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Keeping deer away from orchard  RSS feed

 
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I live in SE Iowa where the Whitetail Deer population is somewhat large. I have 30 fruit saplings planted out at our farm where we also sustain deer for hunting. I've already used deer repelling granules and deer repelling soaps but I would like to know if there is anything else i can do to protect my trees. Only one tree has been damaged, a little bit of the top had been nibbled. Building a large fence is a last resort for me.
 
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Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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I'm thinking about this right now. I'm considering planting seabuckthorn in a triangle configuration and planting the sapling in the center.

My reasoning is that the thorns will keep the critters away, it grows fast, and the plant fixes Nitrogen. The challenge is timing. The seabuckthorn probably needs a head start which means you need to have planned the system ahead of time.

Have you tried Sepp's bone sauce?
 
Zane Baty
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I have not tried the bone sauce, I'd never heard of that until now. I'll look into it. Would it work to put three stakes around a tree and wrap it with chicken wire and put a deer repelling soap on the fence? Does anyone know how well the soaps work?
 
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This is a very popular topic.

We use electric fences to keep the out of our garden.

Here are some suggestions:

https://permies.com/t/1805/critters/Sepp-Holzer-recipe-animals-trees

https://permies.com/t/78985/Tree-tubes

https://permies.com/t/74905/Deer-stripping-oak-trees

https://permies.com/t/74230/Living-Deer-Fence-Plant-Options

https://permies.com/t/9842/critters/permie-solutions-deer-fence-issues
 
Zane Baty
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Thank you for the info Anne. I'll read up on those links and see what i can do.
 
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Zane, if you wrap it, yes it will keep deer out. I use 3 tposts and remesh wire (should be cheaper than chicken wire) and easier to handle. It will freestand on its own and easy to flip over to get to trees.

Mine arent saplings. They range from 2ft tall to 10ft tall. I have over 30.

Only issues ive had is cows lifting up the remesh. Tieing it to post should resolve it. Ive also found that keeping it mulched(no grass at all) keeps the cows from trying to get in.

As far as deer, so issues, no cautions. It works. No need to tie to post. rebar spikes will work instead of t posts. Easier to hammer into ground.
 
Zane Baty
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Thanks Wayne, I was planning on doing something like that but i didn't have a good idea on what materials to use. Cows won't be a problem for me, only rabbits and deer. If you don't mind me asking about how much did it cost to fence all your trees?
 
wayne fajkus
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Just over $20 a tree for the fence. The first year, which i did nothing, i lost $300 on a few trees. I bought huge $60 trees that i thought would work cause the deer couldnt reach the leaves. Thought i was smart. The deer girdled them by scraping their antlers on them. I had no cows then. Just the deer.

The sad reality, by fencing 30 or 40 trees, i could have built one solid fence. Im not doing a typical orchard though. No rows. Spaced very far apart.
 
wayne fajkus
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Remesh with no posts should work. Thats probably $12 a tree. 6x6x10ga mesh 5ft tall. Form a circle and flip it over the tree. Easily removed to weed the area. Holes are big enough to reach in to weed it also.

I dont think deer would push it like cows do.

Not sure about rabbits. I have wild rabbits but have not seen any damage from them. They could get thru the fence.
 
pollinator
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wayne fajkus wrote:Remesh with no posts should work. Thats probably $12 a tree. 6x6x10ga mesh 5ft tall. Form a circle and flip it over the tree. Easily removed to weed the area. Holes are big enough to reach in to weed it also.

I dont think deer would push it like cows do.

Not sure about rabbits. I have wild rabbits but have not seen any damage from them. They could get thru the fence.



I've done the concrete remesh circles and they do work.  I made mine about 6' across and it wasn't easy to weed through them.  And I did have deer (or something) flip them off a couple times so three stakes per ring could be in order.  Lifting them up over a 3 year old tree is a two person job if you don't want to risk breaking a twig.
 
wayne fajkus
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This is the only one i have freestanding. You can see how the cut end becomes a tab to interlock the circle.
20180510_131428-480x640.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20180510_131428-480x640.jpg]
 
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Location: SW PA USA
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I also have a big deer problem, and no cow problem. I use 5 foot high fencing and one T-Post per tree. Cost is $50 per 50 foot roll and about $4 per post, $16.50 per tree. If you use a 42 inch diameter for each tree you might get 4 trees done per each roll of fencing.I'd suggest you unroll 12 feet and cut it and make the fencing fit. I don't believe there's actually 50 usable feet on a roll. When you start unrolling it punch a couple long screw driver into the ground to hold the loose end down. I clip one end of the fencing and feed the loose ends thru the holes in the posts. So I don't actually use a loose wire to attach it. On the other end I merely bend 3 loose wire ends so they grab the beginning of the fence.

