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Types of Deer Repellents Compared

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Defined by as, "causing distaste or aversion, repulsive; forcing or driving back, serving or tending to ward off or drive away", it is not hard to see why deer repellent products come in many shapes and forms. While there is a lot to be said for having many of choices, knowing that a deer can consume up to seven (7) pounds of flora in a day. As a gardener or homeowner, you need to be armed with knowledge when selecting an effective deer repellent product. It could be most important tool in your garden shed and educating yourself on the various types of repellents on the market will be one of the most beneficial activities of your growing season.


In the simplest terms, repellents come in two (2) categories, liquids and powders, each with its own characteristics. To give you an advantage over your deer problem a comparison of those products follows. Armed with knowledge of how those products work will guide you to choose the right type for your unique circumstance.

Liquid/Spray-on Repellents

Deer Off Liquid Deer Repellent

Liquid repellents are very popular and come in wide variety choices. As a repellent they, by definition, work by making whatever they are sprayed on, such as flowers, trees, fruits, etc. repulsive to deer. Spray-on deer repellents utilize taste and/or odor to repel the deer and can be very effective at keeping them from eating your landscaping. Most products are sprayed directly onto the flora you wish to protect and need to be reapplied often, especially after a rain event. They can be purchased singly or in bulk and may require special sprayers and equipment needed for application. Some of the common brands include

  • Deer Off – A topical spray using putrescent egg solids, garlic and capsaicin to repel using odor and taste.
  • Hot Pepper Wax – A spray -on using hot peppers to ward off browsing animals through taste.


Powder Repellents

Deer Off Liquid Deer Repellent

Powder repellents again, by definition, work by making your plants repulsive to deer and thus avert your yard. Powders are applied directly to the soil, plant or fence line and often work by using a foul odor as opposed to taste to keep deer from stopping by for an evening snack. Powdered repellents can be a very effective type of deer repellent. Well known brands of powder repellents include:

  • Plantskyyd – a powder concentrate using dried blood meal to repel using offensive odor.
  • Shake Away – a powder concentrate using the scent of coyote urine to repel through fear.
  • Shake-Away-a quick-tie packet with a powder concentrate using the scent of coyote urine to repel through fear.

In reviewing the lists of products above two (2) additional differences are important to discuss:

1. Mode of Repellent-The type of action used to repel the deer

In essence, the modes used to repel deer are based on repulsiveness, i.e. bad tastes and odors, or on fear.

Foul tastes are effective but only after the deer actually begin eating the plants, which sadly, could be too little, too late for your landscaping.

Foul odors work by stimulating the deer's excellent sense of smell which will detect the odor before the deer has jumped over your fencing and trampled your arborvitaes. However, a foul smell may or may not be effective depending on how hungry the animal is.

Fear based products use the scent of a predator and work to maximize the principles of Mother Nature. In fact, the adverse response of a prey animal to the marking scent of its predator is a widely known, scientifically tested reaction. Several studies have concluded that the use of fear as an animal repellent is more effective than other repellent methods, i.e. offensive tastes and smells.

2. Delivery Method- How the repellent is applied

The delivery methods for deer repellents include sprays, shaker cans and quick-tie packs. The most striking differences in delivery method is between spray-on deer repellents vs deer repellent packs. Spray-on repellents can involve purchasing additional equipment, tend to need to be reapplied often and can be just plain messy to work with. Shake-Away Deer Repellent Packs, on the other hand, use the effectiveness and cleanliness of a powder that is packaged in a quick- tie pack that can be used year round.

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