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


Have a question about this project?

3 of 307 questions
  • Wilk
    on Jul 31, 2019

    What about snakes?

  • Ruth McPherson
    on Sep 21, 2019

    Any suggestion how to keep the soap bits around my cedar bushes in the winter? Last year, the deer chewed off the tips of all my cedars - and I'm barely getting them back to life. I was thinking, could I bag up some of the soap pieces inside the netting (like for oranges or onion bags) and hang it within the cedar? Pieces on the ground won't do it - the snow will cover the ground - I'm in Maine!

    • Imelda
      on Nov 23, 2019

      I slice the soap into mini bars and poke it with barbecue sticks and hang them few into my the summer i stake them into the grounds as well, it works for me! Some bushes i place 4 metal garden stakes and wrapped them with garden plastic kind if chicken wire ( flexible ones) and made it bambi free!! Wirea are Less obtrusive since its black!😂

  • Sally De Silva
    on Feb 6, 2020

    Is the Irish Spring soap likely to ward off cats as well. I have a neighbor with several cats, and to put it mildly, they make a mess in the yard.

Join the conversation

4 of 648 comments
  • Susan Stalls Cannady
    on Jul 15, 2019

    Irish Spring works for me ... I had deer eating my hydrangea, begonia, rose, and day lily blooms, along with demolishing my hostas. I just cut the soap into small chunks with a knife and spread the chunks around all the plants that the deer like to eat. I still see deer in my yard often, but they are not eating my blooms now.

  • Nancy Bentley
    on Jul 15, 2019

    It did make the garden smell good, but didn't stop the deer from eating my lily buds. What has helped is putting worlie gigs in the garden.

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