When I'm putting the posts in the ground I've found that you can put the post in place and push your foot on the plate near the bottom of the post and push it about 6 inches into the ground. I'm too cheap to buy a post driver. So I use a ladder and a sledge. I've found that with the post pushed part way into the ground keeps it fairly stable as you strike the top of the post. When the sledge hits the post let it lay there to stabilize the post. If you don't push the post in you're stuck holding it with one hand and smashing your wrist if you're not careful. I'm on a blood thinner is why I fingered this method out. You now are holding the sledge with two hands which is much safer and easier than one on the sledge and one holding the post in place.

You can make the fence diameter small to only protect the trunk which will only allow the deer to browse the branches as they grow. You need some fence diameter to somewhat protect the branches. The 42 inch diameter fencing does make it hard to trim your tree to a conventional shape. But I've found I'm better of with a non conforming shape as opposed to no tree at all.

I keep looking for garden fencing with rabbit screening built into the bottom foot or two. Maybe some fence maker will read this and use this as a head smacker.

Or you might consider two disposable pie plates one facing up and one down with a spacer between them. The pie plates hold blood meal and keep the rain off it. The upper pie plate needs to be bigger in diameter. The soap idea is an urban legend. I know of a couple who use two bars of the irish soap per each bush or group of flowers. The good news is the deer don't eat the soap, but they do eat the
plantings.

 
Nick Kitchener
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Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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Zane Baty wrote:I have not tried the bone sauce, I'd never heard of that until now. I'll look into it. Would it work to put three stakes around a tree and wrap it with chicken wire and put a deer repelling soap on the fence? Does anyone know how well the soaps work?


Check this thread out:
https://permies.com/t/1805/critters/Sepp-Holzer-recipe-animals-trees
 
Anne Miller
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This is a good article about using soap and other home remedies:

In the category of offensive scents is one of the easiest controls -- hanging bars of smelly soap in the garden, the stronger the scent the better.  I actually buy them in bulk at the grocer, then cut them in half and hang in burlap or cheesecloth stapled to stakes in the garden in early spring.  I find they are still scented going into the winter.  If using soap bars, just don’t hang them directly on shrubs.  The soap will drip down the stems, attracting rodents which eat the soap and the bark too.  I have found some soaps may even attract small mammals such as raccoons, only to be dragged off and nibbled!

Studies actually have been done on soaps to repel deer, finding that those containing coconut oils may attract deer.  The repellent factor seems to be tallow, that part derived from animal fatty acids.  Studies have also found deer can feed to within three feet of soap in the garden.  This means a 100-foot border may need over 30 bars of soap!  I tend to use less, one about every ten feet or near special plants, and hope for the best.


Beware of the many repellents on the market, some expensive or requiring repeated applications, which may or may not work.  None really work for all deer in all locations, depending on so many factors such as deer preferences and population pressure (too little food for too many deer, for instance).

For best control, remember some facts about deer.  They are afraid of anything new, yet learn quickly and adapt to your strategies, so try several repellents and rotate them.




http://pss.uvm.edu/ppp/articles/deerdeter.html
 
Posts: 54
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
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You don't say the "size" or area of the orchard, but fencing may still be your best option...

The key with deer is not the strength of the fence, but the height. This cuts down the cost substantially as you can simply use existing trees, bamboo, rebar, T-posts for support posts and "bird netting" (black plastic mesh, essentially made from a fine fishing type line), zap strapped, wired, or tied (minimum, top and bottom - every 2 ft is better) to these uprights, every 8-10 feet.

Assuming the area is flat you need eight feet of height; anywhere there is slope add two feet on the high side - jumping in from an uphill position is easier, so this demands a higher "fence".

