Do Coffee Grounds Keep Deer Away? (Is It A Good Repellent)

Deer may seem innocent, but they can create chaos in your garden and other plant life.

It can be frustrating to deal with animals, especially when they are damaging your precious garden, and you are probably looking for ways to make them stop.  

Coffee grounds are often used to deter wildlife from coming near your plants, but do they work for deterring deer?

In this guide we'll answer that question, and give you some useful deer deterrent tips.

Deer have a strong sense of smell, which means that the bitter smell of coffee grounds can be used to keep deer away from your property. 

However, there is no scientific evidence to prove that coffee grounds repel deer, but ground coffee does exude a bitter odor that can support deterring deer nearby your home.  

Sprinkling coffee grounds on your garden bed close to your plants and trees can also help to keep other creatures away, and works as effective pest control. 

However, it is possible for deer to become accustomed to the scent of coffee grounds, which means that is won't be a great deer repellent for the long term.

The pungent smell can help, but only if used alongside commercial deer repellents, or another effective deer deterrent.  

Many gardeners recommend using coffee grounds as deer repellent, but they have also seen results by using mint, garlic, and pepper.

Deer tend to use their sharp sense of smell to detect the presence of people and predators.[1] Unfamiliar, bitter scents usually frighten or upset them.

It is also worth noting that you want to scare the deer away, not bring harm upon them.

Using coffee grounds as deer repellent is a natural and harmless method to keep away deer and other creatures.  

Two Deer Close To Housing

Why Use Coffee Grounds For Deer Repellent

  • A Slow-Release Fertilizer
    There are a number of essential nutrients and micronutrients in coffee grounds, along with nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. Coffee grounds are naturally acidic, and plants like carrots, roses, and azaleas would appreciate the environmentally friendly boost from them. 
  • Coffee Compost
    Sprinkle the coffee grounds on the soil and lightly rake it in. The coffee grounds add organic material to the soil, which helps water retention, aeration, and drainage in your flower bed. This will also improve the soil pH for other friendly wildlife.
  • Feed Worms
    If you are interested in vermicomposting with a worm bin, then coffee grounds will help because earth worms love them. Empty your coffee grounds from the coffee maker into a small container per week to feed the worms. 
  • Mulch
    Mulch helps to reduce the growth of weeds and keeps the soil moist. It can be difficult to buy compost or straw in large quantities at low prices, which is why coffee grounds can be very useful.

    Coffee grounds work best when they are mixed with other organic materials like leaf mold to create mulch. 
  • Repel Animals
    Coffee grounds can be good at repelling other creatures and other pests besides deer. The other creatures and insects that coffee grounds can repel include snails, slugs, ants, cats, dogs, rabbits, and deer. 

How To Successfully Use Coffee Grounds To Keep Deer’s Deterred 

The key to successfully using coffee grounds to repel deer is to store the used coffee grounds in a sealed bag or container for up to a week.

You should be careful about storing coffee grounds for longer than a week because they might develop mold that is not suitable for your garden. 

After a few days or a week, you should spread the coffee grounds close to your plants and trees, and it will form a scent barrier that will keep deer away.  

ground coffee

It is crucial that you use spent coffee grounds from HOT coffee because hot coffee releases more acidity compared to cold brews.

Dark roast coffee grounds tend to work best too because of the acidity levels.

Therefore, hot coffee will have a more bitter and acidic scent when you sprinkle it outside to deter deer.

The scent of coffee grounds will not last long, so it is best to replace the grounds daily or every other day to help keep deer away. 

We do not recommend that you use instant coffee to stop deer due to the fact that instant coffee is much more diluted, so if you use coffee grounds from instant coffee there's much less of a smell.

Will Coffee Grounds Keep Deer Away From Your House Forever? 

You should try to observe the effects that ground coffee has on keeping deer away. If it works for you long-term, then that is great!

However, it is worth noting that coffee grounds might not be a complete long-term solution due to habituation.  

Habituation is when deer become accustomed to the scent of coffee grounds, and they realize that there is nothing to fear. 

Deer will likely become used to the smell of coffee grounds over time, so the scent will become less effective. 

