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Thorny Hedgerow for deer exclusion.

 
Kirk Hockin
Posts: 67
Location: Merville, BC
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Hey all, I'm posting an idea I've been considering, looking for feedback and resources. First though, some context:

I have a 5 acre parcel on Vancouver Island (PNW climate). It is a bit inland, so coastal effects are minor (no salt wind, etc...). The property is a rectangle, busy road along one edge, a quiet road along another edge and woods/forest along the 3rd and 4th edges. Surrounding properties are a mix of wooded rural residential (~5 acres) and agricultural pasture (~30-80 acres). We also live in a 'no gun hunting' area, though bow hunting is legal. I am not a hunter.

I hope to develop large areas of the property as food forest/savanna.

Obviously deer pressure is high, they come right up to the back door at night and crop the tops off our cherry tomatoes. The property was a 'country horse people residence' for 40 odd years, so it's mostly pasture with decrepit short fencing along the perimeter, as well as a short fence around the 'yard' by the house. We've installed a high, 7.5' fence around our new veggie garden, which keeps the deer out just fine.

I'm not enthusiastic about trying to fence the whole property line with high fencing, too expensive, too resource intensive (metal wire, posts, digging labour/machines) and too much like living in a compound. We have a lazy old city dog who will chase deer, but spends nights inside (when the real damage occurs). We plan to get a younger dog soon, and I plan to use 'magic bone sauce' to protect individual trees. However, bonce sauce won't help herbaceous plants and dogs are no guarantee (nor problem free).

Now the idea: I've been considering the adage that deer don't like to jump both high and wide, nor do they like to jump into unseen or narrow landing zones. As such I am thinking of planting an outside hedgerow of thorny plants, piling brush and tree trimmings behind the thorny layer, followed by a second line of productive fedge plants on the inside. I hope if the total width is 5+ feet, and maximum height is 5+ feet, it will exclude deer. Thorny plants I'm considering are Black Hawthorn, Nootka Rose, Sea buckthorn, Barberry. I would also include various insectary, nutrient accumulator and nitrogen fixers to support the main plants. I'm also considering adding some taller trees to the mix for nuts or timber. The fedge side is as of yet unplanned, truly the thorny barrier is the main purpose. I have no plans to create a 'pleached' hedgerow in the British style, since I'm not worried about containing cattle or sheep.

Now for the questions: How could I establish this hedgerow and increase chances of success (tips/techniques)? What other plants would you suggest? Would you plant right to the decrepit fence line or leave a gap (if so, how wide)? Can you suggest any resources for further reading/research, especially regarding establishment techniques? Have you any examples where this has been successfully done?

Thoughts? Comments?

Thanks!
 
Matu Collins
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It's worth a try and it may help reduce deer pressure, but if you have a driveway in for yourself the deer will find it and use it
 
Kirk Hockin
Posts: 67
Location: Merville, BC
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Luckily that area of the property could be bridged with metal fencing and a gate.
 
Matu Collins
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Good! I'm interested in how it works for you. Deer pressure is a huge problem where I live. I've discouraged them with winding raised hugels and thorny bushes but when they're hungry and there are enough of them they are a nuisance. They have destroyed so many of my trees. At least where I am there are lots of other things in the woods to eat. My suburban neighbors are not so lucky

 
John Wolfram
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Location: Lafayette, Indiana
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As someone who is also raising free range deer on their property, I'd suggest you take measures to fulfill the predator roles that existed before we decimated their numbers. The good news is that even if you're not a hunter there are people who will actually pay you for the privilege to play wolf/bobcat on your property. Last weekend, a father & son team spend the day working on my land in exchange for two months of hunting rights.

As for the living fence, I would be surprised if it actually kept deer out. I had a place on my property that was a mix of young honey locust (ouch), rose bushes, and osage orange (double ouch) that the deer seemed to adore. I guess the mama deer thought it made for a wonderfully safe place for their fawns.
 