Mesh too pricey or fence like? Four strands of fishing line placed t two, four, six and eight feet (using same upright options above) with flagging/surveyor tape "flags" tied on every few feet will do the trick - but again, height is key, keep to the eight feet. Get a great deal on flagging tape? Replace the fishing line with straight flagging tape - but it may not have years of longevity as the fishing line or mesh would.

Deer do not like things that move - mylar streamers, or old CD's twirl in the slightest breeze throwing light (even moonlight) and both the light and the movement spooks them. The randomness of the movement tends to prevent them from becoming accustomed. These can also be used on the mesh or fishing line "fencing" to make it both visible and disturbing to all animals.

Dog or human hair (groomer or hair dresser) are sworn my many an oldtimer, as is urine, for deterring deer - but they do require repetitive application.  

But I do think enclosing the orchard is still your simplest method - might take a bit of initial effort/cost, but as no heavy posts/wood/concrete is required, it should be fairly inexpensive.  Good luck!
 
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Ditto on the fishing line. We have an orchard of ~20 trees and didn't want the aesthetic or cost of fences around individual trees, or a massive fence around the whole area.

I bought 3/4” metal conduit from the local electric supply store (only $3 or $4) each, used an angle grinder to cut one end into a point, and spent less than an hour by myself driving them in with a ladder and large hammer (spaced ~12-20 feet apart).

Next, drilled holes in each pole every 2 feet, starting about 18 inches off the ground. Into these holes I made little wire rings to run the fishing line through. String up some 20 lb fishing line (the stronger the better, so long as it's invisible), and you have yourself an 8 foot fence!

I know it's been working as I've seen deer tracks go up to the fence and turn around. The key is that they can't see it, bump into it, get scared, and run away.

I think the 400 feet of fence we put up cost less than $100 and took only a few hours to put up.  It's also invisible except for the 3/4 inch conduit, which has already weathered into the landscape.

Let me know if you want any pictures.
 
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Location: Bagdad, Ky
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An outside dog that chases deer would be the best option.
 
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We have heavy deer and moose pressure; 20-30 deer in the area and 4-6 moose including a bull. The combination makes protecting trees a major challenge. Especially when you have neighbors who leave food out for them and have habitualized them to humans. Browse line for deer is 5-6 feet, browse line for moose is 8-9 feet. In autumn or spring in our area the Brix on tree tips and bark for a fruit tree is like crack to deer and especially moose. My recommendation is if you have serious deer or moose browse pressure to relocate your orchard.

We mistakenly planted a very large installation (3+ acres, maybe 1500 plants) of food forest in a tree friendly area of our farm, but it gets massive pressure from animals. Way more than we thought. I have tried all the passive solutions (dangly things, soaps, bone meal, predatory animal piss, my piss, running about yelling) and the work for about 2 weeks with deer and they adapt realizing there is no actual threat or risk. The moose don't care about any of these techniques. They only work if you are dealing with light pressure from deer.

Fishing line fence was a fail, it wasn't successful for more than 48 hours. Netting around individual trees was a fail, lasted until the moose came through, then once damaged the deer go in. Plus the moose damage the saplings when they take down the mesh around the larger saplings. Eventually the trees outgrow the mesh or grow through it and you get bonsai trees with no flowering. Tree tubes worked until plants poke out the top, then the moose and deer chew off the leader growth tips.

We trialed a number of 3D fencing options. The issue we run into is what stops a deer doesn't stop a moose, and what stops a moose doesn't stop a deer. A 6 foot fence, with high tensile lines every 16" from 8" off ground to top, running alternating hot/ground followed by a second fence 36" inset with standard 4 lines hot/ground alternating running at 5000v minimum would do it. Cost would be less than game fence, but not cheap. $5/linear foot for the big one, $3/linear foot for the short. (Canadian) $750-1000 for the energizer if you go solar (250w panel, marine battery, charge controller, 6 Joule energizer minimum). This is based on actual field trials of around a dozen 3D fencing systems over a 7 year period.

A traditional wildlife fence (12ft page wire, barbed line on top, post spacing every 15 ft) works too. But costs a fortune to install and maintain, and is ugly, and a harsh intervention.

