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6 Effective Ways to Keep Deer From Eating Your Tomato Plants

6 Effective Ways to Keep Deer From Eating Your Tomato Plants

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Deer are a common sight in many woodland areas around the country. Many homeowners live near places where deer are commonly found.

If you live in one of these areas and you have a vegetable garden, you might find the deer are more of a pest than a cute distraction.

They tend to look for food at night when everything is quiet, and this means they’ll be very interested in tomatoes and any other fruit or vegetable you might be growing!

What About Tomatoes?

Tomatoes are a great vegetable plant to grow. They are easy to grow, hardy, and will produce fruit quite quickly if looked after well.

The problem is that if you also happen to live near deer, the deer will also be interested in your tomatoes.

How Should You Keep Them Away?

The truth is that some people would prefer to shoot deer rather than find nonviolent means of keeping them at bay. Realistically, this will not solve the problem at all, and it can also be dangerous if you live around other people in a residential area.

The best way to keep deer away from your tomato plants, and your garden in general, is to look at using nonviolent means of helping them keep their distance.

Here are some good options to seriously consider:

1 – Use a Commercial Spray

Spraying Tomato Plant

The good news is that you can buy deer repellent sprays from hardware and gardening stores. Like other animals, deer have a sensitive sense of smell. They are prey animals, so deer need to have a keen sense of smell so they can detect possible danger early and move away.

There are deer repellent sprays that are not friendly to deer. Deer are also very sensitive to other strong smells, such as rotten eggs, so you might want to experiment a little with hanging bags of smelly substances near your tomatoes.

Otherwise, just invest in an official deer repellent spray.

2 – Use a Homemade Spray

If you don’t have access to commercial sprays, you can actually make your own very effective deer repellent.

If you happen to have some hot sauce in the pantry, mix it with 16 parts of water in a spray bottle. Then go outside and liberally spray your tomato plants and other plants with this substance.

The deer will not like the smell and leave your vegetables alone. You just have to remember to spray the plants again after it rains.

3 – Use Soap

Holding A Bar Of Soap

You can also use soap to keep deer away. The smell will be strong enough to deter them from getting close.

The best way to do this is to put the soap in nylon stockings and then tie them around your plants.

Interestingly, deer don’t like our human smell either. You can actually put cuttings of human hair into the same nylon stockings and hang them like talismans around your tomato plants too.

This will work just as effectively if you can bear the thought of using hair! In fact, why not experiment with other strong smells too?

4 – Install a Fence

One of the most effective things you can do to keep deer away is to install a fence. This provides an effective barrier that allows you to control deer movement.

Just bear in mind that any fence you do install will need to be at least 8 feet high so that the deer can’t jump over it.

An electric fence is a good idea because it will provide a mild electric shock that the deer won’t like at all. Eventually, they will learn not to go near the tomatoes and other vegetables to avoid this mild electric shock and pain.

Just remember that you only need to have the electric fence active at night, because this is the time when deer are looking for food.

However, an electric fence is not for everyone. In this case, a fence that is composed of either chain links or heavy gauge wire will be just as effective.

Some people install a fence around all of the vegetables in the patch, but it can get expensive. For this reason, it might be best to just install separate fencing around each tomato plant.

Ideally, you can install narrow gauge wire fencing around each plant so that it forms a cage. This will allow you to keep an eye on the plant, but will prevent any deer from poking a head through to get at the fruit.

5 – Lay Down the Wire

Roll Of Mesh Wire Fencing

Like other animals, deer have great senses, and you can use this to your advantage when it comes to keeping them away from your tomatoes and other plants.

If you have plenty of fencing wire, you can actually lay it flat on the ground around your garden. The deer don’t like the feel of wire under their hooves and will avoid it where possible. This is a bit like dogs not liking the smooth feel of tiles under their paws.

This method is a great way to keep deer away without much fuss or investment, and does so without resorting to electrified fences.

6 – Ultrasonics

Finally, you can also purchase ultrasonic products that are guaranteed to keep deer and other animals at bay. These products emit a high frequency sound that only deer and other sensitive animals can hear.

This will annoy them and keep them away.

Final Thoughts

If you grow tomatoes and other plants in your garden and you happen to live near where deer are active, you might find that they get into your garden at night and eat your fruit and vegetables.

Fortunately, there are a number of methods that will deter them and keep them away, including smells they don’t like, fencing, and either homemade or commercial repellent sprays.

As cute as deer can be, they can be annoying for some people. Luckily there are plenty of simple, inexpensive, and nonviolent methods of keeping them away.

You might even want to try adopting multiple strategies for maximum effectiveness.

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Thursday 15th of September 2022

I cut strips of dryer sheets and tie them to the tomato cages. Works great.

Janice Hoelscher

Wednesday 17th of May 2023

@Debbie, I hang half bars of Irish Spring soap Also put fishing line at 8” intervals around the plants and I also planted marigolds around them.


Tuesday 21st of March 2023

@Jan, sounds great BUT like repellant sprays, etc. after it rains your dryer sheets won't work anymore and you have to keep refreshing them. PITA ! I like the idea of putting light weight garden mesh over your tomato plants. Rain and sun can get to them but deer won't bother as too much effort.