Repelling Deer Using Irish Spring Soap - A Test

White Oak Studio Designs
by White Oak Studio Designs
Country gardening can presents a number of challenges; among the most difficult “pests” for us here in our SW Michigan, Zone 5 garden are bugs, unpredictable weather and constantly browsing deer.
The "Battle of the Deer" at The Small House Under a Big Sky is an on-going one. And while you can try planting what are called “deer proof plants,” experience tells me a really hungry deer isn’t going to care what the nursery or catalog says about the plants; when they are hungry they eat. And they want my daylilies!
You’ll read that they don’t like leaves with different textures, strong smells or prickly plants, but beware this is what we humans have surmised. No one ever actually polled a deer!
There are organic sprays that are sold in garden centers that apparently put something onto the plant to deter the deer but when you have a large garden like we do, and frequent rain the act of spraying two and a half acres every few days just does not work without a paid gardener.
Fencing is ideal if you can afford it and have the right property for fencing. Through the years we’ve tried human hair and urine, a great product that is unfortunately no longer on the market called Deer-Vic. This year we are “testing” strong smelling Irish Spring soap cut in half, drilled with a hole and attached to a stake using a tie wrap.
Some Deer “Resistant” Plants to Consider:
Lambs ear (furry) hollyhocks, tansy (toxic), foxglove, oregano (strong flavored)boxwood, St. John’s Worts, Butterfly Shrubs, and leucanthemum. These plants are also resistant to pests and for the most part, are low maintenance. There are many other long lists of deer resistant plants on the Internet as well to peruse.
I’ll keep you posted as to what work best!
Irish Spring soap tied to wooden stakes using zip ties.
A closer view of our bird feeding bed with daylilies coming up. I staggered strong smelling soap in between clumps of our deer's favorite plant - my colorful and hardy daylilies!
The long view of one of our garden beds with stakes and soap.
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2 of 47 comments
  • Jackie Weitzel Jackie Weitzel on Sep 26, 2020

    I’ve been doing this for years, and it really works. For taller plants, I hang a half bar on a shepherd’s hook.

  • Lta27003209 Lta27003209 on Sep 04, 2022

    We buy a box of cheap ankle length nylons & put a bar of Irish Spring in each one, then tie to wooden stakes & even tie to branches in our aborvitaes to prevent deer damage. Has worked like a charm for 20 yrs. !