Dad’s trick: how to keep deer out of your garden or yard (with video!)

Dad's trick: how to keep deer out of your garden or yard (with video!) thumbnail
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Trying to figure out how to keep deer out of your garden or yard? Thankfully, my clever dad figured out an incredibly simple trick that only costs a few dollars and has been 100% effective at keeping the deer out.

Got deer problems? So did we. But we now know how to keep deer out of our garden and yard… 

We grow lots of edible plants in our yard. Many of these plants also happen to be edible to deer.

Also, our property backs up to a forest and we regularly see deer walking through the woods during the day just waiting for nighttime so they can come graze in yards throughout our neighborhood. 

Like any self-respecting man, I regularly “scent” the area along the back of our property where the deer enter. Unfortunately, this effort seems to have minimal impact on deer invasions, especially in the spring when deer are ravenous or when rain is frequent. 

Thankfully, I don’t have to worry about my ineffective scenting for warding of deer, since we now have other solutions that help — and we’ll share them in detail in this article.  

So many people we know – even in urban areas – have “deer problems.” If you’ve spent a lot of time growing and tending a garden or landscape only to have it become another critter’s free salad bar, the resulting sentiments will likely be equal parts rage and heartbreak.

It’s enough to make a vegetarian crave venison!

Vegetable, venison stew anyone? Photo CC license credit Heath A on flickr. / dad's trick: how to keep deer out of your garden or yard

Garden-finished venison stew anyone? – Photo CC BY 2.0 license credit Heath A on flickr.

What to do?

Lucky for you, I’m going to tell you exactly how to keep deer out of your garden.

Dad and Deer War I

It just so happens that my father lives on the edge of a forested golf course.

Deer, as you may not know, are “edge animals.” They’re specifically adapted to occupy the edges of forests and grasslands/meadows. From evening to morning, they’ll forage in the open, plant-rich boundary zones, then settle back into the forest or thickets to rest during the day.

This means two things:

  1. a lush suburban yard with a nearby patch of forest is PERFECT deer habitat; and
  2. if you live in such a place, you’d better learn how to keep deer out of your garden or yard if you don’t want your plants to be eaten.

My dad’s landscape beds have long been full of gorgeous rose bushes and lilies. Much to his dismay, these plants were frequently being mowed down by deer at night.

Determined not to yield to defeat, he went to Lowes and Home Depot to find a fix.

Deer Night.jpg

“Yes, I’d like to order more of the day lilies please.” Image by Iwctoys at the English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

The salespeople were quite happy to sell him products that claimed to be the cure-all for deer… Scented sprays, motion-triggered ultrasonic noise and light devices, etc.

He also tried putting fur from his dog on his most prized plants, hoping the smell of a ferocious predator (a frequently-groomed 20 pound King Charles spaniel) would scare away the pestiferous ruminants.

All these remedies had one thing in common: none of them worked.

Victory: Deer War II – How to keep deer out of your garden using “dad’s trick” 

Lesser men would have given in to despair, but dad invoked his inner-Winston Churchill and soldiered on.

He used the magic of the internet, he consulted farmers, golf course maintenance professionals, and anyone else who could possibly offer solutions to defeat the enemy.

It’s unclear who ultimately provided the idea for the secret weapon that would lead to victory (there was a lot of incoming intel to sort through), but whoever you are, you deserve a medal.

Whoever and wherever you are... thank you.

Whoever and wherever you are… thank you.

The secret weapon: fishing line. Yes, fishing line. 15-30 pound test, invisible fishing line to be exact which you may already have at home or you can buy now via Amazon.  

How does fishing line keep deer out of your garden?

No, you’re not trying to hook and reel in a deer with the fishing line. You simply string the fishing line about 3 feet above the ground attached to stakes. Important note: the lines should be hung a few feet OUTSIDE of the bed(s) you want to protect, not right up against the plants. 

You can use metal or plastic stakes that blend into your garden, making the whole setup virtually invisible to the human eye. Start by inserting 48″ tall stakes about 8-12″ deep into the ground around the area you want to protect. Then tie your fishing line between the stakes about 3′ high. (Here are the 48″ garden stakes we use — they’re long-lasting and equally useful for other garden tasks as well.)

How to hang fishing line to deter deer

A graphic to show you how to hang fishing line to deter deer. Video further below!