Therefore, it is essential that you have other methods alongside spreading coffee grounds to keep deer away.  

wild deer near house

Alternative Ways To Keep Deer Away From Your Home 

  • Use Deer Resistant Plants
    There are a number of plants, flowers, shrubs, perennials, and groundcovers that act as deer deterrents.

    This include floss flowers, signet, marigold, verbena, snapdragon, boxwood, cinquefoil, butterfly bush, spirea, juniper, Russian sage, bee balm, fringed bleeding heart, monkshood, peony, black cohosh, dusty miller, lamb’s ear, Japanese pachysandra, Japanese printed fern, lady’s mantle, lily of the valley and Japanese sedge. 
  • Use Deer Repellents
    There are plenty of deer repellents and commercial repellents that you can buy to keep deer away from your property, such as Nature’s MACE and other commercial deer repellent sprays.

    You can also make your own DIY deer repellent spray with white vinegar, rosemary, and peppermint oil. 
  • Install Deterrent Motion Sensor Lights
    The tactic of installing motion sensor lights is good at scaring away deer and other critters from your garden.

    This is one of the best deer repellents, but to prevent deer coming near your property it's important that you have a high-quality floodlight for when the motion detector senses movement.
  • Fencing
    An effective deer repellent is just stopping them getting in, so you should try to fence off your plants and trees to protect them. 
  • Get A Dog
    Dogs that stay outside all night will be great at deterring deer and other unwanted guests. 
  • Use Soap
    Hanging an Irish Spring soap, or a deodorant soap/ athlete's foot medication can help work in repelling deer. As with spent grounds, deer don't like the smell and it can repel deer and other pests.
  • Hang Human Hair
    Hanging a bag of human hair in your garden has been said to repel deer (though with varying results!)
  • Sprinkle Baby Powder
    Baby powder sprinkled on your plants and garden can help to deter deer. When used alongside spent coffee grounds to repel deer it can be quite effective.[2

Common Questions About Keeping Deer At Bay

What smells do deer hate?  

Deer dislike sharp and strong smells like Marigolds (Tagetes species), Putrescent Egg Solids, Mint (Mentha species), Wolf Urine, Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), Garlic (Allium sativum)Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)Oregano (Origanum vulgare)Sage (Salvia officinalis)Rosemary (Salvia Rosmarinus) and Lavender (Lavandula).  

What are the disadvantages of using coffee grounds to repel deer?  

The main disadvantage of using coffee grounds in your garden is the fact that the scent fades quickly, especially after a heavy rainfall. 

Therefore, it is important that you remain consistent and replace the coffee grounds daily or every few days in order to keep deer and other animals away.  

Does vinegar keep deers away? What about cinnamon? 

Deer, as well as other creatures like cats, dogs, rabbits, foxes, and raccoons, do not like the smell of vinegar, especially after it has dried.

You should consider soaking a few rags in full white vinegar and place them around the garden to keep away animal visitors. Try to restock the rags every 7 to 10 days.

Cinnamon is also an effective year-round control against deer damage. 

What plants do deer hate the most?  

Deer tend to avoid poisonous plants or plants with toxicity like daffodils, foxgloves, and poppies.

They also do not like plants with strong scents like sages, lavender, and ornamental salvias, along with flowers like peonies and bearded Irises. Prickly plants are also not liked by deer.  


So, do coffee grounds deter deer? Not fully - but they can definitely help. 

Spent coffee grounds can work alongside other methods to deter deer, and will help you keep local deer out of your garden and plants. 

Hopefully this guide introduced some of the best deer repellent options, and you now know how to utilize used coffee grounds for keeping deer away from your property.




Kayla Stavridis

Head of Marketing

Kayla Stavridis
Kayla Stavridis is a coffee enthusiast and Head of Marketing for Barista HQ. She blends her professional insights and experience with a deep passion for all things coffee. Kayla offers a unique, hands-on perspective on coffee culture and trends. You can find her sipping a cold brew with just a touch of milk on the beach in the afternoon and a Corona with lime in the evening.

My favorite drink? I'd go with... Cold Brew

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