Coffee Grounds: Can You Use Them to Deter Deer?

Picture of Deer Grazing With Text "Coffee Grounds vs. Deer" Overtop

It’s frustrating that upon waking up in the morning, you’ll find out that all the hard work you’ve invested in your garden suddenly turned into havoc, the culprit… Deer.

Deer have a strong sense of smell, which they use to find accessible food sources. While there is no scientific evidence that coffee grounds will deter deer, the bitter smell of spent coffee grounds may signal to deer that humans are nearby and keep them away from your property.

As innocent-looking, as they are, deer usually sneak into your property during the nighttime and either ruin your trees by rubbing their antlers on them, or by eating your plants. Here’s the gist, are coffee grounds a real way to stop deer in their tracks?

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Do Coffee Grounds Deter Deer?

As mentioned, there are no specific studies or basis that we can refer to regarding the efficacy of coffee grounds in deterring the deer from your property.

However, that’s OK. It’d be an odd thing for researchers to request grant money for at a university.

The most logical reason why deer seem to be disturbed going through areas with coffee grounds is the strange smell that it produces, which triggers their defense mechanism to believe that humans are close and nearby.

Spent coffee grounds are EXTREMELY bitter in scent, and rather strong. Personally, I make black cold brew coffee and the scent is a bit less better when the grains are spent.

Cold brew actually releases less acidity, so that’s why the scent is a bit less.

Hot coffee however, is a better ticket to keeping deer away.

More on that in just a bit 🙂

With all of this, it’s safe to say that spreading coffee grounds in your backyard is not a guaranteed solution in deterring deer. There are other methods that more than likely will work better in deterring deer.

However, you more than likely have the ingredients for an ol’ cup o’ joe sitting on your shelf right now, and this is something you can try today or tomorrow, with low cost and relative ease to see if it works.

How Do You Use Coffee Grounds To Repel Deer?

While knowing that there’s no science behind this, and that we’re just holding onto the idea that deer hate the pungent smell of coffe grounds. so the best way to help it work is by making the scent of your grounds EXTRA smelly.

So, just how do we do that?

Basically, the key is to merely store up used coffee grounds in a sealed bag or container for up to a week. You should be cautious on this because storing your grounds for a more extended period might develop molds that are not suitable for your plants.

After a few days or a week, spread the grounds near your trees or plants (not directly on them) and this will help to create a bit of a scent barrier that deers will want to stay away from.

Now, back to that hot coffee thing. It’s best to use the spent grounds from HOT coffee, as hot coffee releases more acidity than cold brew. Therefore, it will have a much more bitter and acidic scent when you dump it outside to deter deer.

Since the scent of the coffee grounds won’t last forever, it’ll be best to replace the grounds daily or every-other day for maximum effectiveness.

Naturally, if you want to go the EASIEST route possible without trying to get your coffee grounds as smelly as possible, you can simply just dump the grounds from your coffee filter directly near your plants, right after you make your brew!

Will Coffee Grounds Repel Deer Long Term?

Regularly observe the effect of coffee grounds as your deer deterrent. If it works in the long run, congratulations! Your backyard is now safe from deer. If you want to take a more surefire approach, there are a few other things we’ll discuss in this article.

Before we get to that, it’s important to note that coffee grounds may not be a totally long term solution due to habituatuion.

In simplicity, habituation means that once a deer become accostomed to the smell of coffee grounds, they might realize that there is no actual human presence or threat nearby.

It’s like if you live near an airport and the sound of airplanes is extremely bothersome when you first move in, but over time, the sound becomes much more tolerable until you hardly notice it.

Deer over time will more than likely become used to the smell of spent coffee grounds, so the scent may be less effective as a deterrent over time.

Close up of used coffee grounds.

Other Animals and Insects That Coffee Grounds May Repel

Consider your coffee grounds as an environmentally accepted pesticide that can keep pests such as slugs, snails, and ants at bay.

Coffee grounds in your backyard may serve as a protective barrier that can defend your plants and trees from other pests as well. Not only because of its properties or smell, but because of the rough surface that it gives, which bothers the invaders from coming.

Like dealing with deer, repelling other pests with coffee grounds is also on a case-to-case basis. It might work for a certain period but does not offer a guaranteed effect in the long run.

Regardless, some of the animals and insects that coffee grounds may repel are:

  • Snails
  • Slugs
  • Ants
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Rabbits
  • Deer

Some of the animals on this list simply don’t like the taste of anything bitter, and spent coffee grounds are one of the most bitter things on Earth – especially after sitting out for a few days!

Regardless, some of the smaller insects, like ants, snails, and slugs may dislike crossing the barrier of coffee grounds due to their rough texture. Most of the time, however, there isn’t a reason to repel these insects from your garden.

Other Benefits To Using Coffee Grounds as a Deterrent

Though there’s no assurance in deterring deer, it’s not that hazardous as well to use coffee grounds on your plants and flower bed to its beneficial effects.

Coffee Grounds Improve Soil Composition

According to Oregon State University, coffee grounds contain about 2% of nitrogen, which helps balance the soil’s pH level and makes the soil much more fertile.

If you’re worried about the acidity that it can give to the soil, well, fret not because grounds are not acidic. Hence the acid in coffee is water-soluble.