If I total up the costs of time dealing with this stuff, and the fencing supplies and labour, I would have saved the cost of moving the whole orchard for sure. We put in a 3D fence around our new market garden and orchard area and are having success keeping the moose out and redirecting 90% of the deer pressure to other areas of the farm. It still needs some tweeks, as the spacing between the two fence lines is set too wide for deer in order to manage the moose, so a seasonal or short term third line on step ins might be needed until the deer are trained to the area. The key with electric fence and wildlife is diligence and persistence. You must keep that fence screaming hot, baited with scent traps on the hot lines, and on 24/7. Otherwise the animals start learning to get around the system and challenge it more. If you keep on it the system can retrain the entire wildlife pattern in your area, which is a far better long term solution than killing them all out or heavy handed fences.

Works okay for wapiti (elk) and bear too. As long as you can get it up past 7500v.

Good luck!




 
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Location: Magdalena, NM, USA
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In southern NM, deer are a pest to my young orchard and gardens and will go over a 5' (at least) fence if there's landing room inside. Keeping all my young trees surrounded by a 4' x 3" x 4"-mesh enclosure of light fencing around 3' across, held in place with two 4' or 5' T-posts, has worked well. I can make around 11 of these enclosures from a 100' roll of fencing. There are no other big wild or domestic grazers on the property and rabbits don't bother the trees. Once the trees are a few years old and the lower branches have been pruned off to above grazing height, the fencing can be removed.
 
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We have deer issues, elk have not bothered my trees but could be a problem. We use welded wire circles, 5 foot tall, 13 foot diameter, and get about 4 from a $50 fifty foot roll. Our ground has lots of rock so sinking posts is not easy nor is planting trees so every one is precious. No posts required for our circles, we just lift them over. And this is affordable for us as I only plant 3 or 4 trees a year, walnut and Bur oak as well as apple, cherry, and plum. The deer love them all.

If the bears become a problem I will have to electrify the fencing but so far so good. The bear manager here has grants to help with the cost.
 
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Location: Appalachian Mountains
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   One thing that worked for me was putting mountain laurel branches (fresh) hung in the branches of my fruiting trees.  Poisonous to deer, they smell it and avoid the fruit tree.  I've also used a slurry mix of wet manure, soft rock phosphate, and smeared it on the trunk, but they go to the branches where it isn't on it and eat them anyway.  The mountain laurel has to be replaced once dried, as it doesn't smell as potent then.  Also have read that Foxglove, also poisonous to them, will repel them.  Worth a try.  Good luck in your endeavors.  It certainly gets frustrating sometimes when we work so hard only to fail over and over due to the critters. 

 
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It is not deer that I am repelling but instead squirrels and horses that greatly enjoy eating the springtime shoots that come up in my various plantings of bamboo.  I had previously tried wrapping them in wire, painting them with commercial repellents,.. etc., etc...  Nothing really worked.  Finally I settled on making a slurry out of used kitty litter and painting it on the bamboo occasionally with a mop ...  It works very well and costs me nothing...  I think it must smell of cats which are natural predators of many creatures.  To make it easy I have a five gallon bucket that I have attached to a two wheel golf-bag caddy so I can wheel it around without much effort.  I initially would mix the slurry up with a drywall mixing element  attached to a drill but found that not really necessary.  I have been using it for about five years with considerable success.  Luckily I have family and friends who have cats and who are very happy for me to have the used litter...  I add water to make it into a consistency similar to mayonaise,,,,   I really don't put much on to be effective...  I think it works in two ways...  The smell of predators,...  and the smell of excrement,..., both of which are repellent to animals..
 
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Location: Central Missouri
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I've got a couple dozen pines coming up.  The deer love them when they are small, apparently the needles are delicious; and when they get about 4 to 5 feet tall, the young bucks have a great time rubbing them to death.

I use plain old sulfur powder, the pure stuff sold to kill aphids.  Just sprinkle some on the needles within browsing reach and the trunk when it gets big enough.  Rotten eggs work better, but mixing with water and spraying is not fun.

Also, since I have plenty of black locust and multi-flora rose bushes, I find thorny lengths and arrange them around the saplings so the deer's nose will have to be used to get at anything on the tree and that works.  But does need regular attention. 

Long term I'm working on a deer barrier about 20 feet wide that will have stuff they like to eat on their side, some stuff they don't like to push through (woodland sunflowers have stalks I don't like to brush with my skin and apparently deer don't either) in the middle and stuff I want to eat on my side, the garden side.
 
Posts: 31
Location: Columbia Falls, MT
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We have a few deer in our area that are always in the neighbors yards, but not mine. 

