, Newburyport, MA

November 13, 2013

Tim's Tips: Keeping the deer away

Tim's Tips
Tim Lamprey

---- — Unless you live in the heart of a city, you probably have deer in your neighborhood. You have heard of Lyme disease and its association with deer. The other problem with deer is that they need to eat.

During the spring, summer and fall, the deer tend to stay away from eating our plants. During the winter months, food gets scarce and the plants in our yard tend to become a salad bar for deer. Now is the time to begin preparations to make your plants less inviting.

There are deer repellent sprays that you can apply to your plants that will keep deer from feeding on your shrubs. Most deer repellents work in two ways. They have some type of smell that the deer find offensive, and they taste bad to them. Most deer repellents use essential oils and add in garlic or rotten eggs. They work, but sometimes they are also repellent to humans. There is one repellent that our customers have found works well but doesn’t have the smell that humans don’t like. It is called Oh No Deer, and it uses a cinnamon base as the repellent. The deer don’t like it, and it can be applied at lower temperatures than most deer repellents.

You will need to make several applications of deer repellents during the fall and winter. If you start now with applying repellent, the deer will find that there is nothing in your yard that they find appealing as food. Think of it as breaking the habit of them visiting your yard for food. As I said, now is the time to start applying deer repellent to your shrubs. If you follow the label instructions regarding how often you need to reapply the product, you should have good luck keeping the deer away from your plants.

If the idea of spraying your plants is not appealing to you, there is also a product called deer netting that you can use to keep deer away. There are two ways to use deer netting. You can drape the deer netting over your shrubs. When the deer go to eat the shrubs, the netting gets onto their tongue. The foreign texture of the netting confuses them, and they back away from eating the plant.

You can also use the netting to form a barrier around the perimeter of your yard. The deer netting is 7 feet tall and comes in a 100-foot roll. You will place stakes in the ground and attach the netting to the stakes. You can also run the netting between trees or other high-enough objects to form a fence around the yard. As the deer come upon the netting, the black color makes it hard for them to see the netting. Bumping into the netting startles the deer. They will usually try to taste it, and the foreign feel in their mouth makes them feel ill at ease. This is usually enough to make the deer avoid your yard.

If you know that deer are in your neighborhood, don’t wait until they damage your plants before you do anything in your yard. In one night, deer can do hundreds of dollars in damage to your shrubs. Be pre-emptive and get some type of deer control in place now.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.


Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. His website is Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.