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Keep Deer Out Of A Garden?

 
Andrew Michaels
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My garden borders a forest, and almost every year I lose a lot of plants to deer. Sometimes they eat almost everything. The garden is currently guarded by a 4 and 1/2 ft fence, but it seems to do nothing to keep the deer out.


So I'm wondering, what you do to keep deer out of your garden?

We've tried the whole urinating around the edge thing without success.

I even tried creating a "sacrifice area," outside the garden, but after they demolished it they just kept on coming.

How high does a fence have to be before deer can't jump it?

How about some sort of motion-sensing alarm to scare them?

Something else?

Any ideas welcome.



 
Daniel Truax
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My mom uses irish spring bar soap cut in half and hung by some string on the blue berries. Works good.
 
Hannah Lichty
Posts: 4
Location: France, Lot
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We have some very vigilant dogs, so I don't have a lot of trouble with deer but my neighbor does. Over the years she's created a very wide ( 5ft ) and reasonably tall (about 5 to 6 ft) fence out of thorny brush. Every time she cuts down blackberries, sloes, wild roses, etc. she just adds them to the "fence". I believe it's a technique used in parts of Africa. I've started doing the same thing in an area I want to use as a chicken paddock.

I've also heard of another technique along those lines. You cut down the thorny brush or trees when they are fruiting, lay them down where you want a hedge and let nature take care of the rest. The fruit falls off, seeds itself and the brush act to protect the new seedlings from deer. As the brush decomposes it also nourishes the seedlings. I'm going to use this technique to put in a lot of much needed hedgerows.
 
                                      
Posts: 172
Location: Amsterdam, the netherlands
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Usually a 2 metre hign fence is advised... that would be erhmmm 6/7 ft?

Holzer has this receipe for protecting trees, some kind of gunk he makes with bones, elsewhere on these forums you can find more info on that.
maybe there is a way of using this stuff around the garden beds? if so that would be a lot cheaper.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Most deer fencing around here is seven to eight feet, I think. I'm able to keep them out of the garden because my gardens are small and deer usually don't like to jump into a small area; my garden fences are about 5 feet tall. We have Whitetail and Axis deer, but the Axis deer don't come around the house area much. We also have a dog who likes to scare the deer off when they do come into the yard, which has a lower fence about 3 feet tall on one side with other areas 5 feet. There are tons of deer here and they will eat almost anything that isn't fenced.
 
Lloyd George
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aside from a loudmouthed yap dog, I pee in the garden every so often...maybe that does it, maybe not, but I have never lost plants to deer yet.
 
gani et se
Posts: 215
Location: Douglas County OR
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Things I have seen work:
2 short fences, too close for the deer to clear both. 8 foot (2.4 meter) fences. 4 foot fence with an extension on the top which is string that tips out and is just string.
It depends to some extent on whether other people in the area feed the deer, which makes them very bold.
Of course, around here there are elk. They will go over (or through) your deer protection, if they are so inclined.
 
Harper Stone
Posts: 24
Location: Whatcom County, Washington
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The best deer fence I ever saw was a pair of short fences (3 or 4 ft high, maybe 2 feet apart), surrounding the garden. The deer could obviously jump over them, but felt nervous (so they supposed) about being confined in between them. The space in between the fences was a chicken run. So the chickens kept weeds from migrating into the garden, and the gardeners could throw weeds and excess produce/vegetable matter/bugs over to the chickens, who would clean it up nicely. Talk about stacking functions!
 
Willy Kerlang
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I live in a deer-infested area myself and have learned a couple of tricks over the years.

Firstly, I like a product called Plantskydd, which is made in Scandinavia, from deer blood. It stinks to high heaven but you only have to apply it once or twice a season. It soaks into woody tissue and scares the deer off. Only catch is you need a few dry days in a row. Not recommended for things like lettuce, spinach, etc. but great for fruit trees, tomatoes, peppers, etc. before they bear fruit. I have used this several years in a row with great success except for last year, when it rained for weeks and weeks. By the time it was dry enough to spray my plants and seeds had mostly died in the ground and I got discouraged, and then the deer got what was left. Bastards.