My kids built a fence a few years ago for my wife for mothers day.  It is 6 feet tall, 6' wide fence boards with 1/4 " spacing. 

Just down the road some folks have a chain link fence 6' tall and have deer in their yard all the time.  We don't.
I figure it is because they can't see inside so won't jump the fence.

If they knew what was growing in my yard it would be a different story.  And it would devastate us as we grow 60%  of our own food.

I know it is not an orchard, but visibility may be a key to this also.  I have seen many reflectors, cd's, special tapes, etc. that bounce any light around.  I know that helps as the deer don't like it.
 
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Location: Southeast PA, zone 6b
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This may not work for your application b/c I have a very young grove on terraces in the woods, but I am pleased with how my system is functioning at the moment. Last fall I carved three terraces into the mountainside and planted around 120-130 seedlings every couple of yards on the berm. Mostly hazelnut with a good number of black locust and other things like plum, crab apple, mulberry, walnut, pecan, black elder, service berry, aronia, snowberry and some others. Plan A was to protect the seedlings with polycultures and bone sauce, but as I read about those efforts failing for many and as I thought about all the work it took to get them and other things planted, I decided to cage them up before they broke dormancy.

One 100' roll of 36" high welded wire costs $60 at TSC and in about 30 minutes this can be cut into 4' sections which make 25 cages 16" in diameter. Lowes sells bunches of 25 untreated 36" long 1x2" yard stakes for under $15. For each tree I pounded 1 stake about 8 inches north of the seedling and slid the cage down over the post. Because I would weave the stake through the welded wire's 2x4" spacing, it was very sturdy and didn't need additional fasteners. The process was very efficient and I could protect 25 trees for $60+$15=$75 or under $3 per tree (and maybe 3-5 minutes per tree). I originally planned to use bamboo for the posts but the lowes stakes saved me so much time it was well worth the extra $0.60 per tree.

This worked for me because they were seedlings. The trees will hopefully outgrow these cages in a year or two, and then I'll move them down the hill to protect new seedlings on yet to be built terraces. Bigger trees of course will require more fencing and this may no longer be practical. Perhaps I'll be competent in the use of polycultures and bone sauce by that point? I also have the entire area surrounded by 30# fishing line tied between trees at three heights - 18", 36" and 54". That currently appears to be "deflecting" them despite very high deer pressure. They will run through it if spooked, but tend to avoid the fishing line. That may be because my terraces currently look no more appealing than the rest of the woods which are full of other green stuff to eat. If it's ever full of nuts and fruit I assume it will be a more attractive target and require additional defenses.
 
Posts: 279
Location: S. Ontario Canada
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Mike Arr wrote:

One 100' roll of 36" high welded wire costs $60 at TSC and in about 30 minutes this can be cut into 4' sections which make 25 cages 16" in diameter. .



I did the same but used an 8 ft cedar sapling post about 2" dia. First open a hole with a 1" steel rod a couple of feet in then drive in the cedar post, leaving about 5ft above ground. When the trees get bigger I can slip another section of fence over and zip tie it to the post.  I put the post in close enough to zip tie tree tubes to the post. I'm pushing the climate zone of many of my trees and find the tree tubes help them get an early start in the spring and protect from rodents. Everything in the tubes have leaves out already while the rest are just starting to show green leaves. 
 
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I wonder if some motion sensor that could play a recording of barking dogs or Quiet Riot or anything that would spook deer could be an option?
 
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I've been told that bars of Irish Spring soap do a good job of repelling deer. Punch holes in the box but leave the soap inside so it doesn't rain-wash-away so fast, and hang in the tree. You can get Irish Spring by the case at Costco.

I've been using a strong peppermint/spearmint concoction (bought at Tractor Supply) to repel mice, so far with good success; I think it doesn't so much repel them as confuse their sense of smell so they can't find feed bags to gnaw open.
 
wayne fajkus
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Mark Tudor wrote:I wonder if some motion sensor that could play a recording of barking dogs or Quiet Riot or anything that would spook deer could be an option?



They make motion sensors that are integrated into a water sprinkler system. I hear those are effective.
 
Faye Corbett
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Location: Appalachian Mountains
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Dennis Barrow wrote:We have a few deer in our area that are always in the neighbors yards, but not mine. 

