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Double Fences for Deer

 
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I am embarking on a project at our new home after leaving behind a maturing permacutlure set up in Vermont. Our new site is urban and is plagued by deer, a problem we didn't have in Vermont.

We are going to fence a little over half an acre (500-600 linear feet of fence) that will hold orchard, garden and small fruit etc. We are settled on a double fence, likely non-electric. This is partially because 8ft deer fences will look unsightly in the urban setting but more because we see a lot of ways to function-stack using the gap and the fence as trellises for certain types of plants. The inner fence might become the main trellising for grapes and in some areas blueberries will be in the gap and the fence will be part of the structure for holding bird netting over the berry plants.

I have read a lot of folks experiences with different materials and approaches on this site, but it is spread out over many threads and I have lost track of some good nuggets. I am hoping folks will be willing to link old content to this thread and add new, especially photos of double deer fences that have been successful.

I am especially interested in wire mesh materials for the outer fence and approaches that minimized the inner fence with visible cord, trellis or hot wire that could act as a trellis. I am also interested in homespun approaches to tensioning wire mesh and making a fence system that is easier to maintain.

I am enjoying the site a lot and look forward to posting on our experiences at our new site.
 
gardener
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Welcome to Permies, Henry!  And condolences for having to leave Vermont for urban/suburban living - I am sure it was an adjustment. Glad you have some space to recreate a slice of paradise.
 
gardener
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Henry, i am in a similar situation and feel i made a very creative solution for the problem. My fence will be an arbor. Think of an old clothesline pole. The fencing will be 4ft tall and at a little over 6ft, there will be a 4 to 5ft wide "tee". Wire will be strung along the tees. Grapes, kiwi, or nothing will be grown on the arbors. It should be beautiful when the plants mature.

I have started on it. Most of the fence is done. I just need to install the tee portion of it.

 
pollinator
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Here's the double fence I built around our "homestead" acre.  Inner taller fence is remesh, outer fence is old sheep fencing.  Posts are old T posts and convenient trees.  So far this fence is successfully excluding Whitetail and Axis Deer.

"I double deer fence you to jump into my garden!"
double-deer-fence.jpg
double deer fence
double deer fence
 
Henry Schek
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wayne fajkus wrote:Henry, i am in a similar situation and feel i made a very creative solution for the problem. My fence will be an arbor. Think of an old clothesline pole. The fencing will be 4ft tall and at a little over 6ft, there will be a 4 to 5ft wide "tee". Wire will be strung along the tees. Grapes, kiwi, or nothing will be grown on the arbors. It should be beautiful when the plants mature.

I have started on it. Most of the fence is done. I just need to install the tee portion of it.



I am after the same thing: maximally productive and nicer to look at than a bunch of plastic.
 
wayne fajkus
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Here is my progress. It will be ruffly 300ft x 50ft.
fence-design-with-arbor-element.jpg
fence design with arbor element
fence design with arbor element
Installed-fence.jpg
Installed fence
Installed fence
 
gardener
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Just a thought, Deer will not jump over something if they can't see the landing zone. If you put up one fence and added something opaque over just one side of that fence, the deer would not jump over it as long as they couldn't see what was waiting for them on the other side.
I like the non woven row cover materials simply because it is inexpensive and non see through.

Redhawk
 
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Hello and welcome to permies! I have tried the double deer fence solution and I have found it a bit mixed.

I found in areas where the deer really wanted to get through it only worked for a while before the deer just tried to jump it. Often this jump would result in a partially broken fence.

I had a lot more luck with just making a single tall fence. Every place I switched to this I have had no major issues. the exception was in one area where the deer dart across the road and can't see the fence so they ended up jumping into it. There I have been installing wood instead of the plastic mesh so they can see it more easily. So far this is working great.

In my opinion the double fences are kinda ugly and a pain to work around if you are planting between them. I find a single tall fence made from t-posts, welded wire mesh fence with plastic mesh up top actually looks better.

If you were going to use double fences make sure the outer one where the deer come is a mesh and not just wires. I had deer push through wire fences but not the mesh.

I would also plant tall shrubs between the 2 fences so overtime it fills in and becomes a hedge. Eventually you could take the inner fence down and just leave the outer fence.

Your idea of using the fence as trellises could help. The more solid it all looks the less likely deer are to go through it. I'm planning on adding evergreen shrubs to mine to make it more solid.

My eventual plan is to take down all my double fences and rely on my hedgerows to keep the deer out.

All in all I have not had the best experience with double fences. It can work but it really depends in my experience on if you are trying to block a "deer corridor" or just dealing with the occasional visit by deer as they move around the land. If it's one of their corridors they don't like to change their habits.