Also, regarding fences, I have some friends who have used the brush fence idea with great success. Every tree, limb, branch, etc. gets piled in a row along a pre-defined line or border until it is as high as possible. Deer will apparently not jump over something they can't see over (makes sense, dunnit?) and so they do not get into the gardens protected by these fences. These fences, which are typically three or four feet thick, also have the added benefit of providing tons of habitat for various forms of wildlife, including many that predate upon insects that might otherwise be garden pests. Also provides homes for little varmints like mice, etc. but then this is balanced by the arrival of predator birds, who eat them. The philosophy behind this was that the fence replaces the habitat that was lost when you built your house or cleared your land. I think it's a great idea and it works well here in Nova Scotia.

Recently I heard an ad on the radio for wolf urine. I keep meaning to check this out.
 
Jessica Windle
Posts: 8
Location: Kimberley, BC Canada ZONE 3
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I live in a town in Canada that recently implemented a deer cull, thats how serious our deer problem is.

I have 7.5" INVISIBLE deer fence, its much cheaper than the wire wildlife fence, and although I've only had mine up for one year, I've heard accounts of it lasting for upwards of 10 years. It cost me less than $2000 including posts to fence my one acre property.

Also, Toby Hemenway's book 'gaia's garden' discusses nuisance deer, he has a neat way of using perennial sunflowers and a fedge. I also read, I think in that book, that two fences are better than one because of their lack of depth perception.

And it doesn't get any better than dog patrol!
 
Lloyd George
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also...some folks grow venison i their gardens....just sayin'
 
Terri Matthews
Posts: 468
Location: Eastern Kansas
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Deer hate dogs.

I have my garden inside my fenced yard, and after I got a little 20 pound terrier the deer stopped coming around. I wish the deer well: the orphaned twins that bedded down in the middle of the garden every night (and then took their breakfast from the vegetables) were precious, but I like to eat the green beans too! And, the big stag looked positively SILLY trotting away from an ankle biter like Buddy, but even though he sleeps inside Buddy got rid of all of the deer!
 
Jonathan Fuller
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I have not had a lot of issues with deer in my gardens but I have been told that they hate grey green foliage plants like artichokes. You could grow a 'fence' of artichokes around your garden. Or other similar colored plants.
 
Fred Morgan
steward
Posts: 979
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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Not sure if you can implement this but it does work.

Two strand electric fence, heck one will work. Now, bait the electric fence to encourage the deer to lick it... peanut butter works well. If you don't think this works, imagine licking an electric fence.

Works great on pest dogs and coyotes if you use bacon, or scraps of meat.

To put peanut butter, make tabs of aluminum foil.

Generally, it takes one lesson, and they will never come near again. Probably think they have been hit by the hammer of Thor or something. lol
 
Jonathan Fuller
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Fred Morgan wrote:Not sure if you can implement this but it does work.

Two strand electric fence, heck one will work. Now, bait the electric fence to encourage the deer to lick it... peanut butter works well. If you don't think this works, imagine licking an electric fence.

Works great on pest dogs and coyotes if you use bacon, or scraps of meat.

To put peanut butter, make tabs of aluminum foil.

Generally, it takes one lesson, and they will never come near again. Probably think they have been hit by the hammer of Thor or something. lol


Bears, on the other hand, it only sometimes deters. A friend of mine in VT has lost 5 or 6 hives to bears even with the electric fence bacon trick. They eat the bacon and the bees
 
Jay Green
Posts: 587
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Single strand electric wire about 18-22 in. off the ground...no need to bait it, deer are naturally curious. We've been doing it that way for the past 36 years.
 
Fred Morgan
steward
Posts: 979
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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Jonathan Fuller wrote:

Bears, on the other hand, it only sometimes deters. A friend of mine in VT has lost 5 or 6 hives to bears even with the electric fence bacon trick. They eat the bacon and the bees


I suggest that he was using a electric fence suitable for sheep, not for bulls. I can't imagine willingly touching with your mouth any electric fence, much less one that will knock you down like those rated for very large livestock.

I personally would be trying the lead type of fence with a bear... if you know what I mean.

Water buffalo down here have to have an electric fence, because they will just walk right through barbed wire like it doesn't exist, snapping off post, breaking the wire, etc. But, electric fence will stop them. But, it isn't the same you use for sheep.
 
Fred Morgan
steward
Posts: 979
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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Jay Green wrote:Single strand electric wire about 18-22 in. off the ground...no need to bait it, deer are naturally curious. We've been doing it that way for the past 36 years.


The peanut butter trick gets the raccoons too, who tend to be too smart to just touch an electric fence.
 
Dale Look
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Put the deer in the freezer.
 