How the heck does fishing line keep a deer out of your garden or yard? You have to know a bit about how deer “work.”

Deer see, smell, and hear the world very differently from humans…

Deer have better night vision than we do, but their eyes don’t operate quite the same as a human eye.

You have “predator eyes” on the front of your head. Your eyes give you a 120-degree view of what’s in front of you. They zoom in on a specific point and everything else around that point blurs.

However, deer have “prey eyes” on the side of their heads that give them a 300-degree view. But they can’t clearly see the 60-degree view that overlaps between the input from both eyes.


Deer planning a yard assault. Image by TeaberryeagleOwn work, CC BY 3.0, Link

Simply put, deer are really good at spotting movement from relatively far away and from a very wide field of vision. However, when it comes to having clear, focused vision on something right in front of them, their eyes don’t work very well.

Deer vision works great if a wolf or mountain lion is after them.

Unlike their eyesight, a deer’s sense of smell and hearing is far better than yours.

Now, back to the fishing line trick…

Basically, deer can not see the fishing line that’s right in front of them. They can smell your delicious garden/landscape plants and see a blurry version of that lush, green goodness.

They start to approach the meal you grew for them. There’s no sound, smell, or sight of danger anywhere around. They move in for the feast…

Then suddenly, something right in front of them that they hadn’t detected brushes against their fur. What the heck – run Bambi, run!

And that’s it.

Your garden plants have been saved and the memory of the frightening encounter is etched into the deer’s memory. You emerge from your house in the morning to a clear and glorious view of victory.

Now you know the main trick we use to keep deer out of your garden or yard. (There are more tips and tricks below!) 

Be sure to thank my dad, and those brave men and women who came before him. Without their service, you might never have learned how to keep deer out of your garden…

Video: Fishing line trick to keep deer out


Other than fishing line, are there other ways to keep deer out of your garden? Yes!

Maybe you have so many hungry deer around that the fishing line trick isn’t proving effective. Or maybe you only have a few isolated plants that you need to protect, so the fishing line trick is overkill.

What to do? 

Here are four other proven ways to keep deer from eating your plants:

1. Bobbex all-natural deer repellent spray.

We can thank our neighbor for this one… He has a ton of grandkids who kept tearing down his fishing line, so deer were ravaging his roses and other plants. 

He heard about and tried Bobbex, an all-natural deer deterrent spray. Bobbex contains smell and taste deterrents that keep deer away – and it’s very long-lasting even in wet climates like ours.

According to our neighbor, he’s been able to save his plants from deer with Bobbex. Since our neighbor is only one person’s opinion, we looked Bobbex up on Amazon, and it has nearly 5-star rating across thousands of reviews.  

Bobbex deer repellent spray landscape beds

How to use Bobbex in ornamental and edible garden beds and landscapes.

Should you spray Bobbex directly on your edible plants? No. But you could spray it around them as depicted in the image above.  

2. Row cover for garden beds

If you have edible garden beds you’re trying to protect and you’re not worried about aesthetics, you can use fabric row cover to protect your plants from deer.

In cool months, you can use heavier weight row cover, which also provides temperature protection. In the summer, you can use lightweight or “summer weight” fabric which also provides protection from pest insects.  

Row cover in an edible garden bed can be used to deter deer.

Row cover in an edible garden bed can be used to deter deer.

3. DIY tomato cages

We protect certain deer favorites like hostas, Solomon’s seal, and asparagus shoots that are stand-alone plants in our yard using our DIY tomato cages made from concrete reinforcing wire. (*That link goes to a how to make sturdy tomato cages article on our sister site, GrowJourney.)  

The cages are rusty brown in color so they blend right in, meaning they’re not an eyesore. They also last virtually forever. Most of our cages are over a decade old and still in perfect shape. 

Early shoots of purple asparagus sticking up inside a DIY tomato cage, aka deer cage. You can make these pretty much any size you need, but you want them to be a good bit taller than the plants you're protecting from deer so they can't reach down into the central opening to graze. Also, you want the cages to be wider than the plants you're protecting so the leaves aren't sticking out beyond the cage edges.

