Perennials are springing up everywhere. And the herbivores are loving it. The hostas pictured above are always the first course. Around here, the biggest culprit of garden dining are deer. Don’t believe me? I took the following picture of our backyard two years ago. Apparently, we are living in the Grand Central Station for the Bambi crowd.
Garden stores sell various deer and rabbit deterrents, but most are topical treatments that have to be applied after each rain or even heavy dew and, generally, they’re expensive. Since many are based on smells (a popular one is coyote urine), it’s not surprising a non-appetizing, odoriferous, rainproof thing such as Irish Spring keeps the critters at bay. $13.89 for 12 on Amazon.
Just cut a bar into cubes, wrap the cubes in scraps of cloth, and staple them onto stakes.
Drive the stakes in among the tantalizing vegetation. I also cut smaller bits to scatter along the ground.
Yes, the yard smells ‘refreshing’ and no, the soap doesn’t suds up during a rain. Last year, I did the stake trick at the beginning of the year, but replenished my scattered pieces once a month or so. Together, they seemed to do the trick; the deer left my plants alone.
Here are 11 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Mice, and our best DIY Fruit Fly Trap.
CATS! can be curbed by throwing moth balls in the garden (not flakes). Try to find the old fashioned stinky ones. Many today are scented to block the real scent that will keep cats out.
It bothers me slightly that we are using something most of our husbands clean their delicate skin with as a pest deterrent.
Moth balls are poisonous to animals and to children….they should not be used in the garden!
I heard if you put dried egg shells ariund your plants, it keeps slugs away.
Yes , i do kno the egg shell trick works for slugs and worms!my sister has done it for years.
Thanks for the irish spring trick, for mine is cats wanting to dig.. used to be able to buy a plant that smelled like skunk that would keep them out but i havn’t been able to find it in the past cple of years.
How about dogs? Every year my sister brings her unruly dog to my house and he eats all my tomatoes, were talking whole plants ruined! The rest of the wild life in my yard stays away on their own.
What about ground hogs?
Will try, have tried everything else !
I always heard egg shell is great calcium for the earth..now on to my real question, can this be done for a regular garden? without the tomatoes and other fruits and vegs tasting like irish spring?
This does NOT work! I put it all around my tulips…needless to say, I have no tulips…they have been eaten to the ground!
how far apart do you stake the irish spring apart? my garden 50 x 50 how much do i need?
@Michelle–That’s a HUGE garden!! I put our stakes about 2 feet apart, but the area was tiny in comparison. If you’re looking to keep deer out specifically, I’ve had good results with stringing that thin ‘caution’ tape around the veg garden. (You can find it at your local big box store.) At every few feet, I tied 1′ stringers of the tape to let it flutter in the wind. It worked great as the deer were scared (I guess?) of the fluttering.
does this help deter squirrels in the vegetable garden as well?
What about squirrells? they love our purple pansies.
What about armadillos?
I use Deer Away…from Liquid Fence. Sure works well for us. Save the bags from your onions or netting works just as well for irish spring or even hair from the hair salon. Take a baggie with you to collect the hair. Put the hair in the net bags as well. egg shells work in your garden as calcium for the plants if you put water over them (after using the eggs of course) and let sit for 3 days then pour on your plants. Happy Gardening
I’m going to try the Irish Spring trick but, I’ve seen this tip on many forums and no one has mentioned the chemicals in the soap. Do I really want my tomatoes soaking up the residue after a rain? Does anyone have input on this?
Before you consider doing this, understand that this is not an organic solution to the problem. Irish spring contains chemical compounds and anti-bacterial chemicals that will harm the fragile microbial environment in your soil. A healthy garden is dependent on the living bacteria and fungi that transport water and nutrients. There are better solutions.
If you have skunks they are going after grubs…do a grub treatment an the skunks will move on.
@MHobart – OK – maybe it Irish Spring isn’t ‘organic’ but the only micro-organisms that are going to die are the ones on the stake, because when it rains any soap that dissolves will melt into the post and any soap that makes it down the post will disturb the soil a couple inches around the post – the garden will be fine. Having said that, I find that red pepper flakes deter the smaller mammals.
apparetly doesnt work on married pests LOL
We used one of the sprays with success and then it stopped working. A neighbor told us to mix 1/4 c. Milk and 3/4 cup water and to spray it on anything they were eating while it was sunny. Haven’t eaten a thing since! (Now that I’ve written this they will mow them down tonight!)