Kota Dubois
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Willy Kerlang wrote:.......

Recently I heard an ad on the radio for wolf urine. I keep meaning to check this out.


I saw wolf urine in a garden centre and thought about it. Later I checked my critter cam and saw this. The camera was in the same position, maybe just bumped a degree or two off.
Note the dates.

The first shot shows the wolf signing a urine treaty with me on a comfrey that I had just planted and "watered" in.





 
Laurel Buckwalter
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We have used an electric fence around our garden for many years, baited with peanut butter under aluminum foil, and it has worked for us. I wish I wanted a dog, as that would be easier, but alas... I don't.
 
Walter Jeffries
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Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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Dogs.
 
Willy Kerlang
Posts: 106
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Kota, that's crazy. Around here when one hunter gets mad at another hunter, he sprinkles wolf urine around his deer stand and deer are not seen in that area again for quite a long time.

Although I should say that we do have a dog who roams freely around the property. The deer don't seem to give two figs for her.

Anyway I just wanted to put in a plug for the Plantskydd again (and no, I don't work for them, nor do I sell it.) I had some unknown plants growing near my tomatoes, tall and succulent. I had decided to just leave them, because I thought they were interesting and they weren't hurting anything. A deer ate them last night, but completely avoided the numerous tomato plants that were growing less than two feet away. I had sprayed them with Plantskydd a few weeks earlier. It works, it takes two seconds to apply, and that's all you have to do. You guys can do what works for you, but I will never bother with anything else.
 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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On page 25 of Volume 2 of Edible Forest Gardens, Dave Jacke describes a "chicken moat". It excludes deer and performs several other functions, including housing and protecting chickens, fertilization, and weed barrier. It would be quite a project to surround an entire garden with one, but it looks like the cadillac of all deer exclusion devices, for sure.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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in our area in Michigan either the super high fence or the double fence works best, but if there is a gap in your plan they'll find it.

also I had a gob of extra jerusalem artichokes this year..about a dozen wheelborrow loads...and I put them in my woods, some got buried and some just were on top of the ground bare after the rain, and the deer and other animals, even the birds, are loving them !!! This might work as a deterrant..also I find that if i plant things in the woods edges that the deer really love, they tend to stay closer to the woods..also i put things deer like near the shallows of the pond, and you know they'll be visiting the w ater..so they will eat in the woods and pond FIRST and the gardens later..if they can get to them.

I have fewer losses when I provide an gross amount of food for the wild animals to eat.
 
Theodore Heistman
Posts: 21
Location: Adirondacks
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I am doing a homesteading internship. The people I work for have lots of deer so they have 6-8 foot high fence around the garden beds. I have done a lot of repair on them this spring and also built some new ones. They used bamboo and chicken wire. This spring I used maple saplings and chicken wire. I took 8 foot lengths of sapling and buried them a foot down. I ran a sapling across the bottom and top and then nailed and stapled 2 rows of chicken wire. I threaded the gap with wire, but They have successfully used fishing line in the gap, since the deer don't like it because they can feel it but can't see it and don't keep sticking their head in there.

So it doesn't have t be really expensive if you have a woodlot with saplings in it for fencing.
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Andy Cook
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Location: Alaska
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Way "back in the day" in college I went to a research station in New York State where a lot of deer studies were conducted. They had researched fencing to keep deer out of orchards. They knew deer could jump high or far, but not high and far. They came up with a 6 strand electric fence that angled out at an angle. The angle made the apparent gaps tighter so the deer wouldn't slip through, and they wouldn't try to jump over it since it was also wide and they would walk up to the fence, look up. . . and see the fence.

We have a huge deer issue, including a pet deer. We will start working on a fence buried in a (eventually wide and tall) thorn hedge this summer. The plan being that the hedge will eventually provide all manner of good stuff on the inside for us, and on the outside for the deer. Looking at Hawthorns, sea buckthorns, and other stuff, some thorned some not.
 
sam milnes
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build a fence, a massive, massive fence.
 
