'soap' method for deer

Lorna1641(z5 Mich)September 26, 2003

A friend told me to use pieces of Irish Spring soap tied to short stakes to keep deer away from plants. Apparently they don't like the strong smell. Does anyone know if this works? I have a large area and don't want to continually spray the gardens.

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ohiogdnr(5b OH)

Hi Lorna!
I heard about that control years ago from nursery growers in Tennessee. They had fairly good success with it. We've tried it here in a Southern Ohio nursery with limited success. I think like most wildlife they eventually get use to it and forage ahead. Most deer are so starved for food these days because their grazing range is getting so limited and the populations are so high. They just ignore our attempts to deter them...they are so hungry! Unfortunatly, population control is going to be the only answer, and the state legislatures are going to have to deal with it. Are many homeowners in your area troubled with deer? Are there a lot of traffic accidents because of them? How can we control animals of this size in our yards? It's a problem that a lot of states are facing right now.

There are a lot of repellents on the market, but you have to apply them often and alternate them occasionally. Check with your local garden centers. They should also be able to supply you with a list of deer-resistant plants also.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2003 at 9:00PM
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Lorna1641(z5 Mich)

Yes, we are troubled by alot of deer. I'm looking at 2 right now by the apple tree! I'm lucky to have alot of garden space they don't bother, but sometimes I have leftover plants from dividing or extra seeds and I want more, more, more beds! :-) I guess I'm just looking for a miracle cure -besides erecting a fence- that would keep them away. Maybe a combination of spray and soap, it can't hurt. Thanks for your response!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2003 at 6:53AM
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soap works to deter deer some of the time for me.
if i get it out there in time, they usually don't start to nibble(normally they browse the shrubs on my property in late fall to early winter). i use a strongly scented deodorant soap and cut small pieces, then wedge the pieces between the limbs all around the perimeter near the middle of the shrub. the pieces will "melt" into the joints and remain there until rain washes them away.
i also hear from many folks that the egg spray is an even better deterrent(egg plus cayenne pepper or just egg and water sprayed on regularly).

    Bookmark   October 2, 2003 at 3:59PM
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: ) the closest I have come to deer control was one of those motion sensor/lawn sprinkler combos that a client of mine finally got to keep the deer out of his hosta bed (it is right under his bedroom window, and while he couldn't care less about the hostas, the deer chewing kept him awake)

deer don't like getting wet, evidently.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2003 at 11:21AM
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ohiogdnr(5b OH)

I'm back again! I spoke with a gentleman in our area who has a herd of 11 deer visiting his yard on a regular basis!
(This is in the Dayton suburbs!). A spray he uses with good success is:

1 gallon jug filled over half with water
6 eggs
6-7 drops liquid soap
4-6 tbls. hot sauce

Beat the eggs first. Add them to the water and soap. Shake to mix. Add hot sauce last as it has a tendancy to "cook" the eggs. Apply with a sprayer. If the hot sauce has clumped the eggs you may have to strain it a bit.

He is swearing by this. Mostly he plants "deer-resistant" plants, but needs the spray for his tomatoes and the few flowers he wants.

Hope it works for you!

    Bookmark   October 11, 2003 at 8:57PM
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Michaeline(3A Upper MI)

I tried the "liquid fence" this year. The first time I put it on, I had a sinus infection and couldn't smell it. H came out to the greenhouse the next day and reamed me out for having something DIE in there. A week later I sprayed it again, had clear passages and it was revolting. H smelled it and said to toss it....he'd rather have the deer eating stuff than smell like living in a pigsty. It did smell like a hog farm. So, I'm going to try your soap method next year. I'm tired of my hostas getting nibbled to the ground!!! I used to have beautiful ones that grew really big. The deer have overrun us. You have to beep to get them out of the driveway when you come in after its dark!! The kids are afraid to go outside in the dark to fee the dog for fear they will get run over by the deer!!

