Skip to main content

Keep deer away from your plants this fall

Deer can wreak havoc on plants during fall and winter months. University of Illinois Extension offers advice to help homeowners reduce damage from deer.

"Fences offer the best way to control deer damage in certain situations; however, large-scale installation of permanent fencing may be quite expensive," says Duane Friend, Extension energy and environment educator. Placing a 5-foot tall wire cylinder around a plant can protect individual trees or plants. Tree protectors, plastic tree wrap, or woven wire cylinders can all help protect new plantings.

"Three 6-foot t-bar steel posts placed in an equilateral triangle around a tree can also be fairly effective, even without fencing," Friend says. 

Repellents may temporarily reduce the damage to vegetation, but will not eliminate it completely. Repellents may prevent deer from eating plants, but will not deter damage caused by antler rubbing.

Frightening techniques vary but may include: gas exploders (for use in rural areas), aluminum pie plates that bang together in the wind, scarecrows, lights, lanterns, radios, motion sensors for radio or light devices, and leashed dogs. Begin at the first sign of a deer problem and alternate a variety of options every few days.

When adding ornamental plantings to a yard, select plant species that are less susceptible to deer browsing, such as ornamental alliums, daffodils, and wild ginger, or plant thorny, prickly, or smelly plants.

For more information, visit the Illinois Extension Living with Wildlife website. 

SOURCEDuane Friend, Energy and Environment Educator, Illinois Extension
WRITERJudy Mae Bingman, Communications and Marketing Manager, Illinois Extension

ABOUT EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.