Duncan McKeever
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Location: 6a Midwest
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I would recommend a fence. I have 3 acres for 5 years now, and I spent more time and money putting wire cages around my trees, fooling with all kinds of egg sprays, losing trees, having trees growth severely retarded by browsing, bucks rubbing Korean nut pines to death. I have to say I didn't try to bone sauce, but imagine keeping it on all the necessary trees in 5 acres? It's a huge job. I tried to build a hedge, mostly Maximilian sunflower, which deer don't like to walk thru. Was going to add blackberry and other such but moved onto different projects. Maintaining a hedge of that size is a huge job, and they'll find a way thru somewhere, anyway. The only way to keep them out is to build a fence. You don't have to be that fancy, unless there are neighbors to impress. 8' game fence and 10' t-posts and a larger solid post every so often. Mine is droopy, cheap, sloppy, but it works. No need for a tight, straight, spiffy-looking fence - where in nature do you see straight lines? Yeah, a fence costs, but then you can relax, enjoy yourself, and not have to protect each single tree. I got used to the fence and don't notice it - it's not that visible against the trees in front and behind it. You don't have to do it all at once. I fenced out a small area first, I'm currently expanding it to encompass 1/2 of the lot, and later I'll expand it to two acres (when the brush/trees on the edge of the property grow up enough that the fence is not visible to neighbors). God, the amount of energy we expend because of those stupid animals which are extremely overpopulated. The only thing I have in common with deer hunters is I'd love to kill every deer I see, but it wouldn't be sport, more like bloody murder. Tongue in cheek, but those critters are relentless and merciless.
 
Peter Ellis
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No direct experience yet, but I keep mental notes about these kinds of questions, because when we get where we're planning on going, we're going to need lots of solutions.

So, in no particular order from what I've gleaned reading - Agreed about deer not liking to jump wide or blind, so a "double wall" looks like a good idea.

If you don't do something to plait the hedge (a number of approaches to this, from pretty haphazard British hedgerow style to the really attractive Belgian Fence) then you've just got some trees and bushes for the deer to push through. As noted above, they may decide the thorny hedge makes great bedding down territory and could be an attractant, not a barrier!

I don't know that I would bother going for thorny plants so much as fast growing things that will insoculate quickly and make the living barrier you need.

I've seen some really interesting, and, I think. wise advice to the effect that the "barrier" hedge should be laid out such that it pushes deer along their natural pathways as much as possible. If you try to just block a heavily traveled game trail that runs, say, from bedding spot to watering hole, you are likely to fail, as they will push through to get to both of those things. If your barrier can run so that they can just slide along past on their way to and fro, it's going to have better odds of working.

The same person who recommended not trying to entirely bar the game trails also suggested making the barrier hedges out of something the deer might be interested in eating. It seems like this serves a couple of purposes. By offering the deer easily accessible munchies, and letting them slide along toward their natural destinations, you give them less motivation to get to the other side of the barrier.

Sepp swears by bone sauce and some people have reported success.

Pick your battles! Plan your planting strategy such that you can heavily protect young trees in manageable areas, shifting the focus of protection as they mature enough to stand on their own. Depending upon your overall plan, it may make sense to do a manageable area of new trees with corresponding boundaries each year, so that you do not have the multiple burdens that come with doing it all at once.

Think of the deer as another product of your property and get a yield, by harvesting for your family's consumption and/or by letting people hunt on your property for some kind of fee.

 
Jay Grace
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Location: Nauvoo, AL
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Man, I wish I had a deer problem like this.

Look up Flying Dragon Citrus. It makes a good two and four legged living fence. Grows good to zone 5.
bad thing the thorns are so large it looks that it could pose a problem for truck and tractor tires.
 
Lorenzo Costa
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I have been thinking about this aspect to for quite a time now. I have 3.5 hectares where there are a lot of deers and wild boars. they both are a real big problem. the rest of my land is a woodland of another 2.6 hectares that I will leave free to range for them and has one boundary made up by a yearlong creek. It's to down the hill to use water and I like sort like zone 5 stuff so I'll not speak about fencing it.
the 3.5 hectares are my burden. I've been on to living fences, and hedgelaying there are threads on this, here's one, just to have more ideas: http://www.permies.com/t/1437/woodland/Planning-growing-hedge-living-fence
I'v been putting together some numbers, if I fence out the 3.6 hectares, knowing that on side it's already fenced by my neighbor I'll work, let's say one month and probably have a fence for the next thirty years, using what we usually use as poles for fences, chestnut poles. ,
If I put a living fence I'll have to: first, plant all the tree's protecting them form the deers and the boars that sort of love to flip everything around if they don't like to eat it; then wait three or four years to have a benefit from the growing hedge.
I read this book on hedges: Murray Maclean, Hedges and Hedgelaying, the title was recommended on the thread I highlighted before, and there is a good table showing how many plants one should use it goes from 1 metre length hedge to 1 km, and from 6 inch spacing in between plants to 36 inch depending on plant growing space: so for a 655 metre hedge with 12 inch spacing the author calculates 2,182 plants
for the plants he considers a lot of varieties, because what he insists on is the importance even of wildlife conservation, as birds or small mammals, and I agree with his vision. we have to think of the hedge as an exlcuding barrier but even a wildlife housing and food feature.
Hawthorn should be not less than 60% of the plants variety beacuse it has a quick growth, then he speaks a lot of blackthorn, dog rose, field maple, hazel, if we speak of small trees or shrubs. if one wants tu use tree's the spacing is more and the time to wait to have a close hedge is longer. I would think of two more that in the book the author doesn't list: black locust, and Osage Orange quick growing and full of thornes, one could put them mixed with other plants and shrubs.
I like the idea of having yields for the deers on the hedge so they don't get to want to cross the hedge. Hedgelaying is another possibility to work quick and fast but you always get to wait three or four years. the hedge though gets thicker, even though there is maintenance to do every three or four years depends on what you want and how high. I think I'll end up fencing my plot though I will try to fencing with poles in a classic way and establish my living fence behind the day I have my poles rotting and want to take them off I'll have a living fence behind at least it will establish well and be stable for the moment it will have to be useful. the small birds and mammals will benefit from the hedge that grows even if there is a fence so I will give anyway a yield to someone.
the big point is the time we have and what we harvest form our plots.
 