Thomas Olson
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It might take a lot of urine to go around a property. I thought of a way to make it a bit easier on you. Stock your urine for a bit. Use a cheap absorbent string and dip it in a container. I don't know if it's effective, it's just a guess.
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
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Location: northern California
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Usually I rely on the baited electric fence idea mentioned earlier, but I'm trying out other ideas. Here in CA with serious fire danger I don't want to run electric fence for about half the year.....the summer half when drought and heat attract deer the most to irrigated plantings....
Diluted urine, sprayed directly on plants and mulch....obviously not for use on salad crops, can be a moderately effective deterrent. I found this to be about the only thing that would repel the southern armadillo (when I was living in GA), but it also kept deer and rabbits away from the sweet potatoes. But here in CA they were eating green tomatoes....I think for the moisture more than anything, and the piss spray didn't work.
Last fall I had just begun to make trial of motion activated sprinklers....with promising results on the new fall stuff.....the acid test will be if they can suffice to keep them off the tomatoes later this summer!
 
Alex Hamond
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Last season I used something that I was taught in elementary school. Basically the story of them burying fish in the soil under where crops were planted. The logic being that it provides additional nutrients. We did this by burying catfish carcases in the garden around the plants.

So the plants did great, and we didn't see a deer track in the garden the entire season. Our neighbors garden had a lot of problems with them. I think that the faint odor of decaying fish in their sensitive noses just makes them not want to be around. It looked like a raccoon or cat tried to dig a few inches one time, nothing else paid much attention to our garden.

This year we haven't buried any catfish out back and a deer has already topped off a couple of our pepper plants. Does it make a difference? Haven't tested enough to know, If someone has fish skin/guts/bones they would normally throw in their compost and has 2 gardens side by side try it out with one of them. Our initial use of fish remains in the garden provided some of the best tomatoes, peppers, and collards we have ever grown, and no deer in a garden surrounded by woods on all sides.
 
Jay Green
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Wonder if simple fish meal would yield the same results? Both for the plant nutrition and for the deer deterrent.
 
Nick Kitchener
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Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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This isn't exactly conclusive evidence, but I constructed a variant of a mandela garden this year.

I was thinking that deer would avoid the area because they can not see a safe escape route once in there.

I have seen lots of deer sign around the perimeter but no deer damage whatsoever. No sign they have actually entered the garden, and no damage even around the outer edges.

I very much suspect that a combination of intense inter-planting, and physical garden shape have combined to create an effective deer barrier.

I live in an area with a major urban deer issue to the point where wolves are now entering suburban areas and hunting them as well as small domestic dogs.
 
Alex Hamond
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Jay, not sure about fish meal. I have a feeling that it wouldn't decay in the same manner a raw fish would. It takes a good bit of time for everything in the soil to break down the remains of a 5lb catfish after filet, certainly longer than it would take fish meal to break down.

Something else that may have played a part in keeping them off our garden in the fall, at least for a short while was that we butchered a deer about 20 feet from our garden, slightly up the hill a few days before thanksgiving. From what I understand they don't like the smell of blood. Spreading some blood/bone meal around the garden might make a difference.

For a more vegan repellant, I hear they stay away from rosemary. Some kind of spray could probably be made from it. There are some other herbs that they don't like.

I have heard that they have some kind of aversion to human hair. If you have a breed of dog that sheds a lot, they probably won't like its hair either.


 
steve fahlbusch
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plant garlic - then hunt in the fall --- best venison you will ever have.....

but it does not keep the deer away
 
Chris Sklarski
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You don't need an 8 foot tall fence to keep out deer(although it wouldn't hurt) all you need to do is limit their "landing zone" on the other side of the fence. Deer wont jump into a dangerous situation or into an area small enough so they can't get a running start to jump back out. 2 fences, 5 feet apart will usually protect a garden of any size.
 
Alex Ames
Posts: 399
Location: Georgia
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I have a short fence but tall posts with a wire strung at the top. Just to create confusion I have tied plastic
twine in a sunburst pattern. I put stakes in the ground about 4 feet from the fence and strung twine along to
give the two fence effect just talked about.

They got in once last year but this year they have stayed out.
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Robert Woden
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I read an extremely small blurb of someone's technique in Mother Earth News (reader submitted). A fella used two strands of fishing line for his fencing, one around two feet high, and the other somewhere around 5 or 6 feet high. As soon as he removed his fencing, his garden was obliterated. His logic behind his success was that although the deer could clear the fence if they wanted, the fact that it was invisible "spooked" them. This seems to be a most economical solution. I'll be trying it next spring. Anyone tried this method before?
 
Alex Ames
Posts: 399
Location: Georgia
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Deer are very comfortable around here. I am trying to stay out of the dog
business and this is a byproduct of that.
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