Deer Repellent Fence – The Best First Line of Defense

Deer Repellent Fence – The Best First Line of Defense

Damage to home gardens, shrubs and plants caused by deer is becoming a more frequent occurrence among many homeowners in both rural and urban areas. Although they can be fascinating to watch, deer can cause extensive damage by feeding on plants and rubbing antlers against trees. Damage from feeding is most common in the spring on new plant growth.

Using deer-resistant plant varieties is a good first step in preventing damage, but it is absolutely not foolproof. Although there are many plant varieties deer prefer more than others, no plant is “deer-proof”. Even if you’ve planted deer-resistant varieties, you will need to protect them. Deer fencing is considered by many to be the most effective first line of defense.

A sturdy deer fence, a minimum of 7 to 8 foot high, constructed with thick-gauge metal mesh, and electrified if possible, is very effective in keeping even a hungry, motivated deer away from your garden or landscape. However, depending on the size of the area to be protected, it may not be practical or cost-effective.

An important note: a rigid fence with sturdy metal mesh is most effective. Flexible deer “netting” is less expensive, but also less effective at keeping deer out of an area when used as a perimeter fence. Hungry deer will usually test it and can easily knock it down or push through it to get to a meal on the other side. Netting CAN be effective at protecting small trees from antler “rub” damage when its wrapped around the trunk of the tree. Sections of corrugated drainage pipe, split and wrapped around the tree trunk is also a very effective deterrent.

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Some people believe a smaller fence, 4 to 6 foot high, can still be effective in turning away deer, especially if there are other sources of food nearby that are unprotected. (like your neighbors yard full of delicious plants!) This may be true and certainly any fence is better than no fence at all. A deer, however, can jump over these smaller fences effortlessly. If a smaller fence is the only thing standing between a deer and your prized vegetable garden, you will probably want to strongly consider additional repellents. These might include mechanical repellents (motion-activated sound and sprinkler devices), homemade methods (hair, soap, egg mixtures) and commercial (spray and pellet) repellents.

Final Recommendations

1. When planting, use deer-resistant varieties that are less appealing to deer as a preventative measure.

2. Slow them down with a fence. An 7-8 foot high fence may not be practical but a smaller one is better than nothing.

3. To insure maximum protection, you should also use mechanical, homemade and commercial spray and pellet deterrents.

4. A combination of a fence and one of these other deterrents will provide better protection. A fence and two others, better protection… and the multiple methods should be alternated week to week to avoid deer getting used to, and eventually over-looking, any of the regularly-used repellents.