Sorry for being a bit negative towards these--but I have spent a lot of time taking out my double deer fences and replacing them with tall fences...
 
pollinator
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Deer fencing does not, theoretically, need to be strong - it simply needs to be "visibly obstructing". By this I mean (unless on an existing roadway/escape route) simple fishing line, bird netting, twig, bamboo, lath....are all sufficient, if tall enough (remember to take into account slope - must be higher if deer is coming from uphill!) will work.

Remember to factor in snow heights...if half your fence disappears when it snows the deer will have a literal field day!

Metal poles are often pricier to buy, but WAY cheaper for both installation and longevity (use tractor to "press" into ground - no digging/augering/cementing and no rot), assuming you are not building on rocky ground.

So, for deer, you may have a solid/wire/wood fence on the lower 3-4 foot portion, with something MUCH lighter/cheaper above. An arbor or "T" shaped structure is fabulous, but will take time - you will need something in the interim, and you may NOT want to plant stuff that will attract wildlife that will predate on your orchard.

Long term a hedge row type planting on the inside of the fencing could give you the natural look you seek - if using a non-solid fencing material it would "grow through", and over time, would obscure if not visually obliterate the actual fence itself while using the fencing material as a trellis.

Simply bending branches of willow (or like minded trees/shrubs) and anchoring in the ground to root often works brilliantly, given time and also provide a wind break.

I am a firm advocate of used metal roofing along the bottom - cannot be climbed so keeps out rabbits, rodents (bark chewers); and if you go up to four feet you should also keep out climbers like raccoons, squirrels etc. I know you said deer, but lots of other critters like orchards!

P.S. Split 4 inch lengths of pipe, taped, zap strapped or hose clamped together around new/small trees can protect their trunks from chewers; snapping sections of metal stove pipe around fruit laden trees (4 ft sections) makes trunks unclimbable, and need only be applied for the last couple of weeks before harvesting.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I advise against using plastic "deer netting". Snakes and other small animals can get trapped in it and die. Also, it's plastic.  :(
 
pollinator
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:Deer fencing does not, theoretically, need to be strong - it simply needs to be "visibly obstructing". By this I mean (unless on an existing roadway/escape route) simple fishing line, bird netting, twig, bamboo, lath....are all sufficient, if tall enough (remember to take into account slope - must be higher if deer is coming from uphill!) will work.



When I first started gardening at our new place, I bought a bunch of ladder mesh for $1 each to use as arches over my raised beds. I like it because you can stick the ends into the ground. This year, when the deer were really coming into the yard, I tried arching some pieces along the chain-link fence where the deer were jumping over, with the arches parallel to the fence about the distance from the fence that you'd put in a lower double fence to deter deer. Maybe I just got lucky, but it seemed to work as a temporary solution until I can afford to do something better.

LadderMesh.jpg
[Thumbnail for LadderMesh.jpg]
Concrete reinforcing ladder mesh piece
 
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wayne fajkus wrote:Henry, i am in a similar situation and feel i made a very creative solution for the problem. My fence will be an arbor. Think of an old clothesline pole. The fencing will be 4ft tall and at a little over 6ft, there will be a 4 to 5ft wide "tee". Wire will be strung along the tees. Grapes, kiwi, or nothing will be grown on the arbors. It should be beautiful when the plants mature.

I have started on it. Most of the fence is done. I just need to install the tee portion of it.



That design sounds like a great idea! I was wondering what plants I could grow on a fence and not have the deer just devour from the outside. Will they not eat grapes and kiwi? Any other vines they don't like?

We'll probably be moving to your general area later this year, so all of your posts are especially helpful to me.
 
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We live on Washington state's Olympic Peninsula, adjacent to Olympic National Park. Although our 3/4 acre lot is in town, with paved streets, sidewalks, houses, etc, many, many blacktail deer live in the neighborhoods and rely on the suburban vegetation to make it through winter, droughtish summers, and general habitat loss. Our yard in particular is on a deer trail.

For the first 15 years of gardening here, I kept the deer off my vegetable gardens with a combination of a dog and overhead fencing (1x1 stakes driven in at corners and along sides with screws placed vertically every six inxhes or so, and field wire fencing laid over the bed resting on the screws.) It was easy to use thrown-away short lengths of fence, and as the plants grew taller, just raise the wire up to rest upon the next level of screws.