It simply means that the coffee you’re drinking contains the acid but doesn’t remain on the grounds.

By just throwing coffee grounds into the soil, you increase the soil’s capacity to hold more water which in turn, is better for the soil, trees, and plants!

Not only that, the organic matter of coffee grounds can stimulate healthy root progress that eventually strengthens the soil properties around it. If that happens, it will help your plants to receive the adequate micronutrients that it needs.

Alternative Deer Deterring Solutions to Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds might be a possible aid to your deer problem, but you may not fully like this method since there isn’t a ton of scientific evidence regarding the subject matter.

There are many other practical and tactical solutions that you can try aside from using coffee grounds.

This might be backbreaking, but if you carefully stick with any of these methods, you may finally just enjoy a deer-free backyard!

Use Deer-Resistant Plants

Surprisingly, there are variants of plants that deer hate to indulge. Putting your backyard with deer-resistant plants will make your place less attractive to deer feeding.

This is highly effective when you put those less tasty plants on the outer layer of your garden perimeter.

Visit the official website of Oregon State University for the complete list of deer-resistant plants.

To make things clear, these are deer-resistant plants and not deer-proof plants, therefore, even plants that are on the list may become part of a deer’s daily diet.

These trees will more than likely be passed over by deer – so if you’re looking to plant some trees or plants that won’t be appealing to deer, that list is a good start.

Use Deer Repellents

Like the coffee grounds, there are a large amount of deer repellents on the market that can keep deer away from your property.

We’ve listed some of the best deer repellents in the market today that are not detrimental to deer, or to other organisms in your backyard as well.

Nature’s MACE Deer & Rabbit Repellent

One of the more highly regarded products on the market, Nature’s MACE maximizes both scents and taste technology to effectively repel deer and claims to use all-natural ingredients.

As a result, deer will usually back off even before they nibble on your plants.

Though it offers a fearsome smell and taste to the deer, Nature’s MACE claims to be bio-degradable and non-toxic. It can be directly applied around plants and vegetation.

This product offers year-round protection, making it effective in any season of the year, and can’t be easily washed away by irrigation, rain, or snow.

Deer Out Deer Repellent

Another top-pick product on our list is Deer Out. This repellent comprises 100% natural ingredients and is scented with a minty fresh aroma pleasant to humans.

According to the manufacturer, Deer Out works with both the sense of smell and taste of the deer. They will first take a bite and end up spitting it, sooner they will recognize the scent and stay away from it.

So essentially, this won’t repel deer per say, but it works to keep deer from eating your plants and trees instead!

Bobbex Ready-To-Use Deer Deterrent Spray

According to the study conducted by the State of Connecticut Department of Forestry & Horticulture, Bobbex was determined to be one of the best deer repellent options available.

In that study, Bobbex was graded a 93% protective index score, this product is excellent if you’re looking for a great solution apart from using a fence.

Bobbex claims to be made of natural ingredients, as well.

Install Deer Deterrent Motion Sensor Lights

Suppose you’re not a supporter of using repellents and sprays in deterring deer away from your plants. In that case, another excellent option is to install motion sensor lights.

This tactic is effective in scaring off not just deer but any other possible people or critters that may try to make their way onto your property!

Simply put, this is the best way to ensure that you’re deterring the culprits in your garden without risking your environment.

IQ America Battery-operated LED Motion Sensor Flood Light

If you’re looking for a top-notch product on the market, a solid option is this motion sensor flood light from IQ America.

This product provides 180-degree motion detection that ranges up to 35 feet. Once detected a motion, its 700 lumens super bright flashing LED lights will be activated—a perfect strategy to frighten away intruders and critters alike!

Other Practical Ways to Prevent Deer

If you don’t have ample time to perform monthly precautions in your backyard, you might want to check into some other practical ways to scare off deer in your area.

  • Offer food alternatives away from your plants. In that way, deer will be attracted to that area instead of nibbling off your crops.
  • Plant hedges around your garden. Deer will not pass obstacles that they can’t see through.
  • Get a dog! Dogs that stay outside at night will serve as the best scare-off tactics that you can pull to tend the deer away.

That’s a Wrap!

Whether you prefer using coffee grounds or not to deter deer, it’s still a good idea to combine using coffee grounds with other methods in order to keep deer at bay and away from your property.

Remember, the more tactics you can use, the better. This will keep deer on their toes, and not know what to expect when they visit your yard!

How to pest proof your home in under a day e-book by Zack DeAngelis

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  1. Is there anything I could throw down a hole leading to UNDER my sealed porch? I ask this question because the repellent products are designed for keeping away the animals, while I’m trying to remove an animal which is already inside the house… I’m trying to find a product which will cause the animal to WANT to leave… Thx. Mark M.

    1. Hey Mark, great question. Short answer is not really – once they’re inside the house and have found food or shelter, it’s tough to get them to want to leave because your home is a wonderful shelter there’s probably a food source nearby. One thing that may work is to try an automatic water sprinkler and place that near your porch so that every time the animal tries to reenter, it will get sprayed by a jet of water. Then, you could wait until the animal leaves and seal up the entryway.

      I do recommend for animals inside already or nesting that you call a wildlife control professional.

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