Ways to Keep Deer and Rabbits Out of Your North Carolina Gardens - Carolina Country

How to Keep Deer and Rabbits Out of Your Gardens

Advice from Readers

How to Keep Deer and Rabbits Out of Your Gardens

I am a hairdresser, and I can’t tell you how many people have come in and asked for hair. That’s right HAIR. I’ve heard several explanations why it works.

—Sonja Finck, Elizabeth City

Well, I grew up on an apple farm, and this worked well to keep the deer out of the orchard. Take a piece of bar hand soap (the trial size will do) and tie it to a branch or something about waist high off the ground. The stronger smelling the soap the better!

—Tim Wiltse

I quickly became friends with my husband’s barber and asked him to save hair from haircuts. I strew the hair in my garden, thickly at row ends, and outside rows. It works!

—Flo Sproles, Cherryville

When we lived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, we had the same problems with deer and rabbits. The solution for us was: Human hair from your local beauty shop around the perimeter and blood meal that you can get from your garden center, spread in between the rows.

—Pamela Stemen, Charlotte

We use an electric fence and a small charger. We keep it low to the ground. It’s been there several years, and it’s worked on deer, rabbits, coons, possums, anything.

—Owlie Seawell, Moore County

Surround your garden with chicken manure. It works on deer, rabbits, chickens, coons and people.

—Ryan Jordan, Lenoir

I put four or five mothballs in an onion sack, hang it from a tree about as high as a deer. You can spread them around the garden, too.

—Robert Hardy, Thurmond

Take pieces of garden hose and surround the area with them. I’ve done this for 20 years, and no rabbit has ever crossed it. They hop around outside it. They must think it’s a snake.

—Mark Heisey, Creston

Put up some posts and run clear fishing line. You can run it at various heights, depending what you’re trying to keep out.

—Kate O’Brien, Carolina Lake

My father uses white cord at his place in Piney Creek. He actually uses strips of sheets. Deer were eating from my flower box. Moth balls, human hair – they didn’t work. Dad says, “Why don’t you try what I’ve been telling you?” So I ran some brick line and tied strips of plastic bags every two or three feet, so people don’t run into it. The deer won’t cross it. My dad has used his torn sheets for 40 years.

—Nathan Thomason, Salisbury

I drove stawbs in the ground around my vegetable garden, tied twine between the stawbs and hung white plastic bags from the twine. The deer stopped eating my peas and went on down the road. -Margaret Daughtry, Beulaville

You know those motion lights? They kick on when you walk under them? I hooked up a radio that goes on when deer get near it. The sound must keep them away. Put it on whatever station YOU want to hear. Deer won’t like it.

—Scott Holden, Yadkinville

Take a bar of soap, drive a stick into the ground, and put the soap on it. Ivory works good.

—Wiley Roper, Scranton

One of my golfing friends, Al Engmann, recently moved into Cypress Landing. During one of our golf outings, we discussed the problem with deer eating shrubs. Al told me about a black mesh product that you place over your shrubs. I found the product in the garden center at Lowes and placed it over my azaleas. It is almost invisible in bright sunlight. After using it, I had no further problem with deer. I think it is called “deer guard” and comes various sizes and rolls.

—Roger Dawson, Moores Beach

This is the Web site Jenny Lloyd and I found for Deer Off: www.deer-off.com. It has a dealer location finder and a toll free phone number: 1-800-DEER-OFF for a local dealer.

—Renee Gannon, Carolina Country

We have found that putting moth balls around and in the garden to help with the deer and rabbits eating our plants. We put them in the rows, between the plants and the smell keeps them out of the garden. When it rains we have to put more out because the rain dissolves them.

—Kim and Glenn Ruff, Polk County

Living in the foothills of Burke County, along Irish Creek and near Table Rock Mountain, we have our share of God’s little critters in our yard - and in the garden. Over the years, my wife Patricia has waged a relentless battle against the deer and  rabbits who discover our garden. This talented woman has tried almost every non-violent method mentioned. To date she has refused to try two suggestions: pouring human urine around the garden and spraying the plants with a concoction of milk and raw eggs.

Patricia has collected human hair and religiously sprinkled it at each corner and on other occasions substituted rags soaked in perfume or aftershave. She has planted marigolds nearby, tied aluminum pans on poles, created a scarecrow, and even sprinkled chicken manure here and there. Strips of scented plastic trash bags did not work. This year, nearby trees are festooned with yellow cloth streamers flapping in the breeze. These did not work either. Patricia’s only success has been in saving the strawberry plants by completely covering the entire patch in wedding veil material.

Perhaps the old farmer’s adage remains true: you plant 1/3 of the crop for disease, 1/3 for the critters, and 1/3 for your family. But don’t tell my wife this—she still thinks that she can save it all.

—Larry Clark, Morganton

1) Rabbit and deer repellent: Blend well two to three eggs. Pour into it a gallon of water. Spray plants. Holds for about two weeks unless rain washes it off. Re-spray as often as needed. Works well in Carolina and California. I’ve done it in both places.

2) Deer and rabbit fence: Available commercially. It is a 6-foot wire that has small mesh at bottom and larger mesh at top. Drive in 10-foot “T” posts with a post pounder. Attach “deer and rabbit” wire, plus two strands of barbless wire at top to make it 8 feet high. This does the trick well. Eight-foot gates are easy to construct using elbows, Ts, pipe and wire. We just fenced in five acres.

—W. Boone Mora, Camarillo, CA (formerly of Jackson, N.C.)

