How do I keep deer and rabbits out of my garden?
First, let's look at the deer. Keep in mind that if deer are hungry enough, they'll eat almost anything. For best results, try a coordinated approach. Select plants that are rated as deer resistant and use a variety of deterrents like repellents or fences. For plants that deer will (hopefully) avoid, try yarrow, sedum, black-eyed Susan, purple coneflower, butterfly weed, Russian sage, Joe Pye weed, globe thistle, coral bells, lungwort and gas plants.
You can also try home-made or commercial repellents. Use them before the deer start eating and keep applying throughout the season. Human hair or slivers of deodorant soap scattered near the plantings may dissuade some deer. Or set up a 4- to 5-foot fence to protect some parts of your garden. The height around small areas seems to keep the deer out. Many of the black or green deer fences available at garden centers look like netting and provide protection without obstructing the view.
For rabbits, fencing it the best option. It may not be pretty, but it's the most effective way to keep plants in and rabbits out. The fence must be tight to the ground, have mesh small enough (like hardware cloth) to keep out baby rabbits and be at least 4 feet high.
Applying repellents before the animals start feeding in spring and again throughout the season also can provide some relief. For your safety, use repellents that are approved for use on fruits and vegetables. Some gardeners also report success using noise-makers, whirligigs and other moving or noisy devises to keep rabbits at bad. Ultimately, persistence and a variety of deterrents are the keys to convincing rabbits to dine elsewhere.