Lavender: Can You Use It to Repel Deer?


Deer in autumn field

You wake up, put on your slippers, take a nice big stretch, and make your way in the kitchen to open up the window that oversees your beautiful pride and joy – your vegetable garden. And just like that – OH DEER – your juicy tomatoes are now on the ground, half-eaten – gone – the deer got to them. You have to save your tomatoes and save yourself from the hassle – it’s time to add some lavender into the garden mix.

Lavender is known to repel deer. Deer do not like the strong aroma of the plant and tend to stay away from it. However, because of its strong smell, it also has a strong taste which deer don’t like. While show-stopping and vibrant for humans, lavender is undesirable to deer.

But don’t let those cute faces and whitetails fool you – deer can be a problem, and it is important to keep deer away, and we’re here to tell you how to do that using lavender.

Why are Deer a Problem?

Before knowing how to get rid of the deer, it is important to know why deer are such a problem in the first place.

Deer will always find a way into your personal space when there is food present. They love to feed on fresh veggies and fruit and will almost always destroy these plants if they have the chance to get near them.

An abundance of deer in one area can also be a problem when it comes to the roads, as they often run across populated streets, causing collisions with vehicles.

Deer also may negatively impact the environment, as they are browsing animals – and because of the rising numbers of deer, browsing too much in one area becomes a problem. Too many deer at once can take up ground coverage, where other species of animals typically live – creating a very unbalanced habitat and animal environment.

It is important to prevent deer from coming too close to your home, and as deer are always looking to eat when they come close to your home and garden, placing lavender as a barrier or near plants that deer tend to eat can be a viable option in keeping them away!

Oh, and deer very much can damage your trees. You can learn more about keeping deer away from your trees here.

Deer Eat Your Fruits

Before we talk more about lavender – let’s first dive into this, what do deer eat? First and foremost, deer are herbivores and are not that picky about the plants they eat. Deer will eat anything from grass, twigs, corn, fruits, fungi, and vegetables, and when food isn’t readily available, they will eat bark, buds, and shoots. That being said, the foods that deer LOVE is different from their typical day-to-day meals.

Deer love to eat fruits, vegetables, and nuts – it’s like candy to them. With their typical “bland” based diets, juicy fruits or vegetables, or something savory like a walnut, makes them actually go nuts – and because of this, they get into our vegetable gardens quite often.

Deer Like to Eat Your Vegetables

Deer not only like, but they LOVE to eat vegetables! deer will eat just about anything and everything, especially if their food source is scarce.

It’s no surprise that when they see a full garden, they immediately try to consume all they can fit into their little deer stomachs.

Deer like to feed at night and all the way until dawn – which is one of the reasons why we wake up to nibbled-on and missing fruits and vegetables. Since they eat during the night, this is also why it’s so hard to stop them – unless you want to stand guard all throughout the night! Which leaves us with the question, how do we keep deer away?

How Do I Keep Deer Away from Eating My Plants and Vegetables?

Keeping deer away from eating your plants can be one of the hardest and one of the most taxing issues to deal with in regard to gardening. With a lot of trial and error, and I bet you’ve had a bunch of errors if you’re reading this, and with trying out methods such as putting a fence up or maybe even hanging a bar of soap in a cheesecloth from a nearby tree, it still just isn’t enough!

And yes, although these methods may work – fencing and soap become temporary solutions to a very, what seems like, permanent issue.

Deer will get used to the fence and possibly jump it, as it will eventually just become a part of their atmosphere, and they will adapt to it. And also, using a fence can be pricey, especially if there is no guarantee that it will work.

In terms of the bar of soap, the deer may not be too affected by this method. If you are hanging the bar of soap in a height that is taller than they are, it may not be an issue for the deer at all because there is little chance that the deer will get the scent on their skin if it’s above them. Deer feed on ground level to six feet in the air, so if you do try this method, make sure it hangs no more than six feet above the ground.

One thing we suggest you try right now – is adding some lavender to your garden and landscape, whether it’s in the form of a plant or in an essential oil form.

If you’re interested, you can read our full list of the best natural deer repellents here.

Lavender as a Plant

Lavender is a flowering plant and herb, and believe it or not, the foliage of the plant can be considered as part of the evergreen shrub family. Its aroma is very sweet yet floral, and it has become a very “go-to” scent for relaxation and stress relief.

Whether it’s by having actual lavender plants in your home and garden or by using essential oils in diffusers, lavender has become widely known in both the home and wellness industry and is used as an herbal medicine in many countries.

Does Lavender Keep Deer Away?

I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t lavender just an amazingly fragrant plant that helps with relaxation? Oh, well, it sure is – and trust me, you will be relaxed when you no longer have to worry about deer getting into your garden. According to Oregon State University, although aromatically pleasing to humans, deer don’t typically find these strong-smelling florals tempting. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – when faced with plants with vibrant aromas, deer tend to stray away.

Lavender is also poisonous to a lot of animals, and it is in their natural instinct to stay away from it. However, because of this, it is always ESSENTIAL to check with your veterinarian before using lavender if you have pets.

Why Do Deer Hate Lavender?

Deer don’t hate just lavender specifically, but lavender falls into the category of strong aromatic plants. Along with lavender – marigolds, mint, garlic, thyme, oregano, sage, and rosemary are other strong-smelling plants that deer cannot tolerate.

