Keep Deer Away from Plantings

Belgianpup(Wa/Zone 7b)March 30, 2010

I posted this info on one of the recent threads about deer, then realized there were SIX MORE threads about how to keep deer away/get rid of deer, just on the first page. So, I'm giving my info it's own thread, hope no one minds the duplication.

This isn't just theory, it isn't a rumor, it isn't a hoax. It really works, because I did it. I had a small veggie garden in an unfenced rural area near a river. The landlord said I could have a garden, but no fence. Twice a day, every day, a small herd of deer came through my property. Every time, they stopped at the edge of my garden. They eyed my lettuce, peas and corn with obvious longing. But self-preservation won. Every day from March to September.

Deer are prey animals. Deer can't see their feet. They fear foot traps, because they know if they get a foot stuck in something or break a leg, they are someone's dinner. Have you ever seen a cattle guard? They are metal gratings installed under farm fences. Cattle fear foot traps, too, so when the farm gate is open, the cows won't try to go through it, because they would have to walk over the grating. Some people save money by just painting the same sized grating on asphalt that cows might be likely to cross, and the cattle won't cross that, either.

Get some 3-ft tall welded wire fencing with 2x4" mesh. (Use 4-ft if you're putting it up to a structure with plants hanging from it -- I'm not sure how far a deer can stretch its neck.)

Lay the wire mesh flat all around the area you want to protect. Don't allow any gaps in coverage. Let the grass grow through it and mow over it.

The deer will see your plantings, pansies or trees and head right for it. Then a hoof will touch the wire mesh and they will stop. THEY WILL STOP. They're afraid to go further. Even if there was an open area on the other side of the wire mesh, they won't jump it because they don't know how far it extends. Even a deer knows you can't jump a canyon in two jumps.

If your property is irregular and laying fencing down won't work, you might try the solar-powered Nite-Guard. I saw it advertised in AcresUSA, and it sounds reasonable. Not very expensive, either ($30 +shpg). You can google it. They say it is covered by a money-back guarantee. I am planning to buy one to put in my chicken pen, and I have no affiliation with them.

Sue

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gardenspuds(CA- SF Bay area)

This is interesting, and I was wondering about something along this lines, thanks for the tip!

I have a yard of mostly deer resistant plants, but on my large deck, I have 5 pots of roses I've been trying to keep for 2 years. If I am vigilant about spraying Liquid Deer Fence, the deer mostly stay away, but sometimes my laziness keeps me from spraying.

I have been thinking about putting something on the ground near the deck to see if that would prevent them from walking to the deck. I too had thought about the cattle barriers that I have seen when travelling, those always amazed me.

I hadn't thought of wire mesh. I'll get some this weekend! We have no grass in the yard, but I'll try putting the mesh down over our ground cover growing among a stone path where the deer enter the yard, then will also put some over the mulch near the deck. We too cannot have a fence, we live in a wooded area and have a slope behind our house, and a strange property line would put the fence on our neighbors yard in some parts- he has told us he doesn't want even a temporary fence...

Thanks!
Barbara

    Bookmark   April 24, 2010 at 1:17PM
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gardenspuds(CA- SF Bay area)

Following up: Today I put down the 2"x4" wire mesh on the ground directly at the entrance to where the deer would get to the roses on my deck. I'll update to let everyone know if the deer get to the roses. It may take awhile, I did just recently spray with the roses with liquid deer fence spray, and that keeps them away for awhile, although the roses will be in bloom in another couple of weeks, and I swear they smell the rose scent from miles away!

Barbara

    Bookmark   April 25, 2010 at 1:05AM
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gardenspuds(CA- SF Bay area)

Another update: I put the wire mesh down yesterday (see above post). I think it was a beacon for the deer. I arrived home today to find that the roses have been defoliated! This year they are going at it full blast. Last year spraying with Liquid Deer fence worked, this year obviously not. And, what can I say, the deer around here didn't care about the wire on the ground!

I am now looking to plant something else in the pots...

Barbara

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 7:57PM
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newbie_in_nj(6b E/Central NJ)

I have rose bushes, echinacea, wood aster (supposed to look like "snow in Sept."), liatris, great blue lobelia and peonies encircled in 4' high cages. The deer either reach down into the cages (no tops) or rip them out of the ground (staples and all) to get to these plants.

I expect trouble with rose bushes but not with others that are on all the "deer resistant" lists that the deer never read.

They plucked every peony bloom right off the plants.

Thought they were supposed to be fool proof when it came to deer.

If the deer don't get a plant I can be reasonably sure the rabbits or "stinking moving shag carpet" (groundhogs) will get them sooner or later.

This is all in a residential neighborhood that backs up to a farm and a narrow strip of state owned "open space" land.

Too many deer and not enough food...except what I plant.

Gets progressively worse each year and this year is a real bummer.

My next move is to put another 3' of fencing on top of the 4' fence circles. I'll twist tie them together so I can easily access plants for maintenance and hope longer earth staples work. They've developed a taste for garlic and mint so none of the sprays work any more.

Sound cheerful, huh? Not...but I'm not giving up on seeing something bloom after all the work it took to grow, plant and maintain these plants. I fully realize it's starting to look like a plant gulag around the house but I'm not ready to throw in the towel. Close but not there yet.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2010 at 9:05PM
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iammarcus(6)

I thought Sue's suggestion was my salvation but then Barbara's experience put an end to that. I will put up my 4 foot fence around my fruit trees and put my black lab inside. If the deer want to jump the fence and play with my dog their welcome to do so. Even a well antlered buck might decide not to fight.
Dan

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 10:40PM
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marquest(z5 PA)

I know this is old but maybe it will help. I tried using the theory and laid my barrier like a plank. Their hooves will go down between the holes they have trouble walking, It has to be up off the ground about a foot.

You cannot lay it flat on the ground it has to be raised. I watched them step on it trip and fall. One went limping away the others followed.

If you have ever gotten your heel or shoe caught down in a grate you understand this method.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 12:21PM
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iammarcus(6)

I placed 6-8" logs under the fence wire Sue mentioned, spaced every 10-15 feet, then inside this I placed 80 lb test monofiliment line about 18- 24" off the ground. Unfortunately my border is incomplete, although something broke the monofiliment in one spot it didn't come through the gap in the fence, as the break is in a protected area.
Has anyone tried spraying their plants with Bordeaux mixture? I understand it has an unpleasant taste, at least as far as humans are concerned. It was used in Europe to prevent people from stealing fruit, before its anti-fungal properties were discovered.
Dan

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 2:47PM
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