    Bookmark   October 12, 2003 at 8:55AM
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honey_mi(Z5 MI)

Micheline, I use LF once a month or month and a half. After the initial spraying (and it is repugnant so do it just before you come in the house at nite), the smell fades by next day. You can still detect it next day if it's damp out (and especially if my neighbor sprays her garden, too), but we found it works best. At first they'll still munch to try all the plants out, but one taste and they'll leave everything alone and don't return. I found the munching got less and less until it isn't a problem now. They used to mow my rhodos and hostas to the ground. It's also good for rabbits and it seems to be deterring the groundhogs who eat my lillies, rubeckia, mums, shastas, etc. (yea!!!). I know it's awful, but it's the only thing that has worked consistantly for us and our friends. Good luck.


    Bookmark   October 14, 2003 at 7:58PM
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aspen178(z6 NJ)

I've posted at a couple of other locations singing the praises of "Deer Out"(deerout.com). It doesn't stink(smells like mint, and deer hate mint), and it's terrific stuff. It's easier than mixing a concoction yourself, and it works. After an initial first "soaking"--complete coverage the first time, I re-apply every couple of weeks on new growth, and through the winter. I have an acre of property, and I spray only what they eat, and it doesn't take me long. It's like going for a walk around my property and seeing how everything's growing--I don't stop moving; I walk and spritz. Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 12, 2003 at 7:16AM
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Soap doesn't work for us here in Connecticut, at least not at my house. I find the only thing that works is hiring the local nursury to spray repellent. It does not smell at all but you can see a white film on the shrubs and it is expensive ($225 per year). I don't know what it is called.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2003 at 1:54PM
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garden_guy_PA(phila. pa)

Last summer I tried a product called Deer Off. It has eggs, hot pepper, and garlic in it. I had good sucess with the product. The deer will give a taste with the first application but didn't return for a second helping. Its long lasting too. The smell is not overpowering so the whole yard wont't smell.I'll try it again this year but with deer success can be a fleeting endeavour

    Bookmark   February 13, 2004 at 3:33PM
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bolecke(5 OH)

I used "Deer Off" with little success in the outer eastern suburbs of Cincinnati..they must have a taste for hot pepper and rotten eggs. The product we ended up using was called "This One Works". It is latex based so it leaves a white residue similar to the shade of powdery mildew. The white fades after 2 or 3 days. Who knows what kinds of long term mutations it will cause to plants. And, at $80 per gallon I'd only reccommend it if money is no object. It kept those deer away from the taxus, oakleaf hydranga, day-lilies, impatiens and hosta treats...but at an unsightly and expensive cost.

Deer resistant plants are the way to go. I have accepted the fact that the deer have beaten me...work with nature because she'll always win...one way or another.

You will have to carry the fight on without me...good luck ;)

    Bookmark   February 20, 2004 at 1:29PM
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Up here in the Cleveland area we are using a product called green screen. they are basically little cloth sacks of meat meal and hot pepper. you hang them on or near the plants that you want protected and the deer stay away. This product lasts about 4-6 month and after it's lost its effectiveness you can toss it into the compost heap.

In my neighborhood it's not uncommon to see a dozen or more deer at a time, and I live a mile south of a major shopping mall. With this product I was able to grow watermelons and hostas with no damage this past season!

I swear by it and it only costs around $16 for 24 sacks.

Here is a link that might be useful: green screen deer repellent

    Bookmark   February 21, 2004 at 12:11PM
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ldygardenermd(Z7 MD)

I live on five acres of woods most everything around me is woods as well very little development but alas my yard is the buffet for a herd on a daily basis! So here are my suggestions they are things that I have tried that have worked!

Fishing line tied to stakes around the perimeter of your beds. Sounds nuts but it works, now the best results were when I used four foot high stakes and spaced the fishing line out between the two. I had started with just one level but it didn't take long for them to jump into the beds but two levels seem to be too much effort for them! Coyote pee, ok I know sounds really gross but in a small plastic bottle with a cotton ball soaked in the stuff the deer stayed clear of the plants in that area and it lasted for a long time! Individual plant clips that you pop open and clip right to the plant. They smell like garlic and hot pepper they worked pretty good, I mean I actually got to see my daylilies bloom! From a place called Deer Busters.com I got some stinky sachets that were supposed to last a very long time. I can't say for sure how they did because I believe that the ideal condtions would be more dry weather then rain. Last year in the late summer and fall it rained a lot and they were soaked and never really dried out. So I will have to try them again this year to see if they work or not. Systemic tablets that you plant with the plants. Supposedly the plant takes the tablet into its root system and it makes the plant taste bad. Now these are supposed to work up to three years. I planted plants with them last year so this spring I will know if they work or not! Processed sewage ok this sounds awful I know but it is actually a fertilizer. My neighbor has hosta beds great big huge beautiful hosta beds and she just sprinkles this stuff around the edge of the beds and the deer never go near her hostas! I am going this route this spring to see if it will work here as well.

