smaller area, as deer don't like tight spaces and will move to other feeding areas

4. The Smell of Success

  • A lot of critters are turned off by strong scents. The best way to apply scents is to soak pieces of cloth and place on the edge of your garden. It’s best to apply before a rainstorm and re-apply after wet weather.
  • Cayenne pepper and hot suace keep out rabbits, gophers, chipmunks, raccoons, and woodchucks.
  • Peppermint Oil will keep away squirrels and mice.
  • Lemon peels, orange peels, or coffee grounds will keep away cats.
  • Citronella, Eucalyptus, and Lavender will keep away rodents - and pests too!
  • Another fantastic way to incporporate these strong scents into your garden is to plant strongly scented herbs and perennials around your garden borders! Herbs like Peppermint, Lavender, Thyme, and Oregano smell delicious to gardeners, but will deter animals. 
customer garden with sculpturescustomer garden with sculptures
Customer photo by Esther W.

5. Have A Heart

  • When nothing works to deter rabbits, gophers, and woodchucks, you may choose to use a trap to capture them. It’s a great way to remove an animal without hurting them. 
  • Be sure to check with your local game warden or animal control center for protocol on where to release critters once you've trapped them!

6. Deer Resistant Plants To The Rescue!

  • Naturally, an important step is to plant deer resistant plants! There are many plants that deer and critters will stay away from naturally. As we mentioned above, many plants that are very fragrant in flowers or foliage are natually unappetizing to critters. We offer a wide selection of deer resistant plants, so you can let your creativity come to life in your critter-resistant garden design!
  • Some perennial favorites like echinaceafernslavender, peonies, and sage, are great examples of plants that are beautiful in the garden, but don't attract deer!
  • Shop All Deer Resistant Perennial Plants
  1. Hameln Fountain Grass, Pennisetum alopecuroides

    'Hameln' Fountain Grass is a smaller variety with three distinctive seasons of stunning displays in full sun or part shade gardens. First, fine-textured green grass blades up to 3 fe...

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    Hameln Fountain Grass Hameln Dwarf Fountain Grass Pennisetum alopecuroides Hameln
    As low as $12.65 Sale $9.49
    Per Plant - 3.5" Pot
    'Hameln' Fountain Grass is a smaller variety with three distinctive seasons of stunning displays in full sun or part shade gardens. First, fine-textured green grass blades up to 3 feet tall are tipped with soft, wheat-shaped seed heads. Foliage turns rust gold in autumn, and finally, pale blonde in winter. 'Hameln' is a favorite for birds and resists hungry deer. A great match for late-season perennials and colorful shrubs in the mixed border, as well as cut or dried flower arrangements. (Pennisetum alopecuroides)
  2. Bluebeard Longwood Blue, Caryopteris

    Bluebeard, sometimes called “Blue Mist Shrub” for its clouds of blue flowers borne along upright stems, is a late summer showstopper. Butterflies love drinking from the blooms. ...

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    Longwood Blue Bluebeard Bluebeard Longwood Blue, Blue Mist Spirea Caryopteris x clandonensis Longwood Blue
    $16.65 Sale $12.49
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    Bluebeard, sometimes called “Blue Mist Shrub” for its clouds of blue flowers borne along upright stems, is a late summer showstopper. Butterflies love drinking from the blooms. ‘Longwood Blue’ is a taller selection that flowers later than other types, giving you color deep into the season. Striking when mass-planted. (Caryopteris x clandonensis)
  3. Oh Deer Plant Collection

    Our Oh Deer Plant Collection resists deer damage with a fragrant collection of 4 plants they will find unpalatable. While keeping the deer at bay you will enjoy a colorful landscape ...

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    Oh Deer Plant Collection Oh Deer Plant Collection
    $46.65 Sale $34.99
    Per Collection of 4
    Our Oh Deer Plant Collection resists deer damage with a fragrant collection of 4 plants they will find unpalatable. While keeping the deer at bay you will enjoy a colorful landscape of soothing pink and purple hues without having to resort to repellants. This collection features easy to grow Bluebeard and Sensational! Lavender paired with beloved Peony and hardy Sedum.
  4. Blue Spruce Sedum, Sedum reflexum Blue Spruce

    This Sedum gets its name from small, blue leaves that resemble the needles of a blue Spruce. Cheerful yellow flowers emerge in the early summer. (Sedum reflexum)...

