Vegetarian Predators of Suburbia

In my suburban Maryland location deer are like hoofed sharks. I have a fenced backyard orchard, but it is small and shady, relative to my front. Due to HOA concerns, I cannot fence in my front, however .
Consequently, I have unprotected, decorative plants, and some fragrant bloomers In the front yard,A.k.a. deer caviar.
Has any of you tried DENATONIUM as a deer repellent?I would not intend this for edible plants even though it is non-toxic. I have seen anecdotal, reports of plant absorption both through leaves as well as roots. But I don’t know how absorbable it really is, for systemic use.
I was thinking of making a solution to spray on. I was even going to experiment with emulsions, Perhaps with capsaicin added for extra, cross resistant potency.

Please let me know if any of you have tested this approach

Even my hound dog is no match for the deer


I’ve been gardening and fruit growing for three decades in central MD. Nothing works for me against deer except very high fences, properly set electric fencing, or outside dogs. Sprays work if you never, ever miss following up after a rain event. I fence my fruit trees until they are tall enough that the deer can’t do real damage.

If you fence each tree individually you only need about a 5’ tall fence. Keep the fence in a circle close to the widest branches so the deer have no space to jump into and expand the fence bit by bit as the tree grows. This will completely protect the tree from deer damage. If you fence a group of trees deer will just jump the fence (unless it’s about 8 or 9’ tall) but if you do each tree they can’t get at them.


That stuff looks pretty good for ornamentals. I wouldn’t want it anywhere near my fruit trees though, bitter fruit would be no fun! Tree roots can extend far so it could be a dicey proposition.

I second @PatapscoMike on what works. I am fencing in all young trees and growing them above the deer (eventually).

I got some stuff with coyote urine, worked really well.


The only real solution is pretty distasteful to most people, which is to basically just take care of everyone you see with “lead”.

It’s not something I do or could do, but it would be a solution.


I used bars of Irish Spring for a while. They do work. Not going to completely solve the problem, but will keep them off the ones you have them attached to. They also get stronger when it rains, so there is nothing to respray. The smell does wear down after a while and they need to be replaced, but it is a cheap way to partially solve the problem.

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I haven’t tried it on edible anythings, but I’ve had good luck with this stuff keeping the suburban rats away from my hosta and hydrangeas. You can generally find it at the orange or blue big boxes.

When we lived in northeastern MD, our veggie plot was double fenced, but there was a heard of those large pests that liked to bed down directly behind our fence. Drove our German Shepherd crazy!

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