Early shoots of purple asparagus sticking up inside a DIY tomato cage, aka deer cage. You can make these pretty much any size you need, but you want them to be a good bit taller than the plants you’re protecting from deer so they can’t reach down into the central opening to graze. Also, you want the cages to be wider than the plants you’re protecting so the leaves aren’t sticking out beyond the cage edges. Since they blend in so well, these are a great option for protecting single plants in a home landscape.

4. Electric fencing

The only 100% effective method we know of for keeping deer completely out of an area is electric fencing. Small farms often have to utilize electric fencing to protect their cash crops. If you live in a more rural area, this is a solution you should seriously consider for keeping deer permanently off your property.  

Deer deterred by electric fence on pasture

Shocking but true: electric fencing is highly effective at keeping deer and other pest animals out of farmland, pastures, or other rural land.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about how to keep deer out of your garden or yard 

1. Does Irish Spring soap keep deer out of your garden? 

Another common claim we’ve heard is that Irish Spring (the popular soap) will keep deer out of a garden or yard. Supposedly, deer don’t like the smell so it keeps them away. Is this true or not? 

Our good friends who live down the street from us recently put Irish Spring soap to the test in their summer garden after having deer problems. When we say “put to the test” we mean they probably put out at least one bar of soap for every 3 square feet. It was certainly smelly enough to keep us out of their garden! 

The results? Deer ate every plant to the ground, repeatedly – even plants sitting inches from the soap.

The sweet potato vines in the background have been mowed to the ground by deer multiple times despite being surrounded by Irish Spring soap. Irish Spring was not an effective deer deterrent in this case.

The sweet potato vines in the background have been eaten to the ground by deer multiple times despite being surrounded by Irish Spring soap. Irish Spring was not an effective deer deterrent in this case.

So it would appear that Irish Spring soap was not effective at keeping deer out of their garden. However, they now have quite a bit of soap in their soil, and who knows what’s in it. 

2. Does Milorganite work for repelling deer? 

Some people use Milorganite to deter deer. In case you’ve never heard of it, Milorganite is a fertilizer made from heat-treated, pelletized sewage from Milwaukee. Yes, seriously. 

While the high heat used in treating it kills pathogens, Milorganite, like other products made from human sewage, most certainly contains countless other unsavory contaminants such as heavy metals, microplastics, pharmaceutical drugs, dioxins, etc. Personally, we don’t want these substances anywhere near our yard or garden where we and our toddler live and eat.  

Will the smell of Milorganite repel deer? Perhaps so, but we’d rather have deer in our yard than Milorganite. 

Also, pretty much any scent-based deer repellent is only good so long as it doesn’t get wet and/or degrade.  

3. Are deer worse during certain times of year? 

For us and our neighbors, deer seem to be more difficult to deal with in late winter-early spring as plants start to break dormancy. At this point in the year, they’re recovering from winter’s scarcity of high quality food.

At this point, the bucks also need all the food they can eat to rebuild muscle and form antlers. The does are about to fawn and have to eat all they can as they enter the third trimester and prepare for nursing. 

We don’t experience much deer pressure from late spring through mid-summer since there is so much food around at that point. We notice an uptick in deer activity in late summer-fall as deer try to put on fat for the cold months ahead. 

4. Will a perimeter border of thorny plants keep deer out? 

In the back portion of our property, we have a thick border of thorny native black raspberries. We intentionally planted them in the spot because it was a deer path, and we wanted to block it without using a fence. 

The result? The deer love eating the raspberry leaves and even some of the thorny stems. And they plowed a path right through the thorny canes. Our verdict? No, thorny plants do not keep deer out of your yard or garden, especially when those thorny plants are edible to deer. 

5. Are there more deer today than there used to be? 

Over the past 100 years, populations of white-tailed deer have exploded in the U.S., which is one reason why more people are having trouble with deer eating their plants. However, it’s also important to put white-tailed deer populations into historical perspective.  

One recent study tried to do just that, estimating that white-tailed deer populations are currently at about the same level as they were prior to European colonization. 

US deer population estimates, 1450 to 2016.

US deer population estimates, 1450 to 2016.

Dad's trick to keep deer out of your yard and garden. #deer #diy #gardening #tyrantfarms

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  • Reply
    Greg T
    May 14, 2023 at 1:00 pm

    I have been doing this for years and it works. You need to put multiple levels of line to keep the fawns out and prevent the large deer from jumping over. Last year a beautiful deer leeped over a 5 ft line and had a feast while I watched.

