deer fence advice for our potager?

zinniamamaFebruary 3, 2007

The deer found my new potager last June and by August there was little left to harvest. I won't plant this year until it is fenced! Home Depot had nothing-what do you guys use and or suggest? Brands, online sites etc you can vouch for are all appreciated! Thanks, Brenda

oh and how high? is 6 feet enough or do I have to go 8?

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kristinlokin

I had luck at Home Depot (or was it Lowe's?) last summer - far back corner past the insulation. I used the green metal stakes (about $2 each) and green platic netting that hooks onto the stakes (maybe $20 a roll?). And the netting was only 4 feet high. It did the trick. I set it back far enough so the deer couldn't stretch their necks in. One theory is that they won't try to jump something if there isn't a big enough clear spot to jump into - I have four raised beds, so I think it looks too crowded for them. The only problem I had is our back yard is on ledge, so quite a few of the stakes I couldn't drive in far enough (only has to be a mere two or three inches! Hence the raised beds. And at least I don't have a problem with burrowing animals - no depth for them to dig tunnels!) - so the fence could pretty easily have been knocked down by the deer. I think our deer are pretty lazy.

I just saw a really great do-it-yourself fence on HGTV, too. They used re-bar for the posts, and wove willow branches in and out. Then they topped the rebar with rusted finials in the shape of fleur-de-lis. LOVED it. I saw some finials in the Restoration catalog. I just don't know where you'd find the willow branches...

I really liked how the garden felt, having it enclosed like that (although my husband felt the fence didn't look very nice, but it's nice and cheap and removable). I'd like to install something permanent, but I'll need to pay a professional to pin the posts to the ledge (probably every single post!)

    Bookmark   February 4, 2007 at 6:44AM
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boondoggle(9Sunset20)

I have absolutely no experience with deer, but I have seen 8 ft. plastic mesh for sale in two catalogs: Terratorial Seed Company and Parks. It's black, with a one-inch web. Of course, these companies charge an arm and a leg for their products....

    Bookmark   February 4, 2007 at 11:59PM
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ninjabut(USDA z 8,CA)

Someone said to angle the fencing out \_/ rather than up l_l. I'm not sure why. Just making it harder for them to jump, I suppose. It might have something to do with the WAY they jump? Straight up VS over? Not sure. HTH or hope someone else can explain this better. Nancy

    Bookmark   February 6, 2007 at 10:55PM
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tas123(z5 MI)

A few years ago I planted my garden directly in a former deer path. I put up a 3-strand electric fence using t-posts. However, another thing I added which seemed to work just as well when the electric was down was one of those 'scarecrow' style sprinklers. It startled the heck out of them, even after it had been there for several months. The cheapest one I found was from Northern Tool at the link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Northern Tool Motion Sprinkler

    Bookmark   February 12, 2007 at 1:21PM
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lisa_z5wmi(Z5)

Zinnia; the deer here in Michigan travel in packs and eat everything, so I feel your pain. I sunk 16 foot treated 4x4s 4 feet into the ground with a bit of concrete and put up a 4 foot wire fence around the 50'x50' enclosure. Then I ran wire every foot to 6 feet through the pre-drilled holes I had done, and every 2 feet to 8 foot high. The deer pushed the fence down and walked under the wire. So I put it up again and topped it with barbed wire. So far so good- its been 5 years. Bluebirds nest in boxes I put on the poles along with wrens and chickadees in other boxes. They all perch on the wires and clean the bugs off my vegetables.
If you are not up to such an endeavor, I read that two 4 foot fences 4 feet apart work great- like kristin said, they don't feel they have enough landing room. The same article suggested keeping chickens in that middle space. Lastly, why not make your fence of raspberries? One of my fence lines has become overgrown with them and while the deer nibble at them some, they have stopped trying to push over the fence at that spot. Good luck this year!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2007 at 8:59PM
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grettie(z5NY)

Z-
here in upstate NY the deer are also ravenous.... (I try not to take it personally- they are seeking food, I have a salad bar!)
We fence to about 8 ft high. we also use the green metal stakes with the bendable hooks on them. These can be hammered directly into the earth. DH adds "entenders" above this which could be bamboo, or painted wood. Wrap fencing around it- its flexible, heavy wire, coated with green plastic, about 5-6 ft high. we wrap the finer lightweight plastic netting around that (rabbits). this could go up to the extensions or you could string something ornamental up there (tibetan prayer flags, small lights) to give the illusion of more height.
other ideas from neighbors:
one uses raised beds about 4x3ft. and fences each individual bed to about 3 ft, with one side removeable for tending. too narrow for deer to go into. another neighbor says that if you use "picket fence" type but vary the heights of the stakes, the become confused as to the actual height of the fence (no depth perception) and won't jump in.
another neighbor has used bamboo poles about 6 ft high and wrapped the light flexible netting around it, attaching with small plastic cable ties. he puts a small pipe "sleeve "at the bottom to protect the bamboo fron rotting. this looks very nice. its not very high for this area, but he has a single raise bed which is long (12-15 ft) and NARROW (about 4 ft). the fence comes right along one long side and a single aisle in front. again, this may be too narrow for them to jump into.
i grow a lot of veggies and salad out there, and have a winter cold frame near the kitchen. the cold frame double lid (one w/ a thermal arm) has been enough protection this winter. I may do herbs closer to the kitchen this year, and will use half barrels with the green coated fencing in the rim of each barrel.
try lee valley or master gardener online. maybe skip the big box stores and try some local garden centers
gret