Andy Cook
Posts: 44
Location: Alaska
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This is the fence I put up at our place in SE Alaska where deer are walking by us all the time: http://www.permacultureactivist.net/articles/Better%20Deer%20Fence%2081.pdf

I modified it by using 5' welded wire instead of chicken wire, a run of 3/8" yellow poly rope on the outside of the fence as well as the the two strands on the inside, and a run of electric fence on the outside to keep bears out. No deer inside the fence for two years and counting.

We are in the process of planting thorny plants along the inside of the fence to eventually become a protective hedge around the property.
 
richard valley
Posts: 240
Location: Sierra Nevada mountain valley CA, & Nevada high desert
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I have to agree with Andy. We have two ranches. Our upper ranch is in the Sierra Navada range in California, the lower spread is in the high desert of Nevada. We use electric chargers in both locations.
In the mountains Bear are the biggest problem, to some extent Deer. A 6' roll wire fence with 6 strand of hot wire outside keeps bear out of 3 corrals and two barns. For deer, some people use, 1 strand of electric wire 5' out from the fence about 4' high, for deer, to keep them from jumping the fence. On a new fence, peanut butter on aluminum foil hanging on the wire will teach the deer what it is.

On the High Desert there are, wild horsed,rabbits, kangaroo rats and other rodent. The outer chain link fence keeps out the wild horses inner fences, for the gardens, corrals and groups of trees have three rows of electric wire, outside the horse wire fences. The upper two hot wires are to keep our cows, goats, and horses from eating what we plant, the lower wire for rodents. Two foot or higher chicken wire will keep out rabbits, with a small part of the wire into the soil.

Inside the areas fenced with chain link fencing, chicken wire keeps the rabbits from eating newly planted trees.

We use the highest Joule fence chargers we can get 5 or hotter, with 12ga wire.

We love the wild horses , but not in our in the gardens.

Richard
 
Andy Cook
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Good one Richard, I forgot to mention the aluminum foil with peanut butter to train the critters to stay away. It works.
 
Russell Olson
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Location: Zone 4 MN USA
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Andy Cook wrote:This is the fence I put up at our place in SE Alaska where deer are walking by us all the time: http://www.permacultureactivist.net/articles/Better%20Deer%20Fence%2081.pdf

I modified it by using 5' welded wire instead of chicken wire, a run of 3/8" yellow poly rope on the outside of the fence as well as the the two strands on the inside, and a run of electric fence on the outside to keep bears out. No deer inside the fence for two years and counting.

We are in the process of planting thorny plants along the inside of the fence to eventually become a protective hedge around the property.


I was in the process of writing a post on deer when I saw this thread.
This design looks great, does it need the electric fence if I'm only keeping deer out?
I was considering fencing an area I will be starting a food forest from this spring, the deer eat anything outside of a fence.
I'm going to revamp my post, I have some cool observations I'd like to share.
 
Andy Cook
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Russell Olson wrote:
Andy Cook wrote:This is the fence I put up at our place in SE Alaska where deer are walking by us all the time: http://www.permacultureactivist.net/articles/Better%20Deer%20Fence%2081.pdf

I modified it by using 5' welded wire instead of chicken wire, a run of 3/8" yellow poly rope on the outside of the fence as well as the the two strands on the inside, and a run of electric fence on the outside to keep bears out. No deer inside the fence for two years and counting.

We are in the process of planting thorny plants along the inside of the fence to eventually become a protective hedge around the property.


I was in the process of writing a post on deer when I saw this thread.
This design looks great, does it need the electric fence if I'm only keeping deer out?
I was considering fencing an area I will be starting a food forest from this spring, the deer eat anything outside of a fence.
I'm going to revamp my post, I have some cool observations I'd like to share.