  • Reply
    March 28, 2023 at 12:56 pm

    Something I have found effective is mixing Palmolive dish liquid (the original green scented) with water and putting in a spray bottle. Spray all the leaves of the plants you want to protect – makes the leaves very bitter and the deer leave them alone after one bite! Only drawback is you need to reapply after every watering, rain or heavy dew as the soap residue will be washed away with the water runoff. I also use Irish Spring bars as a second, but less effective, method. I am planning to add some fishing line this year as well, to help with those times I don’t get them spayed with the Palmolive water quickly enough after water exposure.

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      March 28, 2023 at 2:51 pm

      Thanks for your comment! What makes us a little nervous about recommending things like Palmolive dish soap or Irish Spring soap on plants to deter deer is the bioaccumulation of their chemical constituents in the soil and runoff into nearby waterways (with no water treatment facility in between). You can get an ingredient list for these items, but in the US, companies can just say things like “perfume” or “fragrance” on their ingredients without disclosing everything that’s in it. Many detergents and soaps contain everything from PFAS (forever chemicals) to phthalates, which are pretty terrible for humans and the environment in general. With regular/repeat applications, these chemicals could really build up in the soil around the plants or cause unnecessary pollution, which is concerning even if a person doesn’t intend to eat the plants.

      Last year, we also watched another neighbor’s garden get mowed down repeatedly by deer despite being surrounded by and covered in bars of Irish Spring soap, which ultimately ended up melting into their soil.

      Since our whole yard is basically a giant edible garden that our family (including a toddler) play in and eat from, we’re extremely cautious about what we use in it, and prefer physical barriers/deterrents when it comes to deer control.

  • Reply
    February 27, 2023 at 11:15 am

    We live in a wooded area with a neighbor that feeds the deer and turkey. The deer come through the woods to his property every day. I have strung landscape string at diferent heights and a foot or two from each other. I am trying to change their path which they travel. I am very worried about deer ticks, as another neighbor had lyme disease, which we all need to be concerned with. It seems to be helping, but I am going to try some of the advise you have talked about. We also have no hunting in this town I live in, and it is becoming a problem, the deer have been running onto the road and caused many acidents one of which a deer ran into the side of our car, ran off so not sure if it survived. . Thanks for advise, but also mention lyme disease.

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      February 27, 2023 at 12:03 pm

      Thanks and best of luck keeping deer away from your property! Yes, lyme disease is a horrible problem – and one that’s getting worse each year. We’ve had some friends contract the disease and it took them years to recover. While deer are a large mammal who can carry both lyme disease and the ticks that spread it, pretty much every other type of mammal can do the same (raccoons, mice, etc). So it’s pretty well impossible to keep every animal out of your yard that could possibly bring ticks with them. One reason we keep backyard/pet ducks is because they’re very effective at finding and eating ticks. It certainly can’t hurt to keep deer off your property since their large size means they could carry more ticks than smaller mammals.

      The sheer abundance of deer is a separate but related problem. Deer thrive in human-made “edge” habitat, and without many natural predators around, their numbers can quickly get out of control. (Good review of current vs historical deer populations here: Regulated human hunting is a good strategy to maintain optimal deer population size and ecosystem health while also feeding people high quality meat. Hunting in residential areas is tricky though, given the risks.

      • Reply
        March 4, 2023 at 3:01 pm

        Deer are not hosts for Lyme disease. They simply are carriers of ticks that may or may not be infected. The white-footed mouse is the host. SO STOP KILLING SNAKES, EVERYONE! I’m convinced that is the reason for the uptick in ticks. Everyone I know kills every snake they come across

        • Aaron von Frank
          March 5, 2023 at 9:48 pm

          Good info, thanks! We love snakes and welcome them on our property – exception is venomous snakes since we have toddlers running about.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2023 at 9:11 pm

    I found that Irish spring is quite effective in my area. However, I used a cheese grater to disperse and sprinkle on the area and the plants. Has to be redone after a bit especially after heavy rain. Saved my bushes flowers and rosebushes last year .

