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.

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

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