Outdoor PestsWildlife

How To Keep Deer and Squirrels Out of the Garden

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Maintaining a lush and thriving garden can be a challenging task, especially when you have to deal with unwanted visitors like deer and squirrels. These creatures, while cute, can wreak havoc on your plants, leaving you with a damaged garden. This comprehensive guide will provide practical strategies on how to keep deer and squirrels out of your garden.


To keep deer and squirrels out of your garden, use a combination of strategies including planting deer-resistant and squirrel-repellent plants, installing physical barriers such as fences and deterrent systems, using natural and homemade repellents, and designing your garden layout to deter these animals. Regular garden maintenance to remove food sources that attract these creatures can also be beneficial.

Understanding Deer and Squirrel Behavior

Before we delve into the solutions, it’s crucial to understand the behaviors and habits of these animals. Deer are creatures of habit and often return to the same area, especially if they’ve found a reliable food source. They’re known to feed on gardens, landscape plants, trees, and even agricultural crops, and their damage often appears rough or torn.

Squirrels, on the other hand, are notorious for digging up plants and eating their leaves, shoots, and flowers. They’re attracted to gardens with plenty of fallen nuts, acorns, and berries.

Deer-Resistant and Squirrel-Repellent Plants

One of the most effective strategies for deterring deer and squirrels from your garden is to plant species that these animals dislike or avoid. Deer-resistant plants include panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata), boxwood (Buxus sempervirens), Lenten or Christmas Rose (Helleborus sp.), and junipers. For squirrel-repellent plants, consider hyacinth, Galanthus, lily-of-the-valley, geraniums, and daffodils.

Physical Barriers and Deterrent Systems

Physical barriers and deterrent systems can be highly effective in keeping these animals out of your garden. For deer, an 8-foot-tall fence is recommended. You can also use black mesh deer netting or individual plant enclosures. For squirrels, a simple fence may not suffice, so try using metal mesh or welded stainless steel mesh.

Motion-activated sprinklers and ultrasonic devices can also be useful for scaring off both deer and squirrels. Additionally, hanging reflective objects like aluminum plates or metal CDs can create a deterrent light that deters deer.

Natural and Homemade Repellents

Natural and homemade repellents are a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly way to deter deer and squirrels from your garden. For deer, try an egg-based repellent, a vinegar-based repellent, or a putrid-smell repellent made from eggs, milk or yogurt, garlic, and cayenne pepper.

For squirrels, a hot sauce repellent or a peppermint essential oil spray can be effective. Sprinkling crushed red pepper flakes or a light dusting of cayenne pepper near your plants can also help keep squirrels at bay.

Garden Design and Layout

The design and layout of your garden can significantly impact its attractiveness to deer and squirrels. Surround your garden with plants that deer and squirrels dislike, such as mint, marigolds, nasturtiums, nepeta (catmint), and lavender. Also, maintain a clean garden by removing fallen nuts, acorns, and berries that may attract squirrels.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Avoid common mistakes like inadequate fencing, attracting squirrels with bird feeders, planting susceptible plants, not using repellents, and not employing scare tactics.


Keeping deer and squirrels out of your garden may require a combination of strategies, from choosing the right plants to installing physical barriers and using repellents. With patience and consistent efforts, you can enjoy a thriving garden free from these unwanted visitors. Happy gardening!

Frequently Asked Questions

What other plants can repel deer and squirrels?

Other deer-resistant plants include Russian sage, salvia, lavender, and spirea. For squirrels, plants like alliums, fritillaries, and euphorbias can be effective repellents.

Can I use commercial repellents for deer and squirrels?

Yes, commercial repellents are available and can be effective. However, they often need to be reapplied after rain and as new plant growth occurs. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use.

Are there any other animals that can cause damage to my garden?

Yes, other animals like rabbits, voles, groundhogs, and birds can also cause damage to your garden. Each of these animals requires a different strategy for deterrence.

How often should I apply natural and homemade repellents?

Natural and homemade repellents should be applied every few weeks or after heavy rain. It’s important to maintain a regular schedule of application to ensure effectiveness.

Will these strategies harm deer or squirrels?

No, these strategies are designed to deter deer and squirrels, not harm them. They work by making your garden less appealing to these animals, encouraging them to go elsewhere for food.

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