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      February 6, 2023 at 12:32 pm

      Thanks for that report, Susan! Our neighbors went through many bars of Irish Spring soap in their garden last summer and their plants still got eaten to nubs. Perhaps grating the soap during application would help. Or perhaps the relative effectiveness has something to do with the specific deer species and/or abundance of other available foliage in the area. Either way, our other concern would be not wanting to have some of the ingredients in Irish Spring soap (specifically the fragrances, color dyes, and salts) in our soil, especially given the concentrations required to potentially repel deer. Quick Google search revealed the following ingredients in Irish Spring: Sodium Laurate/Linoleate/Oleate/Palmitate, Water/Eau, Glycerin, Fragrance/Parfum, Sodium Chloride, Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Oil, Tetrasodium EDTA, Etidronic Acid, Titanium Dioxide, Green 8, Green 3.

  • Reply
    Just bananas
    September 3, 2022 at 3:00 pm

    This doesn’t work long term. I’ve tried the is more than once and eventually a hungry deer will break the line and March right in.

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      September 5, 2022 at 11:29 am

      It seems like there are multiple factors contributing to the relative efficacy of the fishing line deer deterrent method: 1) making sure you do it correctly as far as line height and location around plants; 2) species of deer involved; 3) abundance of deer/pressure; 4) time of year and how hungry deer are. We (and our neighbors) have had fishing line work for months at a time. So have other people we’ve talked with. On the flip side, we also know people with so many hungry deer in their area that it doesn’t work well or for very long. We also include some other deer deterrent methods for folks in need.

  • Reply
    July 19, 2022 at 2:32 pm

    I’ve had my fishing wire fence up for 2 weeks now and I’m so thankful I ran across your post! It’s worked perfectly. We could even see, at first, where they would try to enter and the stakes would lean a bit. At this point I think they’ve given up and found a new garden to feast on. Thank you so much for your help!

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      July 19, 2022 at 2:42 pm

      Yay! So glad to hear that, thanks Kady! Fingers crossed the fishing line trick continues to be effective at keeping deer out of your garden.

  • Reply
    June 16, 2022 at 9:45 pm

    I tried the fishing line and it worked to keep deer away but it also caused a great horned owl to become tangled and damaged its wing feathers. It died in captivity at an owl rehab center while waiting for new feathers to be attached. I took my fishing line down.

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      June 18, 2022 at 6:53 am

      Oh no! That’s incredibly heartbreaking. We’ve never heard of something like this happening from the fishing line trick. That seems like a freak accident that’s very unlikely to happen, but thank you for letting us (and other readers) know.

    • Reply
      Morris Jaskula
      July 10, 2022 at 2:07 pm

      I have ordered Bobbex from the manufacturer–you need to request what they call KU to be added to the product–KU stands for Kicked Up–I’m not sure what it is but I was spraying it a few days ago and wound up downwind–got it in my mouth and eyes–smells and tasted like –Chile oil—– no wonder the deer don’t like it–I have 30 ac and deer and elk both visit but this stuff works great. If you need to call the rep, he is sooooo helpful.
      Also–don’t waste the product spraying a perimeter–just spray the plants you don’t want eaten. I mix it a little more than recommended –not much–the rain won’t wash it away and the results are great, and you don’t have fishing line strung all over the yard. I spray about every 4 weeks–maybe too often, but I don’t care. I landscaped a bit over and acer–day lilies everywhere and HOSTAS–I call Hosta’s DEER COCAIN—-

      • Reply
        Aaron von Frank
        July 10, 2022 at 2:15 pm

        Great tips on using Bobbex for deer repellent, thanks!

  • Reply
    Frances L Gizzi
    September 30, 2021 at 2:44 pm

    I want to order the fishing line and I believe you stated it can be ordered from Amazon – is there a certain weight that is needed – I can’t wait to try this because my fingers are numb from spraying deer deterrent to no avail. thanks

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      September 30, 2021 at 3:37 pm

      Hi Frances! Sorry for any confusion. We provide the test/weight of the fishing line and a purchase link in the article. “15-30 pound test, invisible fishing line to be exact which you may already have at home or you can buy now via Amazon.” Purchase link to the Amazon product we recommended is here: Sure hope this helps you with your deer problem!

