They’re bold and hungry – and as development strips away their natural foraging areas, the landscape is a logical buffet for deer. So, they creep in. Actually, they leap over fences and parade in prancing lines looking for a snack. Those hostas? A hardy salad. The supposedly deer-resistant perennials? Maybe not the tastiest, but they’ll do. “There is a high demand for deer control services because deer are getting braver, and as we continue to build and take away their environments, they are coming into ours,” says Edward Thomas, general manager at Horizon Landscape in Wyckoff, New Jersey.
Deer control has grown as a service at Horizon Landscape, and the service is marketed especially to clients who purchase seasonal color programs since annuals tend to be more attractive to deer, rabbits and other critters like squirrels.
Chris Markham’s company, New Jersey Deer Control, is dedicated to keeping the forest friends off of landscaping. “We used to do a lot of native landscaping for people – building hummingbird gardens at people’s houses – and the deer were eating everything,” he says, noting that the deer population exploded between the mid-1980s and mid-2000s. “Deer were affecting my projects, and I was using store-bought products that weren’t effective.”
Markham did some research and created his own repellent that is mixed every morning and applied by his team of about 16 employees.
“A lot of landscapers try to do deer control by going to the store and buying products off the shelf, and a lot of them give up on the service because it’s not effective for them,” he says.
Now that Markham’s company only does deer control, he partners with landscape firms to serve as a subcontracted specialist.
Horizon Landscape uses a range of commercially produced repellents, switching up their products so deer don’t get accustomed to the taste. In spring, a granular repellent along with a spray deters deer for longer, Thomas says, adding that the granular adds an extra mode of protection during the rainy months.