How to Keep Nibblers From Your Garden!

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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!
EmDirr @
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 314 questions
  • 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 11, 2020

    What about squirrels?

  • Jane 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?

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2 of 659 comments
  • Virginia-Ted Rye Virginia-Ted Rye on Sep 05, 2022

    I put the soap in mesh bags that fresh produce comes in and hang them on a fence around the garden. I use a half bar of soap in each one.

  • Katheleen Katheleen on Sep 25, 2022

    I've done this for years now. It worked well but I have to "change up" with mouthballs for a few weeks than back to soap agin. They seem to get very who cares if I just use the soap. Now what do I do for all the chipmunk s? They'er destroying my bags of pellets we heat our home with. And something loves to munch on my Irish Spring! In the a.m. the one half bar I set out is always knawed on. For pet sacks give me a brack!!!