    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 2:16PM
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buffburd(z5 NY)

ninjabut,

I've heard that the reason to angle the fencing outward is that deer will try to go under an obstacle before trying to jump it. So with the fence angled they try to go underneath and fail, never being tempted to jump it. That's the theory anyways.

-Kyle

    Bookmark   May 25, 2007 at 7:16PM
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myoneandonly(z7VA)

Buff, it's interesting what you said about deer trying to go under the obstacle. I just saw a tape system advertised. It says you can protect up to an acre by surrounding the area with the tape at the level of the deer's nose secured to slim posts. The tape is permeated with cyote wee wee or something, and supposedly the deer walk up to it, sniff the predator and run away. It doesn't mention what tall deer do. Presumably, they bend down further for a sniff, and conversely small deer would have to stand on tippy toe. Also, it doesn't mention what happens when the wind blows or how it reacts when your husband drives through it on the garden tractor. My husband is not deterred by cyote wee wee.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 12:27PM
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buckstop319(8)

We love the deer--to watch and to eat, but keeping them out of the garden without an eight foot fence can be tough. In an effort to garden frugally, I finally found something that works good for me. I just use 5 ft metal posts and space them every 4 ft or so around my beds. They end up being only about four feet above ground--give or take 6 inches or so as we live in the Texas Hill Country and they are all crooked--couldn't get a fence post in the ground straight to save our lives with all the rock. But anyway, I then use the deer netting and wrap it around most of the beds (raised individual beds instead of just a large single bed garden). I don't tack it at the bottoms and leave it just a little loose so I can get my arm in if I need to. As the plants get taller--tomato plants particularly, I put a length of the net across the entire top and twistee it ever-so-often to the nets that are on the side. Leave it loose enough that as the plants grow they can "fill out" the top. This is a little hassle, but really not much. It has worked beautifully. The only thing with this netting you really have to watch is snakes or lizards getting tangled up in it. I have NOT had that happen in my garden, thank goodess, but it did happen on a couple of flower beds. Ugh. I found the dead lizard in one. Fortunately it was my husband who found the still live snake in the other. But I will still use the stuff and just pay better attention from now on.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 3:45PM
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gardengranma(6a/6b MD)

I had 12 years of luck of keeping a deer tribe of 13 or so out of my front yard (the back was fenced). But once they found it, it was pretty bad. I finally gave in and fenced the whole two acres. I went to Forhook Farm in PA and copied their approach. I have a paddock fence 4 boards (5 1/2 feet) with wire between the posts and the boards, and 10 foot posts every 24 feet. We added plain wire on those posts, 3 rows one foot apart with special wheels and some gadget at the end to tighten the wires. The gates (and I have several, including for the drive way,) are the same height as the fence, but made of cedar so they are light and easy to open and close. It has worked like a dream. Then I took down most of the existing fence and just left enough to have a front yard/drive way and a back yard, this time to keep the doggies in.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2008 at 11:07AM
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patrick_organic(6)

A Local favorite in addition to whatever type of fence you use is dog hair. I take all the hair that comes out of the dog brush and bag it up, then stuff nylon stockings with it and lay it around the outskirts of the garden, the nylons keep the hair from scattering and allows the scent to easily release. A neighbor of mine actually stops by a local groomer and gets trashbags full of dog hair. I see deer up and down my road on an almost daily basis, and since adding the dog hair to my existing 3 foot fence, not one loss.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2009 at 1:46PM
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ruthsmith(5MA)

I have not used it but heard that the tape does work.

How big is your potager? Ours is 16by18 so we only have a 3.5 picket cedar fence with chicken wire tacked to the inside. Got the fencing at Lowe's. I ask how big as deer supposedly will not jump a fence into a small area. We have all types of wildlife and the deer haven't been a problem in this garden.

However if animals are a problem this year we may go the electric route with a solar panel for power. I hope we don't have to resort to that though.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2009 at 12:03AM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

I have alot of deer in my area. Many of my neighbors love them and feed them. (Even among 'greenies', there's a wide range of interests.:) That's not going to change, and I really want to get along with my neighbors, so I had to do something.

