Now is the time to protect your remaining summer flowers and foliage from deer damage, and change deer habits so they don’t destroy valuable trees and shrubs in winter

Arbs Before Rev
A common sight in Northeast Ohio is arborvitae that have been eaten by deer as far up as the animals can reach, reducing privacy and leaving an awkward stand of, well...mushrooms?

By Mitch Allen

If you’re like me, you invest a lot of time and money into landscaping plants and want to enjoy them for as long as possible, and that includes well into the fall and winter.

Unfortunately, deer enjoy our plants and shrubs as much as we do.

Northeast Ohio’s beautiful park systems are among the best things about living here. From the Cuyahoga Valley National Park to the Metroparks to many municipal parks, there are plenty of natural spaces to walk, hike, bike, cross country ski, horseback ride, etc.

Of course, one of the challenges of this proximity to nearly 100,000 acres of protected nature is our duty to coexist with the forest creatures who live there—and that includes Odocoileus virginianus, known more commonly as the white-tailed deer.

If you’ve noticed deer damage in your yard, it’s not too late to protect your landscaping now and enjoy the flowers and foliage for months to come. And right now is also the time to protect your winter vulnerables by changing deer habits so they are discouraged from entering your yard this winter and causing browse and buck rub damage.

Deer Overpopulation
According to Jeff Ardo, founder of En Garde Deer Defense, the overpopulation of deer has been an issue in Ohio, including in the Bay Village area, for many years.

“When their food source is plentiful, deer reproduce rapidly, and they have few natural predators in our area,” he says. I think we at least all sleep better at night knowing there are no wild wolves in the state of Ohio.”

As a result, deer are virtually everywhere. Controlling their populations is expensive and the various methods used are controversial, so most municipalities avoid the issue, leaving the task of protecting valuable landscaping flora to each homeowner.

Among the summer plants vulnerable to deer are tulips, daylilies, hostas, hydrangeas, roses, geraniums and even some types of daisies.

“Unfortunately, deer love to eat many of the same plant species we find beauty in,” Jeff says, “including daisies, tulips, daylilies, hostas, hydrangeas, roses, and geraniums. These are just some of the summer vulnerables. Winter vulnerables include arborvitae, rhododendrons, azaleas, yews, and euonymus, to name a few.”

And even plant species labeled “deer-resistant” are now vulnerable. “Deer still come and eat even these plants,” Jeff says. “It’s not unusual to see suburban yards and nearby woods void of greenery from shoulder height to the ground—the deer grazing range.”

How To Protect Your Property
Homeowners who experience deer damage have often tried various methods of defending their expensive landscaping, including scented sprays at big box stores and homemade concoctions found on the internet, but few of them work and none work well.

But there is one effective option.

The team at En Garde Deer Defense includes (L-R): Josh, Jake, company owner Jeffrey Ardo, Matt and Steve. Each En Garde tech must pass a certification which includes identifying at a minimum 87 different species of plants and whether they are vulnerable to deer.

Jeff’s En Garde Deer Defense is a deer deterrent spray service company that prevents deer damage to your floral landscaping. He started the local company in partnership with a wildlife biologist from New Jersey Deer Control who developed a proprietary spray formula that actually works.

En Garde’s formula cannot be found online or in stores. Due to the nature of its ingredients, it cannot be stored on a shelf. “We mix our spray fresh every morning,” Jeff says. “It’s effective, weather-resistant, transparent and virtually odorless to humans.”

But the spray’s unique formula is only one reason for the effectiveness of Jeff’s service. The other is proper application.

Intense Training
En Garde’s spray technicians undergo highly comprehensive training, including an online test in which each tech must identify at a minimum 87 different species of plants and declare whether they are vulnerable to deer. New employees also undergo a six-week, hands-on, in-the-field apprenticeship program with a trained technician before being allowed to work alone. Training also includes a final test to achieve certification. “The test includes questions about plants, deer behavior, spraying techniques, and questions our clients may have,” Jeff says.

Before treatment, deer had devoured this hydrangea’s blooms and foliage, reducing it to a collection of sticks. The next season—after the application of En Garde Deer Defense’s uniquely formulated spray—deer left it alone to thrive.

Get Started with a Free Trial
The sooner you get started, the better. “Once deer develop the habit of dining on your property, it’s harder to get them to avoid coming for the food source,” he adds.

Jeff is so confident in his service he gives every homeowner a free trial. That means your first spray costs you nothing and there is no obligation to continue. That said, once customers see that the service really works, seven out of 10 property owners sign up for the service. In fact, En Garde has more than 250 Google reviews with a whopping five-star average rating.

As Jeff likes to say, “The best time to use En Garde was last year; the second-best time is now.”

En Garde Deer Defense serves all of Northeast Ohio. To schedule your free trial, call 440-447-0022, or fill out a free trial form online at

Categories: Westside Home & Garden