We are having a terrible problem with wild hogs rooting up our fields. It’s just natural growth fields, nothing planted, put the rooted up earth makes it very difficult to run a tractor to bush hog the weed growth. Any ideas?
Pepper flakes, or ANY hot type of pepper/spices are VERY cruel to mammals. If you’re into torturing just to keep your flowers/gardens, as opposed to other methods, then fine. Squirrels and other mammals WILL get the pepper into their eyes and are UNable to wash it out. It burns and hurts them terribly. Please don’t use this method. I no longer plant pansies (mine & squirrel’s favorites) I plant flowers the squirrels will not eat.
The soap gets to the plants won’t it be Toxic if you’re planting edible stuff?
This is permanently there unlike pesticides
To avoid contamination of the ground AROUND the stake, put the stake in a container. A large bucket with sand and rocks?
get human hair from a beauty parlor, put it in a hairnet had hang it from low limbs or a rod of some sort…where the breeze can circulate the smell of humans…also narrow , long strips of plastic…I use lawn trash bads..tied to rods or limbs …the movement and noise of the snapping plastic has for several seasond deterred the deer…the deer avoid the unusual and take a different path through the area…this is in a neighborhood…Jan S
to avoid the irish spring in the soil, put the stake thru an old container first (butter or yogurt) and put putty around the opening to seal it. Should work except in rainy season when you might have to remove the stakes because the containers overfill. that way, you shouldn’t even have to replace the soap (it will melt into the dish where it will still stink), and the container keeps the soil clean.
Does this only repel deer? Does it repel other critters? Does it repel bugs?
hmmm. I just seen where a mouse had gotten into my gas grill!!! Yuck in the biggest way. I am going to try to put a bar of Irish Spring on the shelf.
To avoid the soap residue getting into the soil, try putting the soap under an overturned container. (give it an umbrella).
If I had deer visiting my yard like in that pic, I plant as much as possible FOR them to eat!!!!
pee in your corners of garden. critters don’t like human scent.
Sorry….but none of these work. I tried them all including the soap and red pepper flakes!
murphys oil soap and water. about 1/2 cup murphys oil soap and the rest water in spray bottle. spray on hostas. will not kill plants and keeps the deer from eating the plants. spray once a week or after it rains. I even sprayed my hydrangea flowers and the deer stayed away.
Wrap the Irish spring in dryer sheets and hang. They don’t like that smell either. I have even just hung up dryer sheets and that kept the deer away.
Thanks for the tip, I will try it. I always wondered what was eating my hosta! Do you have any tricks to keep racoons out of the trash?
The deer, bunnies and I have had a battle over my tulips for years. Liquid Fence worked to some degree but it smells awful and I would forget to reapply it after a rain. One day I took a cheese grater and a bar of Irish Spring outside and left soap flakes on the mulch around the plants. That was the first spring I came out the winner. Deer/bunnies – 0, me – 30 beautiful red tulips!
@MN retiree…fabulous to hear from a fellow Minnesotan who tried the Irish Spring trick! I do love my bunnies and deer, but, yes, they are a scourge on gardens everywhere here. 🙂
Does this only work for animals? What about bugs?
I tried this and unfortunately it did NOT work. The only natural deer deterrent I have found is human hair.
I tied a couple of balloons on about a foot of string on my young mimosa trees that the deer kept munching on. It worked. Blowing in the wind freaked them out. It may work elsewhere.
These deer are not Bambi ! They are pests and disgusting.. besides urinating and defecating all over the yard, they have diseases ! Keep them away from yard and gardens as best as possible! These creatures just destroyed 32 Indian Hawthornes in my front yard ! I will try the Irish Spring method… I’ve tried the pepper method and obviously didn’t hurt them too bad as they came back for more ! So no feeling sorry for them
Got a question. Allthese sound like good ideas, but I don’t have a garden like my neighbors. My problem is: I have a field next to me and I get mice and snakes in my house at times. Had 5 snakes in the last couple years. I have put traps in the garage with peanut butter and have not seen a mouse since. Worked for last year. Now, about the snakes——–I have Snake Away that I put around the house every month or two when really nice weather hits. That does the trick. But like the one guy, sometimes I forget. Will Irish Spring work for them, too? It sure would be cheaper than the snake away I use.
