How to Keep Animals From Eating the Roses

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Animals such as deer damage rose plantings.
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It's a beautiful summer morning. You grab a cup of coffee and decide to enjoy it while taking a stroll through your lovely garden. You're feeling calm and at peace when suddenly you see it — some animal ate your roses (​Rosa​ spp.) again. If this story sounds all too familiar, take heart. There are several ways you can deter plant-destroying critters and keep animals from eating the roses while continuing to live in harmony with nature and the environment.

Install a Fence

Installing a physical barrier isn't foolproof, but it is one of the most effective ways to keep rose-munching critters at bay. This is especially true of deer, which often snack on roses.

Remember that deer can jump quite high. If they're the problem, make sure your new fence is at least 8 feet tall. If you have trouble with squirrels and rodents, add chicken wire to the bottom of your fence, digging a trench and installing it at least 6 inches into the ground. Otherwise, rodents will simply dig under your fence.

If you don't like the look or lack of curb appeal that comes with an 8-foot fence, consider purchasing a special black propylene deer fence. Mounted on stakes that sit 15 feet apart, this type of fencing stops deer but isn't highly visible at a distance.

Make Them Smell

Roses smell quite lovely, and that can be a problem. One way to deter pests is to make them smell less attractive. To do so, you can spray predator urine around your roses or let your dog do his business near them. The smell of predators will make deer and other animals wary and can keep them away from your plants.

If sprinkling pee around your lovely roses sounds unappealing, you can try other scents. Drop some of the hair your dog sheds or even some of your own hair around the roses instead. Some gardeners swear that planting mint, cloves or garlic near the roses creates enough of an odor to keep animal visitors at bay. Others hang used air fresheners in or near their rose bushes. Some report that hanging an old pair of nylons full of bar soap remnants also does the trick.

Remember that smells get washed away in the rain. You'll have to reapply your chosen scent after it rains for continued protection.

Try Getting Physical

Many animal deterrents are available commercially, and you can always try making your own. These products work by moving, making noise or shooting a jet of water when an animal gets too close. Sprinklers and noisemakers tend to be the most effective methods but be careful if you opt for a noisemaker. Your neighbors may not appreciate your efforts if your noisemaker disturbs them or their pets as well as the local wildlife.

When using these types of physical deterrents, remember that you may have to move them or change them often. Eventually, the more ambitious creatures in your garden will get used to these devices and learn to ignore them. You may need a variety of devices.

Make Them Taste Bad

Animals keep coming back to your rose bushes for the same reason people keep eating chocolate: It tastes amazing. If you make your roses taste bad, animals will learn to leave them alone. A simple pepper spray is all you need to protect your roses.

You can use a recipe of 1 cup of water, three eggs, 1/3 cup of hot sauce and 1/3 cup of liquid dish soap. Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle and give your rose bushes a good soaking. The peppery, soapy taste will deter most rose-eating animals, including deer.

You'll need to reapply the mixture after it rains, and you should wear gloves and goggles when you do. The hot sauce can burn your eyes or sting your skin if you have any cuts or open wounds.

If You Can't Beat 'Em...

If you've tried everything you can think of and your flowers still get eaten, consider calling a truce. Simply pick a spot in your yard that's well away from your rose bush and put some food there. You can leave bird seed for squirrels and other rodents. You can also leave corn, oats or commercial deer feed if deer are the culprit.

The hope is that the animals will opt for the easy food and leave your rose bushes alone. Before you do this, make sure it's legal in your area. Some states have strict rules about baiting wild animals, especially deer. Also recognize that you're taking on a responsibility. If wild animals learn to rely on you for food, you need to keep feeding them so they don't starve if you suddenly stop.


Home is where the heart is, and Michelle frequently pens articles about ways to keep yours looking great and feeling cozy. Whether you want help organizing your closet, picking a paint color or finishing drywall, Michelle has you covered. If she's not puttering in the house, you'll find her in the garden playing in the dirt. Her garden articles provide tips and insight that anyone can use to turn a brown thumb green. You'll find her work on Modern Mom, The Nest and eHow as well as sprinkled throughout your other online home decor and improvement favorites.

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