Coffee Grounds to Keep Deer Away

Using coffee grounds to keep deer away may seem a little weird, but some homeowners have had really good success with this little-known tip!

If you’ve ever found yourself frustrated with those pesky deer munching on your precious garden, you’re not alone.

That’s why I’m sharing with you about a little secret weapon that might just do the trick – coffee grounds.

That’s right, those used coffee grounds from your morning cup of joe may actually be one of the most effective deer repellents!

So if protecting your flower or vegetable gardens is important to you, read on. You’ll find out how to protect your garden beds with something most people just throw in the trash.

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keeping deer away with coffee grounds

Do Coffee Grounds Keep Deer Away?

Now, you’re probably thinking – “Coffee grounds? Really?” There are many old wives’ tales and unreliable pieces of advice about how to keep deer away.

But after looking into this one, I think you’ll agree that it’s definitely worth a try!

Before we dive into how coffee grounds can deter deer, let’s take a step back and understand why these ravenously hungry deer seem so attracted to our gardens in the first place.

Deer are known to munch on just about anything they can get their hooves on. But they’re especially fond of tender new growth, succulent leaves, and fruit trees.

So, if you’ve got a garden full of fresh greens and ripe produce, you’re basically waving a red flag in front of a bull – or in this case, your local deer!

But why coffee grounds? Well, it all comes down to the strong scent.

Deer have a really strong sense of smell, and the strong, pungent odor of coffee grounds can be a real turn-off for them. In fact, many gardeners swear by the stuff as a natural deer repellent.

You could probably use fresh coffee beans or newly ground coffee to achieve a similar result. But at least with used grounds you get the added benefit of a hot drink!

There may not be much scientific evidence that used coffee ground are a strong deterrent to deer. But anecdotal reports from gardeners and lawncare enthusiasts suggest it’s at least worth a shot.

Coffee grounds are not the only (or even the very best) way to keep Bambi and friends out of your lawn.

However, the bitter scent can be at least one strategic part of a multi-pronged approach to protecting your plants and garden.

How to Use Coffee Grounds to Deter Deer

If coffee grounds really are such a great option, how exactly do you use them to overcome a deer problem?

It’s pretty simple, really. All you need to do is scatter your used coffee grounds around the perimeter of your garden or sprinkle them on your plants.

spreading coffee grounds to keep deer away

That’s right — instead of disposing of your fresh coffee grounds in the trash can, store them up in a resealable container or plastic bag.

Then once a week or so, take the used grounds outside and spread them around any part of your lawn or garden where deer have been seen.

Don’t store your grounds for much longer than a week, though, as they can get old and moldy.

You’ll get the best results by spreading a lot of grounds around (the more, the merrier). Deer can be pretty smart and will go after untreated areas to avoid the smell of coffee grounds.

The theory behind this approach is that the strong smell of the coffee grounds will mix with (and hopefully overpower!) the natural scents of your garden. This creates a fragrance that deer will find unappealing.

It’s worth mentioning that the bitter smell of coffee grounds aren’t a guaranteed deer-stopping solution – after all, no one can guarantee keeping deer away for good.

But, it’s truly a low-cost (as in free!), easy-to-use solution that’s definitely worth a try.

Plus, you get to reuse something that would otherwise end up in the trash. That’s a bonus!

Do Coffee Grounds Hurt Plants?

You might be wondering if coffee grounds will harm your plants or the environment. I’m glad you asked!

There are some differences of opinion about whether coffee grounds are good or bad for plants.

The general consensus seems to be that coffee grounds (at least in moderation) are fine to use around most plants. But a few precautions are still in order when using them on or around your plants.

Used coffee grounds are full of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium – all essential nutrients that help plants grow.

However, spent coffee grounds (just like the drink) are acidic. Because of this, in large quantities they could actually affect the pH of your soil, moving it in an acidic direction.

This might be fine for acid-loving plants like blueberries and azaleas. But for other plants like geraniums and clover, this might not be ideal.