  • Reply
    September 19, 2021 at 10:46 pm

    Some deer are smarter than others. We tried the fishing line and our deer figured it out after a while, going over or under it. (It might work if it was just in front of the bush or around the bush.) We installed deer netting, but 12 inches off the ground so our ducks could get thru….the deer belly crawled under and we caught them on camera! If I put a square of deer netting over a rose bush. they only eat what is above the netting, as eating plastic bugs them. (Me too!)

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      September 20, 2021 at 12:08 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Ann! Yes, for some deer, fishing line seems to work great. Others, not so much (or not for long), as your experience shows. Perhaps the success comes down to how many other easier food sources the deer have in the area + how many other deer there are competing for the same food sources. Anecdotally, in the case of the people we know who have had success with fishing line as a deer deterrent, there’s a lot of other food sources around + hunters and coyotes in the area that likely keep their populations in check.

      Another interesting tidbit: a neighbor down the street from us that we’re good friends with loaded her garden up with bars of Irish Spring soap because someone told her that would keep deer away. Well, the deer didn’t care a bit and have eaten every plant in her garden they like – even plants right next to bars of soap. Now, she’s got piles of half melted Irish Spring soap in her soil, and who knows what’s in that stuff.

  • Reply
    Shannon Gibson
    July 31, 2021 at 2:27 pm

    We are off to get fishing line! Our 3 acre yard has woods on 2 sides and we have deer coming and going, sometimes 7-8 at a time. To protect our very large blueberry/blackberry/grape/apple orchard, there is a 4 foot field fence (useless, I’ve seen them jump it from a standstill). My husband took bailing twine, attached dead 10 ft tree branches every 6 feet all around the orchard attached to the fence, then strung the twine to the sticks every foot above the fence height for 2 rows. Unless we forget to close the gate no deer go in there (or if the twine gets loose they can jump through the lines). Hubby actually DID forget to close the gate at apple blossom season and we lost all but one of the gravenstein apple flowers overnight, so instead of the 30 apples we had last year we have 1. I had learned some years back that anything that touches a deer’s chest is a barrier, and this is true. I cut down huge dead fur branches and stake them (sometimes sidewise through a fence, sometimes in the ground) and this also works very well, the pointed sticks they don’t like. This has saved the clematis. The wind is the problem there, it can blow the sticks down. We have roses all over the place and lilies too, our problem is Tall Phlox, which they decimate when it blooms. Right now I’m draping them with old sheets at night which seems to deter them too, but we are going to try the fishing line! Our neighbors can’t figure out what we see in doing all the WORK (gardening). Ha! THANKS FOR THIS ARTICLE AND THE BALD FACED HORNET/WASP information, we have those back in the woods and will wait until their season is done, then remove it. We did have to remove the hummingbird feeder from the deck, where we also sit with our kitties.

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      August 1, 2021 at 12:23 pm

      Deer can drive a person who grows food a bit crazy. That single apple is going to taste amazing. Fingers crossed for your orchard in future years!

  • Reply
    July 15, 2021 at 12:28 am

    I have the most beautiful Annabelle Hydrangeas on either side of my front porch. They get white dinner plate blossoms on them that are as much as 14 inches across. They have been there over 20 years and the deer never bothered them until the last 5 years. I have made my own deer stink to sprinkle on them and it works but you have to replenish it every time it rains. I found your post about 6 weeks ago and immediately wanted to try it. I put posts in up to 5ft because the plants get big. Then I ran fishing line between the 3 posts about every foot going up the stakes and I even ran one line of fishing line across the top between the posts. About a week later I could tell the deer had nibbled at the leaves sticking out past the fishing line but they have not come back since, so it must have spooked them. Hurray!!! Thank you so much for this post – I am telling all my gardening friends.

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      July 16, 2021 at 12:52 pm

      Awesome! So glad to hear this trick worked to keep deer off your hydrangea. Fingers crossed for future years.

  • Reply
    July 8, 2021 at 8:27 am

    Do you have a trick for keeping rabbits away from plants?

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      July 8, 2021 at 12:16 pm

      Hi Carleen! No tricks per se, but fencing is pretty much the only thing you can use to keep rabbits out of a garden bed. Predators tend to keep their populations in check. In urban areas, outdoor cats really decimate their populations by killing/eating the kits.

