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Whether you’ve got no fence or a fence that isn’t cutting it, it’s time to find out what works against deer and get it installed.
Various types of deer fencing come at a wide range of costs and the best choice for each person is different. In this post, I’ll be covering the most important elements of a deer fence so you can ensure you put together what works for you and the garden.
An effective deer fence deters them either by sight, height, width, or combination. Blocking their sight also blocks your view of the garden. A high fence is the most space efficient, but a “wide” fence (a double fence) can double function as a garden trellis.
We decided to go with a single see-through fence with adequate height. The double fence option was an inconvenient design for maintenance and would have required two gates to get in and out. And with a solid wood fence, we wouldn’t be able to see our garden.
What is the best fence to keep deer out?
It’s tempting to take shortcuts on costs when it comes to keeping deer out of the garden. But you really need a fence that does the job, so investing in the best most fool-proof deer fence is essential. What does that look like?
A tall, unbreakable, lifetime-lasting fence is the best way to keep deer out for good. An eight-foot height, galvanized steel wire, and steel T-posts are a worthy investment for longevity and efficacy.
No matter the material you choose, a deer fence will be expensive. Either in money up front, or in more deer damage.
What matters most to you?
|Plastic netting||Wood||Galvanized Steel|
|Material longevity||Lasts a few years||Lasts a decade or two |
with yearly maintenance
|Lasts a lifetime|
|Cost efficiency||Throw-away and |
|Needs replacement |
after a decade or
two, but expensive
|Expensive up front, |
but never needs replacement
|Installation effort||Easy to work with |
but needs to be
taken down and
|Very time-consuming |
and heavy work to
install post holes
and every single slat
|Easy to unroll and |
tie to posts with
two people, heavy
|Aesthetic desire||Looks invisible to |
you and the deer,
good view of garden
|Blocks view of |
garden, casts shade
onto garden, but wood looks good
|Visible to you & |
the deer, good view
of garden, vines can trellis
This article was originally published on foodforestliving.com. If it is now published on any other site, it was done without permission from the copyright owner.
In the conclusion of this post, I share my ideas on how to cut costs on materials for a lifetime-lasting deer fence that also works against several other climbing critters.
First, you’ll find my experience with popular plastic netting so I can hopefully deter you from wasting your time and money! Then we will get into some convincing strategies. Strategies such as height, double-fencing details, vision, and avoiding gaps.
Will deer chew through plastic fencing?
Polypropylene mesh deer fencing is tempting, but high-quality material saves you from incurring more time, money, and frustration costs in the future.
Plastic mesh is easily ripped, chewed, and walked through by deer, if they are determined to get in they can figure it out. Plastic mesh only lasts as long as it takes the herd to figure out how weak it is.
Unfortunately for us, this plastic mesh deer fencing was a waste of money pretty quickly. It was only a matter of weeks before they figured out it was weak enough to chew and barge in. Our vigorous thriving grapes were eaten to nothing overnight.
If deer have had a taste of your crops prior to blocking them out; I strongly do not recommend using plastic mesh netting for a deer fence. They will be determined enough to get through.
While it’s a bonus that plastic mesh material lasts, without disturbance, for several seasons or a few years, it isn’t worth the risk for us and our valuable plants.
Time can’t be replaced and that’s a big deal when it comes to perennials that take time to establish, and annuals after a season of hard work and limited time to reap the reward.
The only way deer netting has worked for us, is not as a fence. Wrapping it around plants individually hasn’t failed yet.
If you really need to use some kind of plastic netting as a fence, the best is a stronger and longer-lasting polypropylene that isn’t easily chewed. But it does come at a heavier price and an ugly look. And since it won’t last a lifetime, galvanized steel might be the more attractive option at this point.
More details on getting away with deer netting: Will Deer Chew Through Plastic fencing? How To Avoid Damage
How do you keep deer from jumping over your fence?
Whitetail deer are capable of jumping the all-mighty ‘deer-proof’ 8-foot high fence. We’ve seen them jumping brush in the woods that high or wide. So, what else can we do?
Aside from a minimum of 8 feet in height, a jump-proof deer fence limits their vision, space, or perception. Deer are less likely to take the risk if they don’t know that a jump is safe. Combine the minimum height with a perception of peril, and your fence will be very deer-proof.
Will deer jump over a fence they can’t see through?
It’s a good idea to know if a solid wood fence will stop jumping deer or not because blocking your view of the garden isn’t ideal.
In general, a deer will jump over a solid fence with the right motivation even if it can’t see the other side. Without motivation, a deer is unlikely to jump over a solid fence when it isn’t hungry, doesn’t smell food, and isn’t being chased by predators.
Some gardeners make their wooden fences 6 feet tall and successfully prevent deer from getting in. The trick is simply a lack of vision; since they can’t see the landing point. But this tactic doesn’t guarantee results if a deer is in dire need of saving its life or is generally ambitious.
All deer are different and assess risk in their own ways.