This didn't protect trellised plants or trees. The dog mostly took care of that, until she passed on. As we planned our perennial food forest, we knew we had to up our game. Since we try as much as possible to only use recycled, already-used-once materials, we ended up with a double fence comprised of 4' high pallets on the outside, with old t posts every other pallet, and the edges screwed together. Five feet inside the pallet fence we erected an inner fence which is 7' high deer netting with a 1.5 overhanging projection made from old metal conduit and old steel wire. All of the netting and most of the 10' t-posts we got from an old farmer who had just sold her market garden property to some young permaculturists, who didn't want to use plastic...It is stout and uv-protected, so it will last about 10-15 years, during which time we should be able to scavenge enough used wire to replace it. The double fence encloses roughly an 80' x 95' area. The rest of the property is in the process of being contained by a combination of double fences (pre-existing chainlink, and t-posts w/hogwire) and overhead wooden trellises. We live in town, so the front border of the yard needs to be a little more presentable. We checked with all the neighbors, and all of them were fine with our pallet fence!

A caveat: The outer fence was twice breached by a falling tree, and we saw a mama deer easily leap over the 8' inner fence from a standing position. We saw this happen twice. It was an incredible athletic feat. Never kid yourself about a deer's abilities. Short of a 10-11 foot enclosure, a single fence will never be 100% safe.
IMG_3990.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_3990.JPG]
a portion of our double fence. we will be planting espaliered fruit trees along the inside of the tall fence...
 
carla beemer
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I forgot to say: The black deer netting is nearly invisible to wildlife, so we string strips of brightly-colored scrap cloth at random heights. It eventually rots and falls off, so that's a periodical job. Sometimes I hang some old cds on the fence so they flash. At the bottom of the fence we used hog rings to attach smaller-holed metal chicken wire , hoping to keep out smaller critters. So far, so good. We have large mixed flocks of small birds through here all the time, and they fly at high speeds, land in the 2" squares, then fly through the fencing with no casualties so far. Plastic fencing is not something I would choose to buy new, but we saved it from being thrown away, and so I feel ok about it for now.
 
Henry Schek
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Thanks for all of the info and experience.

It looks like the town permitting process might favor the less attractive, 8ft deer fence. The odyssey of doing this in town is going to be the bigger challenge than actually stopping the deer.
 
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I have decided on a tall electric  fence in the woods and a more visible fence along the road. Visibility can be cheap, I’m planning on strips of aluminum bent onto the wires. If the deer are local as mine are, generally one lick of the peanut butter on the aluminum strips is enough to convince them the fence is not something to challenge. This will only work if the deer are walking. We have very little predator pressure so I think it will work.

This technique has been referred to as a Wisconsin fence, which is not a barrier to jumping, just a psychological barrier because they aren’t sure why that bad thing happened. If they are out during the day they might figure it out.

From the studies I have seen, for full exclusion you need 15’ mesh. I’m not doing that, it’s crazy expensive. I think the occasional deer figuring it out is ok. For a garden, I would think the double fence would be fine, especially with lazy suburban deer and mesh with a visual barrier on the outside. Raised beds also seem to deter them because they won’t jump somewhere the footing looks sketchy.
 
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I'm going to try this method this year (fishing line fence):  
 
Lorinne Anderson
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Regulated fence heights can certainly be difficult - this is where the "two-tone" fence comes in; solid on lower (bylaw/ordinance height) with the bird netting/fishing line etc. above...an arbor would be another alternative, as width negates the need for height.

A few things to note: enforcement is generally based on complaints; if the neighbors are "okay" with it, chances are there will be no complaints. Complaints come from their perception of "ugly" or "loss of light" (fence/wall blocking light into neighbors garden). If you avoid these scenarios, you can likely get away with it.

Secondly, here the setbacks for building are ten feet on the sides, 30 feet on the front. Fencing, up to maximum building height (in theory) is allowable once inside these setbacks.

Thirdly, see if berms and/or hedging is also subject to boundary height restrictions, here neither is included in restrictions.
 
wayne fajkus
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Lila Stevens wrote:

That design sounds like a great idea! I was wondering what plants I could grow on a fence and not have the deer just devour from the outside. Will they not eat grapes and kiwi? Any other vines they don't like?

We'll probably be moving to your general area later this year, so all of your posts are especially helpful to me.



With kiwi, the plant is not supported on the way up to the arbor. So it free climbs(with a temporary pole). If planted on the deer proof side they won't get to it. I suppose they could try to reach what is 7ft off the ground hanging down from the arbor (on one side only).

This is theory but i am moving forward with it. Also, the top bars can be angled. Like on one side it is 6ft off the ground, and on the deer side it is 8ft off the ground. In my case, the orientation would give more sun if i did this.
 
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