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    Blue Spruce Sedum Blue Spruce Stonecrop Sedum reflexum Blue Spruce
    As low as $9.32 Sale $6.99
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    This Sedum gets its name from small, blue leaves that resemble the needles of a blue Spruce. Cheerful yellow flowers emerge in the early summer. (Sedum reflexum)
  5. Red and Pink and White Peony Cotton Candy Mix, Paeonia lactiflora, Peony

    Cotton Candy Peony Mix is the perfect choice for peony lovers that just can’t decide! This selection of classic colors includes one each of: 'Sarah Bernhardt' (pink), 'Karl Rosen...

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    Cotton Candy Peony Mix Cotton Candy Double Peony Mix Paeonia lactiflora Cotton Candy Mix
    As low as $29.99 Sale $22.49
    Per Bag of 3
    Cotton Candy Peony Mix is the perfect choice for peony lovers that just can’t decide! This selection of classic colors includes one each of: 'Sarah Bernhardt' (pink), 'Karl Rosenfield' (red), and 'Shirley Temple' (white). Each tried and true variety has impressive 6-8” wide flowers, perfect for summer arrangements and wedding bouquets. Peonies are long-lived plants that hold their foliage beautifully after their bloom season has passed. (Paeonia lactiflora)
  6. Astilbe Mix, Astilbe, False Spirea

    Add bold, bright color to a shady spot in your garden with our Astilbe Mix. 'Deutschland' Astilbe's pure white plumes are lovely in the moonlight, 'Montgomery' Astilbe has feathery, ...

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    Astilbe Mix False Spirea Mix Astilbe Mix
    $17.32 Sale $13.99
    Per Bag of 5
    Add bold, bright color to a shady spot in your garden with our Astilbe Mix. 'Deutschland' Astilbe's pure white plumes are lovely in the moonlight, 'Montgomery' Astilbe has feathery, magenta-crimson blooms and 'Rheinland' Astilbe adds graceful pink plumes to illuminate the shade garden. Also known as False Spirea, our Astilbe Mixture is deer resistant and amazingly easy to grow. Make sure to plant extra, as these blooms make for gorgeous summer bouquets and last all year long if dried. Astilbe makes a bold statement on their own or paired with other shade-loving perennials, such as Hostas and Columbines.
  7. Orange Poppy, Poppy Pinnacle

    'Pinnacle' Oriental Poppy is a show-stopping bi-color with striking orange and white blooms that surround a showy center eye. Fresh green foliage and attractive, nodding seed pods ad...

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    Pinnacle Oriental Poppy Oriental Poppy Pinnacle Papaver orientale Pinnacle
    $8.65 Sale $6.49
    Per Bag of 1
    'Pinnacle' Oriental Poppy is a show-stopping bi-color with striking orange and white blooms that surround a showy center eye. Fresh green foliage and attractive, nodding seed pods add even more interest to the overall look. Plants are deer resistant. (Papaver orientale)
  8. Forsythia Magical® Gold

    Magical® Gold Forsythia comes to life with larger blooms up to 1" wide in early spring. This forsythia produces golden-yellow flowers on both new and old wood and has strong stems ...

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    Magical® Gold Forsythia Magical® Gold Forsythia Forsythia x intermedia 'Kolgold' Magical® Gold
    $25.32 Sale $19.75
    Per Plant - 3.5" Pot
    Magical® Gold Forsythia comes to life with larger blooms up to 1" wide in early spring. This forsythia produces golden-yellow flowers on both new and old wood and has strong stems that bloom from top to bottom! Pruning just became easier, because even if you cut it back later in the season the new wood will still produce flowers. Make sure to cut a few stems so you can enjoy the coming of spring both outdoors and in arrangements for your home. (Forsythia x intermedia)

7. For Best Results, Combine Forces!

The tricky part about deterring animals is that there is no perfect fix. Your results will vary depending on where you live, seasonal conditions, and the food supply for wildlife in your area.  Make sure to alternate techniques, so animals don’t become accustomed to your deterrants. Be willing to experiment and try new techniques when others don’t work!

For more information on repelling animals in your gardens, read 8 Ways to Critter-Proof Your Fall Bulb Plantings

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