My kids built a fence a few years ago for my wife for mothers day.  It is 6 feet tall, 6' wide fence boards with 1/4 " spacing. 

Just down the road some folks have a chain link fence 6' tall and have deer in their yard all the time.  We don't.
I figure it is because they can't see inside so won't jump the fence.

If they knew what was growing in my yard it would be a different story.  And it would devastate us as we grow 60%  of our own food.

I know it is not an orchard, but visibility may be a key to this also.  I have seen many reflectors, cd's, special tapes, etc. that bounce any light around.  I know that helps as the deer don't like it.



    Your post reminded me of how the hunting plantations fenced the deer in certain areas, in the deep south.  They used metal fencing (similar to roofing material), turned sideways, and high enough the deer could not see through it.  Yes, I remember someone saying that deer would not jump into something if they could not see what was on the side they intended to jump into.  Smart deer. 
 
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Here in Northern Austria we use sheep wool to deter the deer. It's said they don't like the smell. I also use it to protect my plants for slugs. Making a 5cm wide circular shape with wool around the plant protects it.
 
John Duda
Posts: 178
Location: SW PA USA
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So what I learned here is to use electric fence, or an opaque fence or to have obstructions inside the fence. My own observation for years has been that they won't jump into a small garden. 11'x14' has worked for me. So has 12x16 with a fruit tree at some additional space near the tips.

I'm thinking that I'd want to put any obstructions near the fence. All those tomato cages and tomato stakes. Those pole bean posts. Between all the tomato stakes and or the cages tying that T-shirt I cut into 50 foot long streamer to re-enforce the stakes/cages. I should leave my tools that don't go back into the shed were it'd harass the deer. My wheelbarrow is upside down in amongst the rows. Those raised sprinkler heads shouldn't be near the edges, but located where the deer would see a spear poking up into a landing zone. Extra tree branches shouldn't be piled near the gate, they should be poked into the ground here and there. My row markers should be 2 foot high so I can see them easy. I have the entire fence bottomed out with orange wood boxes keeping the rabbits out. Some buckets and gallon jugs scattered here and there. Extra garden hose held up by the fence so I can mow around the outside.

I don't think the neighbors are going to like my new approach, but then it sure beats having a million volts on the fence that keeps the neighborhoods kids outa the garden.

I'm thinking that 6 foot high red brick wall, double thick, that I saw at Williamsburg Va wasn't as much overkill as I thought at the time.
 
Mark Tudor
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Cob Cottage Company has a big veggie garden and deer that are quite comfortable around people (I was less than 10 feet from them at times) and always trying to get into the fenced area. In some spots there is fence 8-10 feet tall, and in others this wall works, at 6 feet tall and 1-2 feet thick:



The deer can certainly see through the windows to the other side, but the irregular shapes must be enough to deter them.
 
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Electric fence fairly cheap as stated.  You want to disable the fence temporarily so you do not get zapped.  Then wrap a piece of aluminum foil around wire, then smear some peanut butter on the aluminum foil, reactivate the wire.  Deer will be attracted to peanut butter and get zapped.  You have to do this seasonally for educating the younger ones.  Good Luck.
 
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I live next to conservation land and there are too many deer in the area. Last year they ate everything in my yard. This year I put up 7 foot wildlife netting on the back and sides of the yard and put stakes with 30 lb test fishing line in the front. and also bought 2 Guardian sensors to watch the driveway( they sense large movement and emit a ultrasonic sound while flashing a bright light). So far I have had no damage inside the fencing while outside the  plants are eaten. Cost was low-posts from Job Lot and netting from Lowes, the sensors online and they can use ac power or rechargable batteries. In the past I have tried scent and flashing tape on single plants but nothing worked for long. And the birds don't get caught in the netting and the fox and fisher have found a way through even though the bottom of the netting is pegged down every couple of feet(deer will go under as well as over).
 
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A method I've seen used with success is to run a single strand of 30 lbs monofilament fishing line positioned 2,5 feet above the ground around the area to be protected.  The deer can't see the line and when they walk into it, it freaks them out and they go elsewhere. Make sure the line is securely fastened to the poles so it doesn't get knocked down when the deer stumbles into it.  "U" posts work good with the line secured in the metal slot.
 