    • Reply
      September 2, 2022 at 6:30 pm

      I used clear plastic picnic forks. Poke them handle first into the soil around the plants. Make sure the tines point out and use plenty of them. Your non-gardening friends will think you have gone crazy, but…. It was a smallish garden in Southern Arizona and the rabbits went shopping elsewhere.

  • Reply
    Mark Knuth
    June 5, 2021 at 3:09 pm

    My grandma, Iowa farmgirl, taught me the monofilament line trick 45-50 years ago! I use it around my garden and around my arborvitaes! Works great

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      June 6, 2021 at 10:40 am

      Glad to hear that, thanks Mark! It seems like the fishing/monofilament line trick keeps deer away for some people and not for others. Worked like a charm for our next door neighbors, worked for my dad, works for many other people we’ve talked to. However, a few people still have deer problem despite using this trick. Not sure exactly why – maybe it’s specific to the exact environmental conditions, species of deer, or some combination. Since it’s so cheap and easy to do, it’s certainly worth a try for most people before they invest in more expensive solutions like electric fencing. Interesting that your grandma knew about this deer deterrent trick so long ago!

      • Reply
        November 2, 2021 at 11:45 pm

        Interesting. Your statement about environmental conditions makes me wonder … does this work better in areas where farmers use hot wire fences? Maybe the deer who are ‘repelled’ by the fishing wire trick are deer who’ve experienced a hot wire zap, and when they brush against the fishing line they think it might be similar. Don’t know. Just hypothesizing!

        • Aaron von Frank
          November 3, 2021 at 7:48 am

          Certainly possible. Deer in our area probably don’t have a very large home range since there’s plenty of high quality forage around. As best as we know, there aren’t any live wires within a one mile range of our place, but there might be some we don’t know about that the deer have bumped into. Wish we had a better idea of why/when the fishing line trick works to keep deer out (or any other tricks that work), so it could be deployed as effectively as possible.

  • Reply
    April 19, 2021 at 10:51 am

    Greetings from your neighbor in Anderson SC. So excited to find this trick, here’s to hoping this will work to keep the stinkers off my hostas!

  • Reply
    March 14, 2021 at 11:00 pm

    Can you put up a pic of how it looks please?

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      March 15, 2021 at 7:36 am

      Hi Georgia! We’ll put up photos this week, but the design is very simple: 4′ tall standard garden stakes firmly put into the ground around the perimeter of whatever garden beds you’re trying to protect with fishing line tied about 3′ off the ground between each stake. In photos you pretty much won’t even be able to see them since the fishing line is basically invisible and the green garden stakes blend into the background, so we’ll probably have to use photoshop to add effects to clearly show the different elements.

  • Reply
    March 14, 2021 at 1:26 pm

    I want to try this idea because I had deer totally destroy last years garden right when our fruit started coming in. SO sad! Anyway, I am really unsure how we are using the fishing line…is it used from stake to stake horizontally or another way. Is it possible to share some visuals? I see other people asking the same thing and I think that would be very helpful.

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      March 15, 2021 at 7:33 am

      Sure, we’ll put up photos this week. It’s super simple: 4′ tall standard garden stakes firmly put into the ground around the perimeter of whatever garden beds you’re trying to protect with fishing line tied about 3′ off the ground between each stake.

  • Reply
    Lynette Hargrave
    March 9, 2021 at 11:18 am

    We have a large deer population in our neighborhood as well. We have tried the fishing line approach for the past 2 summers with our straw bale garden. We have 18 bales of straw. We used bamboo stakes that are at least 5 feet long, and we put them in the ground around the outside of the garden about 3 feet away from the bales. We then wrap the fishing line around the bamboo stakes at three different levels of height. We also attach some of those tiny wind chimes that you can find at the Dollar Store to each side of the garden fishing line. (4 for a square shaped garden) You could use empty cans that you connect with fishing line, etc. it just needs to be something that makes a sound when they bump into the fishing line while trying to reach your yummy garden plants! We do not make a door, we just have an area that it is easy for us to manipulate the fishing wire so that we can get in to take care of the garden. This method worked great the first summer that we tried it. The second summer the smaller deer figured out how to go under the fishing wire and get into the garden a couple of times. Make sure that your bottom row of fishing line is not too high. We are trying again this season with a fence and bamboo/fishing line combination.