So, to be on the safe side, spread the coffee grounds around the perimeter of your yard or away from young and tender plants. Otherwise, some plants might be affected by too much acid from the grounds.

Other Ways to Keep Deer Away

If you find yourself struggling to keep the deer away from your lawn and garden, it’s best to use multiple strategies — and not just rely on one like the pungent scent of coffee grounds.

The reality is that there is not just one single best deer repellent. Coffee grounds aren’t necessarily the best option in all cases — there are definitely other deer deterrents around.

Here are a few other natural solutions you might want to try to keep the deer and other lawn and garden pests away:

  • Bar soap: Hang bars of strongly scented soap (some people swear by Irish Spring soap) around your garden to deter deer. The scent of the bars of soap will mask the scent of your plants and make them less appealing to deer.
  • Human hair: Spread human hair around your garden. Deer associate the scent of humans with danger. If the deer catch of a whiff of people from human hair, that may scare them away from your property. If you cut your own hair (like we do in my family), you’ll have ready access to hair. You could also ask your local hair salon, or collect hair from your brushes.
  • Hot pepper sprays: Mix hot pepper flakes or cayenne pepper with water in a spray bottle to create a repellent spray that’s unappealing to deer. Spray the solution on your plants to keep deer at bay. You can also just use hot sauce or sprinkle cayenne pepper powder throughout your garden. Be careful, though, as getting hot pepper in your eyes and nose can be highly irritating!
  • Essential oils: Essential oils like cinnamon oil, cloves, and eucalyptus can be used to create a scent that deer find unappealing. Mix a few drops of essential oil with water and spray the solution on your plants.
  • Motion sensors: Several years ago my husband noticed that something kept coming into our garden during the night or early morning and munching on our vegetables. We’re not big coffee drinkers, so he researched ways to deter animals around the garden. He installed a few electronic repellents around the garden and they seemed to actually help! These sensors notice movement and then flash bright lights and/or send out sound waves thought to be annoying to animals. Some people also install a motion-activated sprinkler system. If you go that route, be sure to turn it off before people come nearby!
  • Wind chimes: To be honest, these probably won’t do much to keep deer away. But at least they sound nice!
  • Deer-deterring plants: Some gardeners have noticed that deer steer away from certain types of plants (the more aromatic, the better). You could try planting deer-resistant plants like geraniums, thyme and lavender in your flower beds and around the perimeter of your yard or garden to act as a natural repellent.
  • Electric fence: Some people have so many deer rampaging through their garden that they set up a tall fence or even an electric fence. One problem with this approach is that deer can leap really high. As deer can easily jump a six-foot fence, some fencing professionals recommend a 15-feet high fence to deter those athletic animals!
  • Liquid fence: As a last resort, some frustrated homeowners and gardeners have resorted to a chemical deer repellent to drive away those pesky ruminants. These premade repellents are usually made with putrescent egg solids. As you might expect, this is pretty stinky (imagine the smell of raw eggs left out in the sun), but it seems to really work to deter deer and rabbits. Apparently the scent is similar to that found in predator urine and droppings. When deer pick up a scent related to predators, they quickly flee the scene! You can also use wolf urine to achieve similar results.

Final Thoughts on Using Coffee Grounds to Keep Deer Away

Homeowners and gardeners can spend many hours of hard work carefully tending their lawn or beautiful garden, only to see it decimated in days — even hours — by ravenous deer.

I can speak from experience that this can be extremely frustrating!

Here I’ve gone over several of the most effective ways and natural solutions you can try to keep deer away from your garden.

But, if you’re looking for something that’s easy to use (and free), the pungent smell of coffee grounds are one of the best things to try.

By experimenting with one or more of these different methods, you’ll find the most effective deer deterrent that works best for your situation.


  1. I have also heard of fresh human male urine around the perimiter of the garden can also help deter pesky critters but must be redone on a regular basis, especially after a rain or such.

    1. Interesting! I don’t have experience with that, but I have heard of using coyote or other predator urine to deter deer.

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