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W/ 6 acres being transitioned to veg & fruit, fencing is an important topic we are still struggling with, so appreciate ideas being posited. We haven’t made any decisions yet. In addition to deer there are birds, bugs and small varmints to contend with as well.

One possible idea we’ve been mulling is guardian robots 🤖 ...waiting for laughter to subside...seriously, we are already seeing autonomous sentry robots patrolling malls and such, why couldn’t small robots be deployed to patrol and chase off deer, birds or whatever. We watched a public tv piece on growing blueberries and they had recordings of small birds in extreme distress that apparently does a good job of discouraging blueberry hungry birds.  I’ve thought those hand wavy plastic balloon things they deploy along roadsides might be adaptable to deter birds. We have Northern Goshawks and owls who are a good help with keeping chipmunks and such in check.

A small device, either mobile or stationary, could upon detection of an approaching deer would display a pair of red flashing devil eyes and a blood curdling growl (pity any lost inebriated hiker who happens upon the protected field late at night).  For persistent deer who suspect the robo-wolf isn’t all its seems, perhaps a paintball shot at the deer could seal the deal. Obviously stationary guardian devices would require a larger number, but would be cheaper and easier to make.

Inexpensive robots could theoretically be deployed to detect and report destructive insects such as it patrols areas of crops such as asparagus beetles. A small vacuum nozzle could suck up slugs found. These designs are challenging but I don’t think the issues are insurmountable using off the shelf hardware. The heavy lift might be the ai and sensors to allow accurate identification distinguishing between beneficial insects such as a lady bug from its dinner the asparagus beetle. One idea would be to crowd source the detection and control of the mobile anti-bad bug device.  Trusted Permies or Permie-curious around the world could logon and take control of the little bot to seek out the pest of the day and dispatch the bug, maybe with a laser, or deploying another means such dropping some Sluggo pellets on the slug, or suck up the slugs so we can put them in the chicken coop the next morning. Such an Internet game like solution could be finessed so the successful player/helpers would get an endorphin rewards and perhaps earn credits (PermieCoin?) That could be cashed in forstays on the farm or seeds for their own projects, or even a discount on their CSA subscription.

These robot ideas are an outgrowth of ideas we’ve been mulling for tick control, essentially a robot that could move around emitting co2 and attracting ticks to a trap such as sticky tape treated with permethrin. I’d also, in the event of a robot takeover, like to point out this thread and say I welcome our new robot overlords.

 
Anne Miller
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James, I like your idea and it made me think of this thread:

https://permies.com/t/62691/critters/Kid-Project-Keeping-Chickens-Road

James Whitelaw wrote:   One possible idea we’ve been mulling is guardian robots ...waiting for laughter to subside...seriously, we are already seeing autonomous sentry robots patrolling malls and such, why couldn’t small robots be deployed to patrol and chase off deer, birds or whatever.  



Gee, I must live a very sheltered life ... I already knew that I do.  I have never seen any robots anywhere.  The big city that we go to doesn't have any that I have seen.
 
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Edit:  Just saw that Mike already suggested this, so call this a second vote for monofillament

My mom has had great success using fishing line.  You just string it out like a fence about chest high on the deer.  Deer are usually out in twilight and can't see the fishing line.  they don't trust it when they can feel something they can't see so they won't try jumping over it.

Best to string two strands, one a few feet in front of the other, just in case one of the lines breaks.

My mom started doing this probably 15 years ago and hasn't had any problems with deer since, she regularly gets them wandering around her yard (outside the fishing line fence)
 
Mike Jay
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I think there must be some subtlety to the fishing line fence method because it didn't work for me.  It kept them out for about a week (this was a new garden) before they started hopping over it.  I suspected that dew on the fishing line made it visible and less scary to them.  But I'm assuming Mike has dew in SC so maybe that isn't is.

My creative deer fence experiment is underway but it's way too soon to say if it works.  Here's a link to the permies thread on it.  Since this picture we added chicken wire to the bottom to keep bunnies out.  I believe my materials cost is about $60 per 100 feet (including the chicken wire).  I've planted living fence shrubs around the wavy pattern and will lay out more cardboard and wood chips on top to smother the grass and mulch the shrubs.  Herbs, flowers, dynamic accumulators and other plants will be added as well.  You can see two Nanking Cherries in the foreground (10" high twigs) next to the cardboard.
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