Overall, wooden fences have worked well for many. The taller the better. Everyone recommended a minimum of 8 feet if you can afford it.
If you have the budget for a wood fence, but not a desire or the space to spare for a double fence you have two options. Either sacrifice your view of the garden or fence your whole property!
Fencing your whole property will be a lot more expensive, but you’ll still have a garden view.
Finally, a wooden fence can look beautiful and last for several decades, if you maintain it.
How do you build a double fence to keep deer out?
A double fence deters deer from jumping using width and space limitations.
The thought behind a double fence is that deer can’t tell exactly what they are up against because they have poor depth perception. Since they aren’t sure what they are seeing, they aren’t confident about jumping.
Deer need a good running start to jump their highest or longest. The distance they can jump, at maximum, is either long or high. Therefore, a very deer-proof fence has both width and height working against their abilities.
The biggest Idea of a double deer fence is to save money on the material price. So people are using this tactic with two short fences. Usually around 5 feet high with 3-5 foot spacing apart.
The sturdy material is often used on the outside and cheap mesh is used on the inside. Deer aren’t sure of the distance required to clear the obstacles and don’t want to be trapped in the middle.
Some people have tried this method and still had issues with whitetail deer.
Others have tried it and had success in their area.
I think this idea is smart for those who want lots of trellising in their garden. If both fences are sturdy, the inside can hold climbing crops and also appear more solid.
Unfortunately, the cost doesn’t really decline when using 2 sturdy fences plus posts and labor are also doubled.
At the end of the day, what works for you depends on the type of deer around, and what functions you want from your fencing.
Would you rather have vertical space? money savings? or ground space savings?
- Vertical growing space, using two sturdy fences, means less money saved but more growing space gained.
- Money savings means using cheap mesh material too weak to hold climbers so you’re out of both ground space, vertical space, and in & out convenience.
- If you want maximum ground space and don’t care for vertical space, a double fence is probably not the best for you.
Will deer crawl under a fence?
Buying a shorter fence and raising it up for height may seem like a great way to save money and stop deer from jumping into the garden. You’re right! It will stop them from jumping in. But it won’t stop them from getting in.
Deer love to crawl under fences if you leave them a gap. They need less than a foot of room to get under, especially the babies. Squeezing through a fence is their first choice before committing to a jump.
We made this mistake on our second fence because we found a second-hand roll of 4-foot metal fencing. We went ahead and put it onto our posts raised about 1 foot off the ground thinking it would work. We strung 3 wires of 9-gauge wire along the top for an 8 foot height.
Oh boy, was a lot more work than it had to be. Frustrating more than ever.
After we planted our hardy kiwi inside, we learned from this mistake.
We fixed it for now by stacking sticks, logs, and rocks at the bottom because it’s what we had. But with the amount of time, work, and repair that took, it would have cost less to get and install a proper fence in the first place.
What is the highest fence a deer can jump?
Whitetail deer have been seen jumping 8-foot fences from a still-standing position. This means that it’s still possible for a deer to jump even higher. Overall, jump-height capabilities vary between individual deer.
8-foot fences are the highest fence most deer can jump. Some deer can’t jump 8 feet, while the rare above-average athletic deer could jump a 9-foot fence with a running start. After 7 feet, deer have poor vision and judgment. Because of this, you’re most likely safe with an 8-foot fence height.
How to cut costs on an effective and lifetime-lasting deer fence
Posts: metal posts are expensive, yes. But I’d argue they are far less expensive than wooden posts.
Wooden posts require holes to be dug, and concrete to be poured, and eventually, they rot.
So, replacement would be even more costly than the initial installation. New posts and hole-digging services are also likely to be more expensive later.
Metal posts might be double or triple per post upfront, but you’ll never need to replace them. More importantly, you can easily hammer them in with an affordable post-pounder or push them into the ground with a machine.
Fencing barrier: 8-foot-high galvanized steel is expensive. If you live in an area where looks matter, it might be best to bite the bullet and get it for a reasonable appearance.
If you really can’t afford it;
- old metal roofing can be recycled and used as the bottom half of your fence. If you can’t find that,
- buy a 4-foot tall metal fence and use the “invisible” plastic mesh on the top 4 feet.
Both options still look good.
Metal roofing (like this) on the bottom is significant in preventing other animals, such as rodents from chewing bark or stealing strawberries! Usually, metal roofing comes in 4 feet widths and raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks will have a tough time entering too.
Metal roofing is expensive but the idea is to find used material that someone is getting rid of. It may be rusted but will do the job.
If looks matter less, free plywood or pallets can line the bottom, and light mesh can line the top. Plants such as rhubarb can be planted on the outside to make things look nicer and physically deter deer and other critters.
Wood, however, is climbable by other animals, but would still defend against deer.
If I couldn’t find metal roofing, I would personally avoid the wood and invest in 4-foot tall chickenwire or high-tensile steel fencing for the bottom. It will last longer, look nicer, and be easier to manage.
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