Do Deer Eat Basil? & 5 Ways to Keep Them Out of Your Garden

By: Chenell - Lead Writer and Gardening Advocate

It can be so frustrating coming out to the garden in the morning to find that some of your plants have been destroyed. Basil has such a strong flavor, it seems like pests wouldn’t want to eat it. But that’s not exactly the case.

So what could be the culprit here? If your basil plants have signs of damage and holes, it’s likely a bug or insect doing the damage.

Will Deer Eat Basil Plants?

In general, deer will not eat basil leaves as they’re very pungent herbs. However, deer are adaptive animals, so if they’re hungry enough and don’t find anything else nearby that’s more appetizing, they will even eat deer-resistant herbs.

What Do Deer Usually Eat?

Deer are a type of herbivore, so they mostly eat plants, trees, bushes, nuts, and acorns. This definitely includes quite a few vegetables and fruits the typical gardener might be growing.

Here are some deer favorites when it comes to fruits and vegetables:

  • Apples
  • Asparagus
  • Blackberry
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cauliflower
  • Collard Greens
  • Corn
  • Eggplant
  • Grapes
  • Kale
  • Lemon Trees
  • Lettuce
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Pumpkins
  • Potatoes
  • Raspberries
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Sunflowers
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon Plants
  • Yarrow
  • Zucchini

Basil is not a typical part of a deer’s diet and is often considered an example of deer-resistant plants. But, one of the more common basil companion plants is one of their favorite snacks: tomatoes.

This means that on their way to the tomatoes, it’s possible that they might either eat the basil, or step on it and ruin the plant.

But for the most part, basil is just one example of deer-resistant plants.

How to Keep Deer Away from Your Basil Plants

Here are some ways to deter deer from coming into your herb garden.

1. Installing a Fence

You might be thinking you can just put up any fence and deer won’t eat your garden.

Well, deer jump over fences up to 8 feet high, especially a hungry deer.

deer jumping fence
A 4 foot fence isn’t going to do you much good

You’ll need to make sure that the fence you’re using to keep deer out is at least 7-8 feet tall. Deer have been known to jump over anything shorter, especially if there are delicious plants behind the fence.

Grow More Deer Proof Plants

There is a long list of deer-resistant plants, but Russian sage is one of those plants deer hate. It’s a very aromatic herb that tends to repel deer.

Some other good examples are strong-smelling plants like chives, dill, lemon balm, lavender, and cilantro.

Motion Activated Sprinkler

This is one of my favorite methods for keeping deer out of the garden. Since deer can be a bit skittish when they hear loud noises or see a lot of movement, this can get them to run away pretty quick.

The Garden Enforcer - Motion Activated Sprinkler

A motion activated sprinkler works wonders for keeping animals (and people!) out of your yard. It sprays intermittently as it detects continuous motion so animals won't get used to the timing of it.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

I bought this motion-activated sprinkler and set it up around my raised bed.

Here is a video of it in action:



Hi - I'm Chenell! I lived in the city for almost a decade, but after moving to the suburbs in 2020, I decided the logical millennial thing to do was to learn how to grow my own avocado toast. That's what this site is all about. 🥑

You can get access to all of my free resources and get some epic dad jokes (and helpful gardening stuff) emailed to you each week by signing up here.

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