Watching deer graze in a field or rabbits bouncing through the grass can be a peaceful experience. Watching them graze in your garden, not so much. While these charming creatures mean no harm, they can leave your veggies and plants nibbled and damaged.
SF Gate, recommends checking your leaves. Bugs will leave jagged edges and half-eaten leaves. Rabbits and deer will leave a clean cut or eat the entire foliage. You can keep your plants and veggies safe from the friendly herbivores without expensive chemicals or dangerous traps by using something you may already have on hand: Irish Spring Soap!
The soap only works on pests like mice, rabbits, and deer (you'll have to address insect problems another way). While it isn't going to completely eliminate your problem, this simple remedy should kee most visitors at bay.
You'll need to slice an Irish Spring bar of soap into 1/2-inch cubes. (They don't have to be exact, you just want enough cubes to spread out). Next, place two pieces of the soap into a drawstring pouch, and knot it closed. Alternatively, you can wrap it in some cheesecloth.
Watch the demonstration of this technique in video below:
Staple your soap bag to a wooden stake and drive the stake into the ground about 5 to 10 feet apart, around your garden. If you don't want to nail stakes into the ground, you can lay the pouches under vegetation. (Monitor your garden to determine if you need to add more pouches to certain areas), according to SF Gate.
Georgia Wildlife suggests that deer, in particular, are put off by the scent of animal fats in the soap. If you can't get Irish Spring, try any scented soap made with tallow, which is derived from animal fat. Additional research by the University of Vermont Extension, suggests that soaps containing coconut oil can attract deer (so check your ingredients!)
If you have a high deer population, you may need to put out more soap bars. Gardener Scott shared his experiments with Irish Spring soap as well as some homemade soaps. "They begin to recognize that the surprising and offensive odor is now normal and part of the landscape. At about the six-week point, I noticed deer damage to plants at the periphery of my test area. The plants within a two-feet radius (.6 meter) of the soap bars were still untouched," he writes. He recommends using more soap in closer proximity, or regularly changing the smell to keep it offensive to the deer.
In addition to soap, try planting artemisia, tansy, yarrow, mint, thyme, tarragon, oregano, dill, or chives. The smell of these plants may also act as a deterrent, according to the University of Vermont Extension.
Do you find deer munching on your garden? How do you keep them away? Share your tips in the comments below.