Grit Blogs > Tackling the Country Life

The Best Defense Is the Right Fence

By Steve Daut


Tags: deer, garden,

A photo of Steve DautThe garden project has moved a couple of steps forward. I worked pond muck, composted wood and leaves into the soil and we have built to first box for the raised beds. Our neighbors think we are nuts to assume that we’re going to keep the deer out. But at the same time, we have no shortage of advice on how to do it. And the solutions range from building a fortress to relying on scent alone.

The first person we talked to insisted that we need welded wire fencing to 4 feet, then 3 strands of electrical wire above, to a total height of 8 feet. He also told us to install 5-post corners. Wait a minute! We’re starting this year with about 600 square feet of garden! If we put in 5-post corners, plus a gate, all of the space would be filled with wire and wood, and that’s not what I was planning to eat this summer.

A friend of ours has a garden every year, and he lives pretty close. The difference in our parcels is that he is surrounded by cornfields and we are in a natural area, so deer already have some pretty good stuff to eat to keep them away from his garden. He just uses regular 5-foot metal posts and a 2-wire electrical fence and it works well for him. Actually, he has another line of defense as well. He lets his garden go “au natural”. I remember him trying to find me a zucchini and he couldn’t even find the plant in the midst of all the weeds, so it’s possible that deer get so tangled in the garden underbrush that they just give up trying to find the vegetables.

I was looking over a farm supply catalogue, and they were advertising the bright orange plastic mesh as deer fencing. Seems to me that if you wanted to protect some trees that this might be a deterrent, but it would surprise me if that would keep out any deer that really wanted to get into a garden. The other thing I’ve heard it if you use high test fishing line, it makes an invisible barrier, and since the deer can't see it but can feel it, it spooks them and they stay away.

Talking about invisible barriers, our neighbor just two lots away claims that all you have to do is mix a couple of eggs in water each week and pour it around the perimeter. According to him, this creates a scent barrier that will keep deer away. All I can say, is that I’ve spent a ton on bloodmeal in the past and it never stopped anything from munching on what was supposed to be the fruits of my labor.

Unless I hear differently from someone else, I’m going with the 2-wire electrical. If I have to let the weeds grow and just stay in my hammock all summer, well, it would be a sacrifice but I’m sure I’d be up to the task.

steve_1
5/6/2009 1:21:24 PM

BTW, I just read Gerorge DeVault's great article on deerproofing the garden- a veritable cornucopia of sage advice. Armed with this great stuff, I'm definitely feeling up to the challenge. http://www.grit.com/Animals/Wild-Grit-Deerproof-Your-Garden.aspx


steve_1
5/6/2009 1:12:49 PM

I think I've heard of that stuff, but don't really know much about it. My theory is if I hear it more than a couple of times, it may work in enough cases that it's worth a try, so if anyone else has used this Deervik, I'd like to hear your comments. BTW, I have another blog entry on the way showing what we have in place so far. -Steve


cindy murphy
4/27/2009 5:56:28 PM

Hi, Steve. You might want give a repellent called Deervik a shot. It's a bit different than most deer repllent - it's not a liquid spray or a powder. It has the consistency of Vaseline, and therefore does not wash away in the rain. It's easy to apply - for a vegetable garden, just dip a stick or bamboo stake into the goop, and place about every three feet around the perimeter of your garden. The sticks should be a length nose level to where the deer would be chewing. Deer are a real problem in our area, and this product is hard to keep stocked at the nursery. Customers swear by it, and call ahead to place their order to ensure they get their stash before it runs off the shelves. It was developed by a farmer and made right here in Michigan. http://www.deervik.com/ I would like to add a note to anyone who reads; if you're detering deer or other animals by using repellents, please reconsider if you're using the predator urines...coyote, fox, and bobcat are a few. The harvesting methods used to obtain them are inhumane.