How to Keep Nibblers From Your Garden!

If your plants have started to peek above the surface, it's time to protect them from would-be grazers.
Tell Bambi the salad bar is closed with a sprinkling of some strong smelling soap!
We've been using using Irish Spring as a deterrent the for past few years with great success.
I can't guarantee it will work for everyone (or every species...we primarily have deer and rabbits), but I can say that when we've had hostas and DIDN'T use the soap we went to bed with beautiful foliage, and woke up to lonely leaf stems.
Head to the supermarket and buy a 12-pack of soap.
We have a lot of yard, a lot of deer, and a few nice neighbors to share with, so I usually purchase three big packs and make extra.
Take out your food processor and using the shredder attachment....
...shred some 'Spring.
Then, spread some 'Spring around your garden!
The strong scent wards off critters and has protected our plants. Refresh with a new sprinkling every two to three weeks or after a heavy rain.
One 12-pack loosely fills my processor bowl three times.
How far it goes depends on the size of your garden and how liberally you spread it. We apply it as shown above, then just add a little more on occasion to freshen the scent.
(FYI: You might want to break out the vinegar to aid in cleaning up your food processor. No one wants soapy tasting cranberry-orange relish at Thanksgiving!)
I called a local cooperative extension to clarify.
The helpful person noted that she also uses soap to protect her own plants with success...but thought that "excessive" use over a period of 10 years might have some effect. She did not think it was harmful to the plants.
WOW! Ya'll have some variety of wildlife :) I'm sorry that some of your questions were beyond my experience. I didn't answer at first hoping that someone with additional experience or info might jump in (and thank you to those who did) sorry if anyone thought I was ignoring them. All I can say is we've been thrilled with this remedy where we've used it...and by many of the supportive comments, so have a lot of you. Happy Gardening!
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EmDirr @

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 314 questions
  • Shannon Patterson-McMains
    Shannon Patterson-McMains
    on Jun 4, 2020

    Will the soap keep squirrels from digging up around in the dirt in my potted rhododendrons and Japanese maple? It's looking for nuts and digs in all the pots.

  • Rita Linn
    Rita Linn
    on Jun 12, 2020

    What about squirrels?

  • Jane
    on Aug 11, 2020

    Doesn't the soap eventually dissolve and build up in the soil? I know a little detergent in a spray bottle can discourage insects, but wouldn't that much soap eventually get into the soil and kill the plants?

    • EmDirr @
      EmDirr @
      on Aug 11, 2020

      Honestly, hasn’t been a problem at all for my plants. I am taking a year off, though... a friend gave me a bag of milorganite. It’s pretty strong smelling, and they don’t seem to be interested.

Join the conversation

5 of 656 comments
  • Connie
    on Apr 16, 2020

    You can sprinkle dog hair around your garden and plants. It keeps bunnies and deer away

  • Stan
    on May 7, 2020

    I have been using soap for a few years now, but instead of shaving it I drill a hole in the bar and hang it from a shepherds hook. I do this in the winter also to keep the deer from eating my blueberry bushes.

    • Donna
      on May 20, 2020

      I cut off chunks and put it in cheese cloth and hang it on my young trees to keep the bucks from rubbing in them.

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