Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

A Deer Fence that Really Works

706.KThere are dozens of tricks you can use to keep deer from grazing on your landscape: deterrents that move or flash, scented soaps, coyote urine, human hair, etc.  But none really works in the long term, because deer are intelligent animals and soon end up realizing there is no real danger. But there is a method that does work very well, even over the years: proper fencing. It’s the most expensive method, but at least it is effective.

A typical suburban fence will not work, though. You need a net or mesh fence at least 7 feet (2.4 m) above the ground and, in addition, ideally with an additional 2 feet buried underground, because desperate deer will not hesitate to dig in order to reach their goal. Yes, you read me: to be truly effective, the mesh you choose will need to be almost 8 feet (3 m) high!

If that’s too high for your tastes, there is another option. True enough, deer can easily jump a 4 foot (1.2 m) fence, but only if there is no obstacle on the other side. If there is a second fence they can see located just where they will land, they won’t jump even a 4 foot (1.2 m) fence. So install two 4-foot (1.2 m) fences 5 feet (1.5 m) apart and tie colored ribbons to the second fence as a warning, as otherwise the deer might not see it and could be seriously hurt by falling on the second fence.

Efficient deer fencing is expensive, no doubt about it, but if you really want to garden in peace in a region where deer are causing problems, it’s a worthwhile investment.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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