I used the soap method and some years it worked and other years no so much. I think know you have to put the soap out at a certain time. Either way, we just installed an 8th deer fence around my veggie garden coz I was going crazy with the deer.
What can I do to repel cats? I have a ton of strays in my neighborhood that for some reason like using my yard for their litter box.
I have always had cats and not much trouble with strays. Mine are inside cats. Went the route with them being outside before. The best thing I know is to get a dog. I am not trying to be funny, that is the best I know. I also would like to know how to get rid of ground moles. They have a whole field and insist on using my yard. My Brother says I have good grubbs. I Don’t want good grubbs. I want a desent yard.
i have ground squirrels, will it work on them,I try anything
In most areas people have built and built and pushed the deer out of their homes. I know they do a lot of damage. I have pesky chipmunks and I fill a five gallon bucket half full of water. They get in and can’t get out…not pretty but they are soon gone! Rabbits are awful!
I use bugright. It is all natural and works on bed bugs to scorpions, and even snakes. I found it in Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri and Kansas. It took care of all crawling insects and safe around the children and pets.
Do you know if this would work for skunks?
Pat – Snakes don’t like the smell of garlic. Place cloves around your property n it may help.
Will this work for bunnies? I have a bunny issue in my garden big time.
I have been using Irish spring soap for years. Last year I put pieces in little green organza bags from michaels and hung from garden stakes. I still spread it on the ground also. My problem is the big black birds pick up pieces and drop them all over the neighborhood!
Snake away is expensive, it’s nothing more than ground up mothballs. Mothballs are cheap and last longer. Pump mint oil once a week in enclosed area and the rats/mice will stay away, also plant mint, lemon balm, etc… don’t use mint oil around cats, they metabolize differently and it’s toxic.. also birds
Moles drop hot peppers down hole
Anything for lizards in your house?
Does the soap upset the birds I have a bird feeder and the squirrel are always stealing the bird food I would like to get rid of the squirrel but not the birds.
Any idea on how to get rid of guinea hens? I mean, other than shooting them. Bee Bees are useless. They bounce off. The hens Turn and look at you and hollor. They eat all my bird seed and nuts for my squirrels. I don’t mind them eating the bugs—wish they would go for the ground moles———-, but they have a feist at my house if I put out seed, nuts or bread for the others.
What about frogs. I have a pond and the freak me out. Won’t turn bird off , will it? The birds I want to keep in the yard
Lat I heard frogs are a part of nature that gets along with all or most creatures. My Brother-in-Law has a small pond and he has no problem with frogs or toads scaring away the bird. They live in harmony in his back yard. Know someone with a small pond and the even have fish in it with no problem.
We have tied old CD’s into trees to keep the deer away. They don’t like the reflection. Also scatter human hair around your plants, most animals don’t like that. Snakes are a pain. The only thing that I have found that works is to use a mouse sticky trap by your doors, yes it will kill them.
Does the Irish Spring affect the plant’s taste?
You put the Irish Spring into a cheese cloth or porus bag. Tie it to a stake. It never touches the plants.
I live on the edge of the woods and have deer, turkeys, chipmunks, squirrels, etc. You name it, we have it! When I planted my garden a number of years ago, I planted garlic & chives around the perimeter. I have NEVER had the first thing touched by critters, yet they will walk right up to the edge! I find hoof marks all over but they leave the garden alone. Chives are green year round and very pretty as a border…and indestructible. I even cut them back to the ground periodically. Just make sure to cut the flowers (which are pretty and smell great) before they turn to seed????
Thanks. Will let my 2 neighbors know. We have deer, rabbits, guenie hens, etc here. Maybe it will even work on them. The main problem we have are the guenie hens and rabbits.
Is this safe to use if you have dogs that are out wondering in the yard?
@Anon–I’d let the pups take a sniff and see if they like the smell enough to try to chomp or lick the bar. I’m guessing they won’t–Irish Spring is VERY pungent. If they turn their noses from it, literally, you should be good to go!
Does it work for garden snakes too??
Is the garlic and chives safe for dogs around the garden? Also, will it work on snakes, too?