I don't think the electric would be needed. The key for the deer is walking up to the fence and seeing the strands over their head.
 
Bill Bradbury
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Yes, hedgerows and sharing are the permaculture answers to deer wanting to eat. We humans move into the forest and then wish to exclude the wild animals. What right do we have to exclude deer from their habitat, besides paying another human some money? Did you pay the wild for the right to live where you do?
I have seen the carnage that these fences wreak on mostly deer when they attempt to jump it and fall. The rich types here have erected a fence all the way across their large suburban sprawl on the bench of our little mountain valley which becomes littered with the corpses of deer that are just trying to eat. The 3 permaculture landscapes that I have designed, installed and maintain all incorporate the wild into the fertility sequence.
We can easily feed ourselves and the wild critters, creating a harmonious bounty for all!
 
Russell Olson
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Bill Bradbury wrote:Yes, hedgerows and sharing are the permaculture answers to deer wanting to eat. We humans move into the forest and then wish to exclude the wild animals. What right do we have to exclude deer from their habitat, besides paying another human some money? Did you pay the wild for the right to live where you do?
I have seen the carnage that these fences wreak on mostly deer when they attempt to jump it and fall. The rich types here have erected a fence all the way across their large suburban sprawl on the bench of our little mountain valley which becomes littered with the corpses of deer that are just trying to eat. The 3 permaculture landscapes that I have designed, installed and maintain all incorporate the wild into the fertility sequence.
We can easily feed ourselves and the wild critters, creating a harmonious bounty for all!


I can appreciate that perspective, however the idea that they are willing to forgo eating every single thing I plant isn't true. They are voracious and overpopulated here. Anything I don't protect becomes their food.
I'm very willing to plant hedgerows along the fence so that they can feed on things, I'm even ok with planting specific things for their benefit.
I'm even willing to leave areas unfenced in certain spots. I plan on trying a feed plot for them the opposite end of the property from where I am starting a forest garden.
I simply don't know how I can have the type of permicultural property without some sort of deer control.
Any suggestions? Keep in mind I haven't found anything they don't eat to the point of killing it. I even have no native seedlings due to their browsing.
 
Bill Bradbury
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There are a few things that you can plant to help with pressure on your more delicate edibles and I like to plant them first to get the browse established. These are just a few of the browse species that grow well here in northern Utah; Staghorn Sumac, Elderberry, Chokecherry, Serviceberry, Clover, Alfalfa, Siberian Almond, Nanking Cherry and whatever trees are at hand. Sumac is my #1 go to shrub for deer. They love it and it can be browsed to the ground without dying. Thank you for keeping in mind that sharing and cooperation are better than hording and dominance.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Your best bet would be to plant Osage Orange and plait the branches for a deer deterring hedge row. To give the plantings a chance to get established, here is an old trick that really works; use Blood or Blood meal, most non predators do not like the smell of death and will avoid it. I use blood meal around new plantings, this is spread 1-2 feet wide in a circle far enough from the planting that the deer can't reach over it. If it's a tree, I do the same and also put a fence ring at least four feet from the trunk, staked to the ground so it can't be pushed easily, the blood meal or fresh blood is spread on the outside of the fence ring, again 1-2 feet wide. So far no deer problems and I live smack in the middle of a series of deer trails, used daily for their travels.
 
leila hamaya
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Russell Olson wrote:
I can appreciate that perspective, however the idea that they are willing to forgo eating every single thing I plant isn't true. They are voracious and overpopulated here. Anything I don't protect becomes their food.
I'm very willing to plant hedgerows along the fence so that they can feed on things, I'm even ok with planting specific things for their benefit.
I'm even willing to leave areas unfenced in certain spots. I plan on trying a feed plot for them the opposite end of the property from where I am starting a forest garden.
I simply don't know how I can have the type of permicultural property without some sort of deer control.
Any suggestions? Keep in mind I haven't found anything they don't eat to the point of killing it. I even have no native seedlings due to their browsing.


some form of ceanothus would be good. its one of the most prized and desired food plants for deer, its very pretty and tall, and it comes back from the roots after being eaten. besides that its a nitrogen fixer...

maybe you want a dead hedge...i have been thinking about this idea and more and more i like it =).

basically using whatever branches and scrap trimming you can get to make a big mound, wide and tall as you can...then planting all your hedge plants underneath it and around it to take over eventually.

my friend was telling me this is really common in canada...people bulldoze or tractor everything off to the edges and then pile on trimmings to make it really tall around the edges of their fields...then plant the climbers/thorny brambles/trees within it to eventually take over the "dead" mound....making a big mound of dirt to start off with would give it even more height, quicker....
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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