Repellents Stop Deer From Eating Landscape

Nancy Szerlag: The Detroit News – Gardening

I’ve planted a lot of new shrubs this summer and several are on Bambi’s menu of favorites, so Jeff and I are doing double duty to keep the deer from destroying our landscaping.

One method we use is fishing line barriers. Clear 30-pound test monofilament fishing line stretched taut between trees or posts at a height of between 30-36 inches makes a dandy deer barrier that’s cheap and easy to install. The deer can’t see it and are spooked when they hit it with their legs.

To start, wrap the fishing line around a tree a couple of times and tie it. Then go to the next tree and wrap it around several times, pulling it taut. We use staples to help secure the fishing line to the trees. If you lack trees, 2-by-2 stakes work — just be sure to allow a couple of extra feet to drive into the ground so they remain upright when you pull the fishing line taut. While this job is not difficult, it’s best done by two people.

While the fishing line works, we can’t use it across entryways and there are plants and trees outside the fishing line enclosure that we want to protect. But we think we have found a deer repellant that is not only effective, but will last through the winter.

There are a lot of good deer repellents, but they wash away and must be reapplied after a couple of hard rains. However, the blood-based deer repellent, Plantskydd is guaranteed to last up to six months on dormant plants, so an application now will last until April. If you live up North, you will be happy to know it also works on moose and elk, as well as deer. 

Though it’s made of blood, it’s safe for use around kids, pets, birds and even critters in the soil. 

It does stink, but the odor goes away after three hours. I suck on a medicinal flavored lozenge while applying it. Disposable rubber gloves are a must because the stuff is sticky and it can stain. You can pick up cheap gloves at a dollar store.

Plantskydd comes in a spray bottle and in a concentrate. A granular formula, in a convenient shaker can, is effective on small animals such as rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, voles and other small rodents, and does not smell. 

To find a local dealer near you, go to their Web site,, and click on Michigan.


Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and Metro Detroit freelance writer. Her column appears Saturdays in The Detroit News – Homestyle.