I have come to accept that I have deer and that when they are hungry they are going to eat my plants. It is what it is. I have had them eat stuff that I was told was deer proof, there is no such thing! If a deer is hungry it will eat it. Also all these things work depending on two things, how heavy the population is in your area and how often you rotate what you are doing to deter them. If you do the same thing all the time, use the same things to repel them they will become used to it and by pass it. If you however change the pattern or move stuff around, use differet deterents in different places well then you keep them on their guard. Deer are skittish and want to be able to eat in peace if things aren't always the same they will go somewhere that they are.

Hope that helps!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2004 at 1:16PM
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bolecke(5 OH)

Good point about rotating what you use...I too have noticed that they get used to a particular repellent and it no longer "works".

    Bookmark   March 3, 2004 at 4:38PM
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I am from upstate NY and this year has been really dificult. The point about roatating is good. I started using a "Dear Scram" from the local garden center in September. I applied is liberally first then a few shakes per bush per month. The snow and ice didn't wash much away since it is grandular. BUT -- the point that I am slowly getting to, is that I called the manufacturer and they said that they also rotate their mixture.

My neighbor tried the water gun also (she has tried lots of approaches), but we are limited to usnig it when it is not going to freeze. She tried the Dear Scram for longer than I have, more than a year, and she has settled on it.

I think the key, as mentioned above, is rotating what we use or a product that does that. Great discussions.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2004 at 9:29AM
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JustJoeyGirl(z5 NY)

I too have a deer issue. We bought our house, which is bordered in the rear by woods, and has a deer run right through our side yard. Being our first house, we thought it was wonderful. The first fall in the house we went to a nursery and started buying plants, a woman there said she gave up 'feeding the deer a banquet'. I laughed, and thought she was just not a gardener. Boy, what I know now!

I've used the Irish Spring in stockings tied to the plants..it just got mushy, it didn't work for me. I've 'burned' a few plants with ro-pel. I've tried the homemade spray repellants, none have worked for me. The ONLY thing that has worked for me consistantly is human hair. Sounds gross, but it works. Everytime my husband and I get our hair trimmed, we have the salon sweep up the trimmings and put it in a bag. I take it home and scatter it in the gardens, especially aroung the plants I know the deer and other animals eat. It has worked for me.. I know, last fall I got lazy and thought I'd be safe, I didn't put any down since July and that fall they came, they saw, they ATE. So we started collecting hair again. Once the salon gave me a bag they saved for me, but it had long hair in it, that was gross. We just get a little trim so the hair is fuzzy and short

    Bookmark   March 11, 2004 at 1:32PM
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tigerlily_oh(Zone 6 SEOhio)

I have never tried soap, but I have used dog hair (I know, sounds kinda gross)in my garden and flower beds and it seems to be working. I'm not sure if we had deer or rabbits munching on our green beans but it stopped after I spread some hair around the base of the plants. The beans have not been chewed on since then and I have only applied it twice this summer. We have a collie/chow mix and he is constantly shedding, so when I brush him I save the hair and put it to good use.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2004 at 10:52AM
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Kinda off topic, but I'm trying to find something to repel cats..

    Bookmark   October 21, 2004 at 6:24PM
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Honey, were your rhododendrons ruined when they ate them to the ground? That is so awful. How many did you lose, or did they grow again? I have two that they nibbled on, but I think they'll be ok.

I'll have to try the Liguid Fence and Deer Out.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2004 at 9:46AM
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