Garlic and onions are toxic to dogs and cats. That said, I’ve got to yard cats and a dog who never even show any interest in it so it’s never been an issue. If you have a pet who eats or chews on everything, I wouldn’t go that route! Also, I have seen 1 or 2 small garden snakes…but that is total over about 5 or 6 years.
Pat-glad you asked about the garlic onions with pets! Because it’s a vegetable garden, my dog is inside, and the cats are two strays I have then in that showed up a year ago, it never crossed my mind to check the toxicity of those plants. Even though they are classified as toxic to cats and dogs (found out yesterday when you asked!) I can say with certainty that NO animal has shown any interest in them and has steered very clear of my garden! So, at least it’s not one of those they like that’s toxic????
Thank You. My neighbor has a dog that is outside a lot of the time and a cat that is outside most of the time.
Can you put it in a herb garden? And will it affect the taste of my herbs?
You definamely could but I don’t know for sure if it would affect the taste of the herbs. I highly doubt it would since it’s a form of garlic. I’ve grown many types of vegetables right beside it without it causing any change of flavor. When they start to get too bushy, I just cut toothed back. Word to the wise: wash water you cut them back with before storing the tool and don’t use a lawnmower! If not, you’ll smell chives for an eternity!
Ugh! Gotta love auto correct! That was “wash the tool you cut them with”. This is also assuming you are asking about the chives…not the soap. Sorry!
Sorry, I meant put the soap shavings in a herb pot. Would it taste soapy?
does not work
How about one for slugs. they get many of my flowers and garden.
Crushed egg shell scattered around plants work great. Clue pennies down to creat a barrier, they don’t like copper. There are lots of natural solutions for slugs. And by the way, the Irish Springs idea has been working for us. Thanks to this, we are able to remove the cages from around our newly planted fruit trees! Normally the deer would have chewed them down to a nub, but the soap trick seems to be keeping them away! So happy because the cages made it difficult to weed and mulch around the trees.
a freezer goes well with deer problems.for slugs,either salt them when you find them or sttract and drown them in beer in lids.
would this work with frogs? i live in Miami, Fl.; we’re surrounded by water…
I’m desperatey looking for groundhog control. I happen to think they’re cute but I know my husband has has enough of the vegetable garden being wrecked. Would the Irish Spring work? Or any other nonviolent methods of repelling him (Oscar, the groundhog) not my husband 🙂
Vicki, That was funny. You have had that groundhog around so long, you have named him. Like the part about the groundhog verses the husband in solutions.
Our neighbors chickens roam freely into our yard eating our strawberries and other garden plants. Will this keep them out or foes anyone have any other suggestions besides a fence or fried!
Does it workfor raccoons? We live in the country and have a problem with them pooing on our deck eventhough there is no food or garbage there. and we clean the drip pan in the grill after each use.
Will this trick keep bugs away? Mainly stupid squash bugs!!?
Anyone have a rat deterrant?
How does it work for spiders and mice in he house? I was told it works really good.
Spiders hate cincinnamon. I have cincinnamon brooms in the corners of my basement. They work rather well. I would think it would work with cincinnamon oil, too. You may have another problem with just cincinnamon. As for mice, I set some inexpensive, wood traps with creamy peanut butter spread all over the one end. Believe it or not, I actually caught 2 in one tray. Sure wish I had taken a picture of that. Peanut butter always woked for me. I do think, however, that they are going to trap school. When I used cheese, they ate the cheese and didn’t set ff the trap. When I started using peanut butter (very little), they got the peanut butter and didn’t set off the trap. Now I plaster the on end with it and it really works. Between the spiders, mice and snakes I have had in my basment————-They finally got the message that they must go back to the field next to me.
What about Squash Bugs?
Don’t have squash bugs. May ask my neighbor, when I can catch them home. The have squash in their garden. I have told you about ants, spiders, mice, and snakes. I can’t tell you, right now, about squash bugs.
I see alot of discussions here, but I only see one comment that the Irish Spring is helping to keep away deer. And one comment that says “doesnt work” from May 17th.. not sure what that is referring to. Can alyone else confirm that Irish Spring stakes keep away deer all season (Spring,summer & Fall) ??
I have hung Irish Spring inside my car/truck motor area to keep mice and Squirrels from eating my motor wiring!!!
