DOUG’S BLOG – Oh, Deer!


I know this is a sensitive and frustrating topic for many of you.

Last year, more than ever that I can remember, many new plantings of shrubs and trees took place. With the pandemic, many of you spent time and money on the landscape. You helped these new plantings make it through the summer—you watered, you fertilized, and nurtured them to get ready for winter—you are proud of your accomplishment. And you should be proud.

But now, all these shrubs and trees face another threat—deer. Here in Central Virginia, we normally don’t experience a harsh freezing winter that causes damage to our beloved shrubs and trees. So cold temperatures and the cold elements are not as big a concern as deer damage.

Winter is officially here. Many of our shrubs and trees have now dropped their leaves and have gone dormant for the winter. This reduces the food sources for deer, and they will prey on our landscape evergreens more than ever. And, they will become more aggressive with looking for food and will venture right up to the house if needed.

So, you ask yourself, “what can I do to protect my plants”?

One of the most effective deterrents to deer is having a dog roam your lawn and gardens, but not everyone has this option.  So, what other options do you have?


Deer repellent is a good first line of defense. There are many effective repellents on the market, and we carry two of the best with MESSINA DEER STOPPER and BOBBEX. With these products, you spray onto the shrubs and trees. Both are eco-friendly and can be used year-round. By spraying the plants, it leaves a bad taste in their mouths. Once sprayed, these products will protect the plants for up to 30 days. Many customers have reported back to us on their success using these products. I recommend that you consider alternating between the two products so the deer do not get used to the scent and taste.


Another product to consider as a deer deterrent is MILORGANITE. Milorganite is a dry product that you spread on the ground around and under the plants you want to be protected from deer damage. Milorganite leaves a smell that deer do not like.  Not only have our customers found Milorganite to be a successful repellent, but Milorganite adds organic nutrients to the soil, therefore a win/win.


Did you know that an adult deer will eat about 6 pounds of plant material daily? In the winter, they become bolder in their search for food by coming into your yard and close to the house.

When I talk to customers about deer, I will recommend that they do both the liquid spray repellent along with a dry product. Bottom line, you want to do whatever you can to make deer unhappy being in your yard and landscape.

To read more from Doug, visit our blog

11 thoughts on “DOUG’S BLOG – Oh, Deer!”

    • Annie,
      You are in good company when it comes to deer coming up to the house. Now, I have to admit that I didn’t think about deer eating bird seed. But, it makes sense. Good luck in controlling your deer population.

  1. Be fair. Deer not only eat to cause damage, but they also rut, which can instantly ruin new trees. I place some sort of blockade around my trees in the fall. Got to be always looking for signs of rutting.

    • John,
      You are so right about deer permanently damaging plants with rutting. But, I have worked with numerous homeowners who have protected their plants from deer rutting by using the various deer deterent products. Good luck. Thank you for taking time to share this comment. Doug

  2. I live in Colesville, part of Silver Spring, Maryland, I have used repellents and milorganite with some success, but periods of rain made my plants available for deer damage, my husband and I decided with our perennial and rose garden to put up electric fence with high success, a couple times deer got in with little damage, I was so happy last summer to finally enjoy my large collection of daylilies a favorite for deer.

    • Good Morning.
      Thank you for sharing your story on how you have been successful in controlling the deer damage to your plants. Yes, electric devices, such as fencing, is effective. Unfortunately, not all home owners have this option to use. Electronics, such as motion detectors, have had success with deterring deer. These motion detectors can either light up the area or they can sound a horn. Again, thank you for sharing your story on deer control. Enjoy January, Doug

  3. Two things that have been successful to me:
    Hang Irish Spring Soap in a hose on bushes
    I have lots of barbary plants with thorns. When I trim them, I implant the branches in my azaleas and other plants and the deer do not eat them

    • Russell,
      Yes, people have shared with me about taking soap, like Irish Spring, and hanging it around. I really like the idea of the barberry branches. This one I have not heard of before. This is a good one. I like it!! Doug

  4. My husband walked downstairs this am and was a deer right at the door. Do he open the door to see 7 deer eating our Azaleas . They looked up at him as if they were supposed to be theirs. They didn’t run even when he opened the screen door. They looked up and then at each other before just walking off. I refreshed the moth balls I put around that normally deters them.

    • Merry,
      Thank you for sharing your story. I think a lot of readers can relate and sympathize with you and your azaleas. Glad that you refreshed the moth balls. This time of year the deer are hungry and they will be aggressive with finding food. Good luck, Doug

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