What Smells Repel Deer?

If I did have a garden, the deer and chipmunks and squirrels and bears would eat everything anyway - Ruth Reichl

Whenever most of us think about deer, the first thing that always springs to mind is Bambi, the shy, playful scamp, and star of the classic Disney film that’s a seemingly integral part of everyone’s childhood. While that image lingers long in the mind, it doesn’t exactly tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about deer.

Deer are wild animals, who are driven by instinct, and that instinct can sometimes make them stray from their natural habitat, and when they do they can become unwelcome, and unwanted visitors in suburbia, and smaller, rural communities. 

The problem is, deer never seem to travel alone, and while it’s unlikely that an entire herd of deer will lay claim to your property, two or three can create a surprising and heartbreaking amount of damage in your yard or garden in an incredibly short amount of time.

And if they’re accompanied by a buck, the havoc that his antlers can wreak on fences, trees, birdhouses, and garden furniture can leave a large and lasting financial impression on your pocketbook and bank account.

Oddly enough, the thing that’ll lure deer to, and tempt them to partake in all of the floral delights of your garden, can also be used to chase them away and make sure that they don’t return.

And the thing that can be your mutual nemesis, and the invading creature’s eventual downfall, is the deer’s incredible sense of smell. If they are drawn to your home, there are a number of smells and scents that deer hate that you can use to frighten and chase them away with.

To help you prepare for a potential Cervidae ( the name that naturalists use for all of the members of Bambi’s global herd ) occupation, we’re going to tell you about some of the most popular, and easy to find and use scents and smells that you can use to keep your home safe and sound from any deer who might be tempted to get a little too close to it.


It isn’t just vampires who can’t abide the smell of garlic, deer aren’t fond of either. A sufficient quantity planted in close proximity to your flowers and any vegetables that you’re growing can be a powerful and incredibly effective deterrent to any deer who wander into your yard or garden.

One of the great things about garlic is that growing it won’t have any impact on any of the other flora and fauna that spring up in your garden, and while it won’t be overpowering enough to put you or your family off spending, and enjoying time in your garden, it will be strong enough to overpower and overwhelm any deer who might want to do the same.

In order to make sure that garlic does what it’s supposed to do and chase away any deer, you’ll need to prune the plant every now and then, which will help to release all of its natural odor. A well kept and maintained garlic plant will act as a barrier between your plants and any deer foolish enough to wander too close to them.


It doesn’t just brighten up and add an infusion of beautiful color to any garden that it’s grown in, Lavender is also one of nature’s most effective animal deterrents. Even though it’s a popular scent with us humans, particularly ladies of a certain age, the majority of the denizens of the animal kingdom hate it.

If you’re looking for a simple, straightforward way to keep deer away from your garden and ensure that their presence doesn’t tear all of your hard work to pieces and become part of their latest three-course meal, then planting a lavender bush or three should fulfill all of your criteria. And as we said, it’ll also add a splash of color to your garden at the same time.

Rotten Eggs

We have to admit we’re not particularly fond of this smell either, but as much as we dislike it, deer hate it even more. It’s not the eggs themselves that they hate, it’s the sulfurous stench that they give off as they’re left to putrefy and decompose that deer can’t stand. And we can’t say that we blame them, as it would be enough to put us going anywhere near anywhere it was too.

The smell of rotting eggs was actually registered for usage as an animal repellant in nineteen seventy five by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), and the sulfuric odor is often used as a key ingredient in a lot of the more popular brands of deer repellant.

We’re not suggesting that you litter your garden with decomposing eggs, but it might be wise to invest in a couple of bottles of spray to keep the deer away. If you do though, be careful when you use it, and make sure you’re wearing gloves while you spray your garden, as it can and will stick to you like crazy glue, and take two or three long soaks in the tub to get rid of.

Wolf Pee

No, you didn’t make a mistake, and you’re not seeing things, wolf pee will make deer turn tail and light out of your garden faster than Grease Lightning if they even catch a whiff of it.

Wolves are an alpha predator in the wild and as deer form part of day to day diet, if they even think that there might be a wolf in the immediate vicinity (and their strong sense of smell will let them know if there might be), a deer will head in the other direction as fast as its four legs will carry it.

Again, we’re not suggesting that you attempt to track a wolf in order to somehow get a sample of its urine that you use to protect your garden. You don’t need to, because Predator Pee has created a spray that you can use to make sure that no deer will ever venture into, or come near your garden.

Do Coffee Grounds Keep Deer Away?

It isn’t so much the smell of coffee grounds and their rich, bitter scent that might keep deer away from your garden, it’s the possibility that they might encounter or run to humans if they do, that might keep them away.

There is, however, no evidentiary proof that deer don’t like the smell of coffee grounds, and whether or not they will act as an effective deterrent is dependent on the deer in question having encountered humans and associating the smell of coffee with mankind. It’s a lot of maybes and too many “possibly’s” to rely on, so we wouldn’t recommend that you put your faith in coffee to chase deer away.

Do Moth Balls Repel Deer?

They can, and they will but the quantity that you’d need to spread in your garden in order to overcome their sense of smell and act as a deterrent makes it financially untenable, and besides, who wants to cover their garden in mothballs when there are far more effective and efficient ways to keep deer away?

Does Mint Bother Deer?

Like lavender, mint has an incredibly strong natural scent that usually overwhelms and subsumes any other smells and because it’s so overpowering, it can and does act as an effective deterrent against deer.

It isn’t that deer don’t like the smell, it’s the fact that if there’s mint present, they can’t smell anything else, and usually avoid any area that has a high concentration of mint.

Does Vicks Repel Deer?

Vicks, rather surprisingly, does repel deer. By dabbing a little on the plants in your garden, the combination of cedar oil, camphor, and eucalyptus in Vicks is enough to make sure that they will give your garden a wide berth and stay away from it.

It isn’t the Vicks that chases them away, it’s the combination and quantity of the ingredients, all of which are anathema to deer, that it contains that they hate.

It’s an easy to apply and even easier to source deterrent that won’t harm any of the plants in your garden provided that you don’t use too much of it, and will also ensure that any other would-be invaders will also stay far away from your plants, vegetables and vibrant, colorful displays of flowers.

Does Cinnamon Keep Deer Away?

Cinnamon is another smell that deer seem to hate and tend to avoid in the wild, so if it makes them steer clear of anywhere it can be found in the world, it makes perfect sense to use it in your garden.

In fact, cinnamon, or “spice scent” as it’s also known, is another active ingredient that a lot of more naturally focussed and environmentally conscious and kind deer repellents use to prevent deer from trespassing where they’re not wanted.

And best of all? If you use one of these sprays to prevent deer from taking over your garden, you’ll still be able to enjoy spending time in your yard without being repulsed by the smell of the deer deterrent that you had to spray.

Does Vinegar Repel Deer?

Vinegar is an incredibly effective deer deterrent and can be used to make your own homemade repellent. And all you need to do to make it is mix five hundred milliliters of white vinegar with five hundred milliliters of water, pour it into a spray bottle, and spray it all over the flowers and fauna in your garden.

It’ll not only keep deer away, but it’ll also dissuade your dog from peeing on your plants and make sure that your neighbor’s cat stops using your garden as its litter tray.