@Tosh–Yes, Irish Spring does work. (Still use it every year since writing this post.) It’s best to use some stakes (could even hang it in muslin bags in trees) for higher plants, as well as scattering chunks (about 1″ x 1″ will do) on the ground. Don’t skip either. One chunk every 3 feet isn’t going to work. A chunk every foot–or less–is the way to go. Think about how many bars you think you’d need and double it. 🙂 Seriously, though, it’s cheap and it’s far less vile-smelling than faux–or real–coyote urine.
Thanks Mayven for replying. I have 1 1/2 acre and half of it is gardens. SO you can undertsand what a job it willbe ot place peices of tehbars every 1 foot apart. The picture of your stakes look liek they are not that close to each other. how far aparts do the stakes have to be ? These deer have eaten plants and flowers this year that they ahve never eaten before adn I have been here for over 10 years. So frustrating. But, I will try your method and see how it goes. Where did you find your stakes ?
@Tosh, you’re seeing stakes across from each other, not side by side, which are pretty close. We fashioned a Stonehenge-like stake ring round the hosta garden that way.
We made our stakes out of leftovers from another build.
As far as the deer eating stuff they’ve never done before, I feel for you. They’ll eat anything if they’re hungry. If you want to keep the deer out of your entire yard, yeah, that’s going to take a lot of Irish Spring! Depending upon where you live and how understanding your neighbors are, another trick that works quite well is stringing plastic florescent tape (like crime scene tape) around your yard on poles or from tree limbs. When the tape flutters in the wind, it scares the deer. We did this one year to keep them out of the vegetable garden–strung tape around it kind of like streamers. You can find the tape at Home Depot and etc.
Thanks for the tips Maven. My Mother in law puts the Irish Spring into a spray bottle with water and sprays her plants… she says it seems to work too. She told me about this before I read your post. I will try what I can and let you know how I do. Thanks again.
Another thing that works, but not sure of every anianl is stakes and colored foil wrapping paper cut into strips. Saw a place that has them every so often through out his field. The strps flutter in the breeze and shine with the sun and he has blueberries and no problem with any animals around here. We have mice, deer, skunks, racoons, etc.
I use ground black pepper on my plants…..havent had a problem with deer or rabbits since i started using it. Even after rain, some of the grains remain as well as the scent. I buy it at the Dollar store!
Does the irish spring work to keep cat’s away?
I used a homemade mixture of egg, oil, milk and water and sprayed it on my tender plants. WOW. No more animals eating my plants! I do spray again after a heavy rain but it’s cheap and easy and works!
To kill squash bugs anywhere in your garden, use 1 tablespoon of liquid regular dish soap to 1 gallon water. I use it in my sprayer, I spray them and they fall off within 1 minute dead, you can pick the squash bugs off and put them in a bucket with the mixture and it will kill them with in 4 minutes. I saw this on You Tube last year and tried it this year, works GREAT. A friend said when she lived on the farm they use to throw their dish soap out on the flowers and in the garden to kill the bugs…
Seven works as well!
Does anyone know how to get rid of squirrels? Ground squirrels and grey tree squirrels.
The ground squirrels have so many holes it’s becoming hard for me to even mow. Then my dog makes the holes even larger trying to catch the squirrels. She’s just never realized that they always have a back door, also.
The grey tree squirrels get my pecans before they even have a chance to ripen for the most part. I know everything has to eat, but I haven’t harvested one pecan in the last two years. Because of their location, there is no way to keep the squirrels from getting in the trees, and I tried tieing the different colored plastic ribbons in as much of the tree I could reach with a ladder. Didn’t help.
I tried mothballs in the ground squirrels holes, but they just threw them back outside by the next morning.
There are many plants that repel deer and I KNOW it works. The gardens on the campus where are work are NEVER bothered by the deer on campus! The many gardens, including a large rose garden, are never touched by the deer.
Yes – please more info about rat deterrent. Will try Irish Spring under the truck hood for mice/wiring problem. Brilliant! Thank you
Works for me!
Is irish spring effective for keep squirrel out of garden as well? any suggestion?
for squirrels get a .22 rifle and shoot them like deer. they make a great meal fried up or baked to go with your fresh veggies. waste not, want not .
