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Gardeners nationwide share a common frustration: deer eating tomato plants. As deer populations grow, this problem worsens.

Though deer are nice to watch, they can cause problems in the garden, particularly when they start munching on tomatoes. While these aren’t their favorite food, they still indulge occasionally.

If your homegrown tomatoes have bite marks or are missing altogether, deer are likely the culprits. This can be discouraging for any gardener, but don’t worry—your garden can thrive despite the deer.

To help you protect your tomato plants this season, here are 15 strategies to keep deer at bay.

Companion Planting

Container vegetables gardening. Vegetable garden on a terrace. Herbs, tomatoes growing in container .
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Incorporating certain plants into your tomato garden can help keep deer away due to their strong scents and taste. Deer-deterring companion plants include marigolds, lavender, garlic, and sage. These plants are unappealing to deer and can act as natural repellents. On the other hand, avoid planting shrubs or trees that could provide cover for deer near your tomato patch.

For gardens near woodland areas or known deer habitats, it’s beneficial to plant these companions along the borders to create a natural barrier. Mix these repellent plants into the same containers if you’re growing tomatoes in pots. To ensure the effectiveness of these plants, maintain them with regular pruning and watering, which helps intensify their scents and protect your tomatoes.

14 Deer Resistant Perennials with Beautiful Blooms

Coffee Ground Barriers

Coffee grounds are poured at the feet of a plant.
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Used coffee grounds serve as an eco-friendly deer repellent. The strong scent of the grounds will act as an unpleasant deterrent for deer, and they’ll stay away from areas where it is present.

Spread the grounds around the perimeter of your garden to create a scent barrier that the deer find unpleasant. Reapply after rain to maintain effectiveness. The caffeine and acidity in the grounds may also enrich the soil as they decompose.

Fill large mesh bags with used coffee grounds and place them around your plants for a more durable solution. These bags last longer, resisting washout from heavy rains and acting as a physical barrier.

Fishing Line Trick

Beyond the fence of the berry bushes- currants and raspberries.
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The fishing line is nearly invisible, making it an effective barrier against deer. It is also better at detecting predators than thin barriers. When strung around your garden, it forms an invisible fence.

As deer enter your garden, attracted by the plants, they encounter the fishing line without warning. This sudden touch, caused by the line brushing against their fur, startles them because they can’t see it. This discomfort discourages them from moving further into your garden.

For best results, string the line around the perimeter at varying heights, targeting a deer’s chest or neck level.


Cute guard dog behind fence, barking.
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Use dogs as natural deer deterrents. Dogs actively chase away deer. Regular patrols by your dogs can instill fear in deer and alert you to their presence through barking.

Install Motion Sensor Lights

Motion detector outdoor lighting is mounted and ready to keep you safe.
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Motion-activated lights are an effective way to deter deer, as they typically avoid well-lit areas due to increased vulnerability to predators. Install motion sensor spotlights around your garden, targeting the areas near your tomato plants.

Scatter Human Hair

Hairdresser sweeping hair clippings on floor in barber shop.
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The scent of human hair can act as a deer deterrent when placed around the perimeter of your garden. Ask your barber or hairdresser for hair clippings; you might have to sweep them up, but they’re usually free. Spread the hair across your garden beds like mulch or fill pantyhose with the clippings and hang them discreetly around your garden.

Use Soap

Bar soap
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For a natural deer deterrent, use strongly scented soap. Place soap bar shavings or full bar soap near your tomato plants and refresh every few weeks. The potent fragrance interferes with deer’s sensitive sense of smell, keeping them away from your garden. Hang the soap from strings in trees or shrubs, or attach it to stakes around the edges of your garden beds.

Design with Large Rocks

Tomato plants with ripe red tomatoes growing outdoors, outside, in a garden in England, UK
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Use a broad rocky border around your garden beds as a deer deterrent. Arrange large rocks in a thick band around your beds. The deer will avoid walking over large rocks, effectively keeping them out. You can also plant deer-resistant plants within the rock border for added protection.

Unique Sounds

Speaker be installed in the garden.
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Deer are sensitive to noise, making startling sounds a practical deterrent. Install battery-powered ultrasonic repellers around your garden, which emit high-frequency sounds detectable only by deer when motion is detected. These sounds are irritating to them, although inaudible to humans.

Additionally, loud alarms or radios can also keep deer at bay. Configure motion detectors to trigger a loud horn, siren, or talk radio upon detecting a squirrel. Change the sounds periodically to prevent the deer from getting used to them. Position speakers so they direct sound towards the plants, ensuring that sudden noises effectively scare away potential garden intruders.

A Sprinkler System

Garden lawn water sprinkler system.
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Motion-activated sprinklers are a good way to keep deer away from gardens. When deer get close to tomato plants, the system sprays a quick burst of water, which deters them from returning. The surprise of being sprayed with water effectively keeps deer from trying to snack on the tomatoes.

Scare Tactics

Gold wind chimes
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Hanging shiny objects from trees and wind chimes or using garden ornaments can temporarily deter deer while your plants establish defenses. However, deer may eventually become accustomed to these objects.

For a more lasting solution, consider placing statues of predators, like wolves, around the perimeter of your garden. The presence of these figures can effectively scare deer away, as they avoid areas where predators appear to be present.

Applying Predator Urine

growing tomatoes
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Deer have a keen sense of smell that they use to detect predators. You can use this to your advantage by applying predator urine, such as from coyotes, around your garden. The scent triggers a fear response in deer, deterring them from the area.

Predator urine is available at many garden centers specifically for this purpose. For best results, spray the urine around your garden weekly and reapply after rain.

Using Fences and Cages as Barriers

tomato near fence
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Physical barriers such as fences and cages effectively protect tomato plants from deer. These barriers prevent the deer from accessing ripe tomatoes and discourage their attempts to raid. Various fencing and caging options are available that use simple, cost-effective materials.

How to Support Tomatoes: Tomato Stakes vs. Tomato Cages

Homemade Pepper Spray

Chili peppers (also chile, chile pepper, chilli pepper, or chilli, Latin: Capsicum annuum) in the green garden. Red color peppers. Close up photo.
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Chili pepper spray, crafted from hot chili peppers, is an effective deterrent against deer targeting tomato plants. Deer are sensitive to capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili peppers, which they find unpleasant in taste and smell.

To make the spray, blend or process the chili peppers, mix with water, and then strain out the pulp before applying.

Plant More Tomatoes

supporting tomatoes with stakes or cages
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It might be disappointing to hear, but it’s nearly impossible to completely stop deer from occasionally biting into your tomatoes. One practical approach is to plant more than you need and accept sharing some of your garden’s bounty with them.

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cinnamon on houseplant
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Gnats are more than just a minor annoyance; these tiny pests buzz around with a persistence that’s hard to ignore. Here are ten effective ways to keep gnats away from your house plants.

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How to Start a Herb Garden from Scratch

Different aromatic potted herbs in wooden crate, closeup
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Growing something as simple as our own herbs is a massive step towards sustainability. You can begin the process in a small space in the kitchen or backyard with some of your favorite herbs. Here are some simple but practical steps to get you started on your own herb garden.

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Plants to Grow Now for a Mosquito-Free Summer

Tall red flowers of Monard bee balm in the summer garden
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