  • Reply
    February 6, 2021 at 12:36 pm

    Hi Aaron. I too am not certain how to arrange the fishing line. I have a hay bale garden so my plants are 14″ off the ground to begin with. How would you suggest arranging the fishing line in this scenario. I have 16 bales, two lines of 8 bales each running parallel to each other. I appreciate your help. I just planted today and I don’t want the few deer we have to come munch on all the goodness not meant for them!

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      February 6, 2021 at 3:52 pm

      Hi Sandi! Not sure how much space you have around your hay bale garden or what your exact setup is. If you have plenty of space, you might want to hang your deer deterring fishing line on stakes 5-10′ outside of the garden. Hang it 3′ above the ground with pretty good tension on the line between each stake. If you don’t have much space and you need to hang the line atop your hay bales, I’d still hang it 3′ above ground or 2′ above your hay bales as far to the exterior of your bales as space allows for. Option 3: combine the first two setups so as to have two lines of defense (pun somewhat intended). Hope this helps and best of luck keeping deer out of your garden!

  • Reply
    June 12, 2019 at 11:44 am

    Please forgive the basic-ness of this question, but how exactly do you “install” the fishing line? Run it between stakes like a clear fishing line fence? tie them like a tassel so they blow in the wind? I’m at my wits end with the deer again this year. We have a 36′ picket fence they jump over to get to our vegetable garden and last night not only did they eat plentifully out of the garden, but they broke the fence on the way out!

  • Reply
    May 30, 2019 at 11:53 am

    Interesting. Do you have to keep the line up all the time?

  • Reply
    March 21, 2019 at 10:38 pm

    I tried the fishing line and it didn’t work for me, but may try again. I try to plant only things they will not eat. Perriwinkles (Vinca) trailing vinca, lambs hear, dusty miller and marigolds. I’ve found a smelly spray that I use and it somewhat helps. I have about 30 that come through my yard everyday.

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      March 22, 2019 at 9:34 pm

      30 deer come through your yard per day?! Wow, that’s a lot of deer; more of an infestation. Not sure anything would work given the degree of overpopulation there. Just out of curiosity: can you describe how you set up your fishing line protection? Height? Multiple levels? Single level? All the way around your yard or just on specific beds? Thanks!

      • Reply
        Gail Gardner
        May 23, 2019 at 4:59 pm

        On another site I read that you need multiple strings. They recommended the first one 2-3″ above the ground and then a foot apart up to 4-6 feet tall. I haven’t tried it yet, but I suspect you can run fishing line a longer distance between t-posts (50 feet perhaps) as long as you can keep the posts tight in the ground.

        • Aaron von Frank
          May 24, 2019 at 6:41 pm

          Could be, Gail! There may be more than one way to string a deer. 😛 The method described in this article is simply the one used by my dad after years and years of trying everything else without success. We also know farmers who do it. I don’t suppose it would hurt to hang the string at different levels. Regardless, good luck!

    • Reply
      dc gal
      March 17, 2020 at 2:46 pm

      I realize this is an old post, but we suffer the same…easily 30 a day from dusk to dawn. It is an infestation that the county is working to cull now with archery, something people still are fighting but there are more deer than food at this point and you can see some of them are starving. Anyway, the politics of it all aside…they even eat my azaleas! I have found very very little a ravenously hungry deer won’t eat! I’m up for trying to fishing line but worry about injuries…our 10 and 12 year old boys go tearing down our hill toward the wooded area where this line would be. :/ Maybe I won’t put it up…it’s just plants and certainly a far cry from a botanists oasis at this point.

      • Reply
        Aaron von Frank
        March 18, 2020 at 5:29 pm

        Yikes! Sorry to hear that. With that amount of deer population pressure, fishing line may not work to keep them away. Electric fencing might be the only option there, but not certain. (Obviously, that’s a pretty expensive approach.) Either way, if you want to try the fishing line approach, you’d hang it between small stakes that are quite visible to children and adults alike. Best of luck with whatever approach you take!

  • Reply
    July 22, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    Thank you for this! I read about the fishing line but wasn’t sure exactly how to execute it. Stakes,duh!! The deer have been feasting on nearly every plant in my yard on a nightly basis. They clearly have no aversions to anything in my yard. Crotons, agapanthus, Japanese blueberry….Their hooves have torn up the mulch. On my way to get the fishing line and stakes….the buck stops here!

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