I sprinkle Irish Spring chips in with my wool blankets and garments for storage and even put it in the pockets of wool coats that are hanging in my closet. So far, so good for repelling moths.
I hung pieces of irish spring on my tomatoes after deer started chompin them. for a while I got no more chomps. I got complacent and forgot to put more irish spring on the taller new growth. Well, soon the new growth got chomped but not the lower leaves where the bars still hung. So yeah, it keeps them from chomping but it has to be very near the plant for the smell to deter. so keep it high and low. I just hung it with yarn on various branches and on the trellis near the leaves. Also bird netting helps.
Does IRISH SPRING work to deter ground hogs? They like my backyard…ugh!
I’m going to guess this tactic, Irish Soap, deters bunnies as well. Anyone try it for hungry hosta loving rabbits?
you should probably research your animal pest to see if smell is an important part of their food hunting because it is the strong smell that deter deer. I don’t know if rabbit and moles are smell sensitive but I’m sure a bit of googling will help you find out. Mice apparently don’t like mint. and some insects are turned off by rosemary. I notice that when my plants are being munched none of my basil or mint are ever chewed by deer. so you have to find out what theyd don’t like the smell of
Plant mint in areas you don’t mind if it takes over, like around chicken coops, along a building etcerta to keep rodents out, mice, squirrels, rats etc.
That’s what I wanted to know if Irish Spring works on ground hogs? I think that is what is eating my Asiatic Lilies I didn’t even get to see some of them bloom because they ate them before they could bloom. 8^(
Thanks if it works.
I have opossums that poop in my plant pots. That is gross! I won’t eat the tomatoes or strawberry’s if they have. Do you think that will stop them too?
If you don’t like Irish Spring, Ivory bar soap works just as well.
What about moles and chipmunks?
Do you have any ideas for Voles. they ha eaten my beans 3 times so far. attack from underneath Worried about my potatoes
Voles have very sensitive senses of smell, but they are also low on the natural food chain, so I didn’t want to use a toxin that might then be passed onto another predator I wasn’t targeting (like the neighbor’s dog or cat). I bought a bag of garlic bulbs, and made a slurry in a blender of the raw garlic and as many various aging pepper and hot sauces as I could dig out of the back of my pantry. Strained it and put it in a sprayer – then sprayed the lawn with the stuff, then made more batches and stuffed cotton balls soaked with the stuff into every hole I could find. My yard stank to high heaven for a couple of days, but I haven’t had a vole since.
I cut up a half dozen bars of IS,wrapped them in cheese cloth and tied them to my fruit trees. Last year the deer ate all of the new growth that they could reach. Last week I went out to check my trees and saw that there was no sign of deer damage but most of the IS was gone. A few pieces of the string were still attached to the limbs but the soap and cheesecloth were nowhere to be found.The only conclusion I can reach is that the deer ate the Irish Spring. I hope it cleaned them out.
we bought Irish spring soap today and shaved off 2 bars and spread those all over my house and I also had some very strong peppermint oil that we spread all around too. We will order more after Christmas . We do have the plug in to keep mice away but they are not working anymore after 15 months they usually go out.. all mine did ……. this time 15 months…….. I went get some glue v traps and hope to catch some on that but I hope it will only be the one we saw that we catch…….. I am deathly afraid of those type critters…….YUCK
we bought Irish spring soap today and shaved off 2 bars and spread those all over my house and I also had some very strong peppermint oil that we spread all around too. We will order more after Christmas OF THE PLUG INS . We do have the plug in to keep mice away but they are not working anymore after 15 months they usually go out.. all mine did ……. this time 15 months…….. I went get some glue traps and hope to catch some on that but I hope it will only be the one we saw that we catch…….. WE ALSO ARE USING 3 REAL OLD FASHION MOUSE TRAPS……..I am deathly afraid of those type critters…….YUCK
Does anyone know if spreading Irish Spring small chips on soil around evergreens harm the tree ?
I bought a honey badger and keep him staked up near my garden. No more deer, no more salesmen either.
For deer who love
Hoasta plants. Pee In a container and that worked. After a few days do it again. I heard it worked for snakes and rats
What about raccoons? I feed stray cats so I don’t want to get rid of them, but the raccoons also come to eat the cat food which drives me crazy! What gets rid of the ‘coons but leaves the cats alone?