I have been using electric deer 'sticks' for six years now. I bought them on the internet. They are a reasonably inobstrusive green stake that has fine electric wires on the top. You put a scented attractant on the wires, and when the deer moves in to check it out, he gets a good shock. Not damaging, but I sure don't want more than one.

Here are the pros and cons as I see them: They are $20 a piece. At the time I bought them, these were the best priced ones I could find. You have to put 2 AA batteries in each stake once a year, and you have to replenish the fragrance sticks. (These are inexpensive and I only do it in the winter when they are the worst.) I have about two dozen of them on my 1 1/2 acre garden. Batteries cost about $20 a year.

The company is absolutely excellent. Twice I have had sticks to fail and they replaced them with no questions asked. (They come with a two year guarantee. I have bought them at different times and do not know which were purchased when, but they have never quibbled.)

And best of all, they work. I feel certain that if I kept the fragrance sticks replaced each and every month, I would have virtually no deer damage at all. As it is, if I forget, I can count on the deer reminding me every fall that it's time to re-arm.

I plan to use them in my new potager that I am building. They're not cheap, but they are about a tenth of the cost of fencing in my garden, since my neighborhood covenants are very picky about the style fence we can use.

Here is a link that might be useful: Electric Deer Fence

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 6:08PM
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Shades_of_idaho

We have many deer here too. This will be the first year for my potager. It is at the top of a bank in the yard. If I do have deer trouble I hope the same fence I use for the dog yard will work. It will also be a narrow area. Guessing 12 foot or so wide and 60 foot long. The good part is it is at the gate to the dogs yard so maybe the deer will just not come on this side of the yard. The dog fence is cattle panel and it is 52 inches high. It is mounted on the horse pipe fencing because we had it on hand. I do not plan on buying more of it. Too expensive. If I do get this fence up I can also extend the dogs yard into the ares since my potager is all in tall tanks. Chris

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 1:20PM
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little_dani(9, S. Tex Coast)

I have 3 dogs, all of which shed profusely. I will gladly send the hairs they no longer want/need if you will email me with your address.

Heehee, just a small joke there. The two fences, about 4' apart does work very well.

Janie

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 9:39AM
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memo(Zone 4B Nebraska)

Dog hair works really well at keeping rabbits away too. If you have particular plants that they won't leave alone just stuff some dog hair under the leaves or string it into the branches. It works all summer.

We have huge herds of deer around us because we live along a river and because we are surrounded with treed land as well as pastures and fields of corn, wheat and soybeans. There is plenty to pick from, for them, here. They do come into the big windbreak of trees that surrounds the yard and house but they have never come into the yard. I'm not sure if it's because of the dogs, sounds of equipment or what but they never touch the gardens, they just eat the alfalfa from the field on the opposite side of the windbreak. Now, goats, that's a whole 'nudder story!

MeMo

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 1:20AM
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teauteau(KC5/6)

I have heard that human hair works to deter deer also. Is that true? If it is, I have access to lots of human hair because an acquaintance of mine runs a beauty salon.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 12:48PM
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oliveoyl3

I read that picket fences work to keep out deer. Sharon Lovejoy, garden writer said, "Chet Crook, who lived in the wild Santa Lucia mountains near my home, taught me that deer donâÂÂt like picket fences. TheyâÂÂll jump over an 8-foot fence without a pause, but there is something about leaping over pickets that confuses them. The Crooksâ huge orchard and garden were stripped by deer, but the rose and flower garden behind a 4-foot picket fence was virgin territory. Not a nibble. We built a similar fence around our deer rich garden in Cambria...".

Anyone have experience with a picket fence & deer?

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 2:07PM
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oldseed1

I have been gardening around deer for over 30 years. I put up a 4' fence on 6' metal t post then placed a2' pvc pipe over the post, then placed a 45% angle on the pvc and added another 2' pvc glued to the elbow. Then wove another 4' fence over the pvc . The deer have to be close to the fence to jump and the over hang acts as a deturent. hope thius helps oldseed1

This post was edited by oldseed1 on Mon, Feb 10, 14 at 19:31

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 6:55PM
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riverfarm(7)

We have a four-foot fence around the two sides of our garden that offer access by deer. On one of those sides is an old orchard, and on the other is a pasture. Both of those areas back up onto the woods where deer like to wander and we see them in the pasture and orchard sometimes. DH put up an electric strand at a height of 22â and two feet out from both of those fences, where the deer would have to set up to jump. When he first turned the current on, that night we heard a deer hit the electric wire and fall back with a thump. There was a lot of huffing and snorting, but they never tried it again. That was many years ago.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 7:03AM
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