My home is on a small farm in Washington, NC. We do not let people hunt, and we have no outside dogs. I planted a garden this year. I ran string all around it, and tied groceries bags on it. The noise they made when the wind blew kept the deer away. Their feet prints came up to the string and stopped. I plan to make streamers to put up this year so it will look better. It did not stop the rabbits.

—Patricia Boyd Plymouth

I lived on the edge of a wooded area of over 100 acres with streams and wet weather runs. We had a deer family that traveled through our yard, both front and back. There are no open fields for 500 yards north and south, or one mile west and east. One year I reseeded our back yard with white clover, including 5 to 10 feet around my garden. After this, our vegetables were not bothered. The clover was always “mowed” by our four-legged friends.

—Charles Garrette, Ashland, Va., Halifax EMC member

Comments (14)

  • hopes this help

    gloria |
    May 30, 2014 |

  • Whoa, folks. Do NOT put moth balls in your food gardens, especially where they can dissolve into the ground. Napthalene is seriously bad for you. Do a google search for it and read up. Major no-no. I've had really good results using dog hair in panty hose tucked under the especially tasty veggies. Washed or not doesn't seem to make a difference.

    Kathy |
    June 05, 2014 |

  • Some great tips here and I agree that moth balls aren't a good idea, especially for me since I have an organic garden. I'm surprised nobody mentioned deer resistant plants - there are quite a few of them. Here's a helpful page with more info: frederickfence.com/how-to-keep-deer-out-of-your-garden

    Jim Robinson |
    July 15, 2014 |

  • Kathy is right, no moth balls! They are also toxic to cats and dogs.

    Texgal |
    August 17, 2014 |

  • MOOSE, that is the problem for me. They eat almost anything at all times of the year. I tried Irish Spring hung in my Mountain Ash tree. It was almost comical to see them foaming at the mouth! Didn't slow them down. Thousands of dollars invested in landscaping, I give up. They have eaten my cruciferous vegies for the last year. Next year I will buy them from the local farmer's market. If anyone has a fool proof solution, please let me know.

    Mary |
    September 02, 2015 |

  • I used soap last year and it worked. I put bars if soap out this year and something is eating the soap! So far the plants are left untouched, but the soap is disappearing a little more every day! I'm very curious to find out what kind of critter would eat soap!

    Rondi |
    November 08, 2015 |

  • Other suggestions for reducing damage from deer: Use combination planting in mixed beds and borders. Integrate at-risk plant species with deer-unfriendly natives. Hang them high; that includes plants and birdfeeders. Remove shrubs or understory plants that give deer shelter and invite them to linger. Prune low-hanging limbs on fruit trees. Place plant containers near the house or beyond the animals' reach on patios and decks. Add yard art or ornaments that frighten deer. Strips of light-reflecting aluminum and objects with moving parts often prove effective. Orchard fruits, vineyard grapes and acorns littering the ground constitute a deer feast. Gather them up. http://peerh.com/home-garden/

    asira |
    February 14, 2016 |

  • Lowes sales a tall sprinkler on a pole that has a motion sensor on it to repel unwanted guests. Bought one last spring and no more deer problems.

    Paul |
    October 22, 2016 |

  • One thing I have found is Lenten Rose plants as if I plant them near my camellias the deer don't eat the camellia plants. They will eat camellia plants six feet away from the Lenten Rose plants.
    Last fall I planted 120 pansy plants and the next morning, they were all pulled out of the ground or eaten. I have not planted any this fall so far.

    Mary Lamperski |
    October 28, 2020 |

  • We live near Pittsboro on 6 acres with woods and farms all around and have found a great solution. It is working against deer and anything else. This spring is the first time my roses have not been eaten or touched at all. Pest Away Ultrasonic Repeller. We now have 3 of them spread across 2 acres of gardens and deer won’t come near. Each repeller provides a wide and long cone of coverage. We get them from Amazon.

    Carla Merrill |
    March 31, 2021 |

  • What is/are ‘stawbs’? In the article ‘How to Keep Deer and Rabbits Out of Your Gardens- Advice from Readers’, Margaret Daughtry, Beulaville offered this advice: “I drove stawbs in the ground around my vegetable garden, tied twine between the stawbs and hung white plastic bags from the twine. The deer stopped eating my peas and went on down the road”
    What is/are the ‘stawbs’ she drove in the
    ground? Extensive Google-searching did NOT result in my finding out what ‘stawbs’ are. I’d be very interested to learn what ‘stawbs’ are.
    Thank you .

    L Faith Birmingham |
    May 16, 2021 |

  • Stobs are short stakes usually between 12 and 36 inches long.

    Paul |
    May 20, 2021 |

    • Thank you . The particular spelling used by Margaret Daughtry : ‘stawb’ I had never heard/encountered before (I’m a native North Carolian) . So I asked a gardening friend of mine (also a lifelong North Carolian) with this reply”?I assume it.is a stob.......a.stake...... I assume to serve like a caltrop” Oh my, what is a caltrop!? Three new words in one day! I now know all of these - LOL!
      Caltrop https://g.co/kgs/uMD2mF

      L Faith Birmingham |
      May 20, 2021 |

  • Don't mean to be a downer BUT....I read an article that said "deer will eat ANYTHING if they are hungry enough....even rosebushes !! I had some luck with Irish spring soap cut in thirds and put into small cloth bags with pull strings. Found in the bridal favors section at Amazon and hung on the tomato cages. You can dry the soap wash the bags a reuse the following year. Good luck !

    Susan |
    March 17, 2022 |

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