Deer are reluctant in getting too close to these plants because when they do get close, they risk the possibility of getting the scent on their body and having it linger. This can make it harder for them to use their own sense of smell when needed – like with sensing predators or finding their way around an area.

According to Rutgers University, being that the smell of lavender is so strong, the taste is very unpleasant to a deer as well, rating lavender as a rarely damaged plant, and thus, one of the best plants to add to your landscapes that would otherwise be prone to deer damage.

How to Use Lavender to Keep Deer Away

Now that we know the benefits of lavender, how can we use it to keep deer away? There are a few ways to do so, and it truly depends on your preference and what is most convenient to you.

First, you can keep deer away by planting actual lavender plants. Lavender is a beautiful plant, and not only will it enhance your garden, but it will have a function when meticulously placed. Outlining your garden, patio, walkways, and homes with lavender can be an easy way to keep deer away.

Being that lavender is a perennial, as long as it’s planted and cared for in the right conditions, lavender can bloom year after year, giving you a long-term deer-proofing alternative.

If planting isn’t a viable option for you, adding drops of diluted lavender essential oil around areas that need protection, whether it’s your entire garden or only around a few specific plants, can be a great alternative! Adding enough lavender essential oil droplets around your garden can be a simple way to get rid of those pesky deer. 

Another alternative that uses lavender to deter Deer outside and rodents and insects from coming inside is to use dried lavender. Since lavender can be harvested, it’s easy to dry. Once dried, you can hang lavender around your home, sprinkle it around your garden, or stuff the dried florals into sachets and place them in cabinets or drawers to keep bugs away!

You can either grab some dried lavender like this one, TooGet Fragrant Lavender Buds, or make your own dried lavender at home. 

What Other Smells Keep Deer Away?

Since deer have a very heightened sense of smell, the smells that keep deer away are the ones that seem even strong to us!

Think fragrant. Think lingering. Like a freshly picked bouquet of flowers, or better yet, think of those scents that you can easily see as a perfume. Perfumes smell good, but don’t you think they would taste horrible? That’s kind of the same way deer think about lavender.

But there are other scents and plants that deer cannot stand to interact with as well.

Apart from lavender, some other smells that deer hate and will keep them away are the aromas of marigolds, peonies, citrus, mint, and garlic.

We’re going to talk about a few of them below, but if you’re interested, you can read our full list of the scents deer hate here.

Marigolds

Marigolds are extremely fragrant plants, but not necessarily the good kind of fragrant. Although pretty to look at, marigolds exude a strong aroma that will keep deer and other small animals away. You yourself may not even love the smell of the marigolds, but planting marigolds as a decorative feature in your garden and around your home can be an easy-peasy way to keep the deer astray!

Mint & Peppermint

Comparable to lavender in many ways, mint can be used to keep deer away as well. Because of its availability in plant form and essential oil form, mint and lavender often compete when it comes to which fragrance is best in keeping deer away.

Pro tip – use both! Alternate your lavender and mint plants, or possibly go in with using one type of plant and one type of oil.

If you want to try mint to keep deer away, try out this natural spray; you can read our full guide on using peppermint oil to deter deer here.

Peonies

One of the most beautiful flowers can be one of the meanest – when it comes to deterring deer. Comparable to the beauty and vibrancy of the lavender plant, although peonies can easily pass a beauty contest, they just don’t smell or taste good to deer – more for us to look at, right?

With its full-flower shape, peonies are the perfect plant to add to your garden to help keep deer away. Plant peonies close to the plants that need protection, and not only do they make a beautiful feature but provide protection where needed! Also, perennials, peonies are easy to care for – they love full sun and loamy soil.

Garlic

Garlic is a herb that is also available in plant form and oil form. As humans, we can agree that garlic, although EXTREMELY tasty, definitely has a strong aroma. Deer smell that same strong aroma; however, do not find it tasty at all! Because of this, adding garlic plants, garlic oil, or even cloves to your garden can help deter deer.

Before using garlic oil, it is ESSENTIAL to check in with your veterinarian if you have pets roaming about.

Coffee Grounds

Yes, your spent coffee grounds can even deter deer! The scent of coffee grounds can signal to deer that humans are nearby. If you’d like, you can read our guide to using coffee grounds to deter deer here.

What are Some Other Ways That You Can Prevent Deer?

Whatever method you decide to take in preventing deer from destroying your personal property – it is so important to keep yourself protected from the deer itself. Never go near a deer, and if you do see one, keep a healthy distance until the deer goes away. To prevent the deer from coming back, try these steps.

1. Start by planting the things that deer don’t like! For instance, lavender, marigolds, peonies, mint, or garlic.

2. Make unfamiliar noises. Deer are always on high alert, and they have to be because of predators. However, deer quickly become accustomed to their surroundings, which is why making unfamiliar noises on the daily can help if you have deer that come around way too often. New wind chimes, or even simply banging pots and pans or playing loud music when you see a deer, is a good way to keep them away.

3. Create a barrier. Creating a barrier with lavender plants is a great way to repel deer. However, you can try fencing, garden fabric, or netting as well.

References

Donadu MG;Usai D;Mazzarello V;Molicotti P;Cannas S;Bellardi MG;Zanetti S;. (n.d.). Change in Caco-2 cells following treatment with various lavender essential oils.

Perry, L., Dr. Leonard Perry. (n.d.). DEER DETERRENTS–SCENTS. University of Vermont Extension Department of Plant and Soil Science.

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