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permie solutions to deer fence issues?

 
Alex Brands
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I recently visited a recently established community garden that is sited near some woods.  It is surrounded by a deer fence made by hanging plastic deer fence/screen on a series of poles.  Various weedy vines are now climbing the fence, presenting a maintenance issue.  Right now it's not a problem, but I think if the vines are allowed to grow, their weight will pull down the screen.

I suggested planting some tough clump forming plants along the bottom of the fence to reduce the incidence of the vines via competition.  I was thinking comfrey in the sunnier spots, and hosta in the shadier spots.  Any other suggestions?  This is in zone 6, Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania.

As a longer term alternative to the fence, I was wondering if it's workable to establish a deer proof hedgerow around the garden.  Has anyone successfully done this?  A low fence may still be necessary to keep out the groundhogs, but that would be easier to maintain than the current tall fence.

Alex
 
Gord Welch
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Location: Oregon
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Pigs are my solution and they work perfectly. I haven't seen a deer on the property since the day I first brought my pigs on the land.
 
Kirk Hutchison
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gordwelch, would you care to elaborate? How do the pigs keep the deer off? What is the pig/acre ratio?
 
Gord Welch
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Location: Oregon
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Not sure what else to say.... um.... I have some pigs on some land.... the dear would have to cross the fence area in order to get to the garden area.... but dear don't like pigs... most wild animals don't like pigs.... look like bears... and nobody wants to mess with a bear.

pigs/acre is something that can only be determined by the shepherd(? not sure what the term would be for pigs!).
 
Alex Brands
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An interesting idea, but I think pigs would likely eat a lot of the veggies in this community garden, and I doubt anyone would be willing to take care of them!

Alex
 
Kirk Hutchison
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gordwelch wrote:
pigs/acre is something that can only be determined by the shepherd(? not sure what the term would be for pigs!).


swineherd thanks for the info
 
Gord Welch
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Location: Oregon
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Them can be one... As for fencing, I like a 3-d fence if you have the space... much less costly than an 8'er.
 
Kirk Hutchison
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I'd say you should take a hedge-laying class. If you plant densely (and with thorny shrubs), the deer shouldn't be able to get in.
 
Gord Welch
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Location: Oregon
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What sort of shrubbery? Deer can jump 8' if they're scared and almost that high under normal circumstances.
 
Jordan Lowery
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start with a string fence, running lines of whatever every 6-12 inches from the bottom up(space them closer near the bottom). and then at the same time. plant useful shrubs just on the inside of the string fence. thicket forming shrubs. preferably ones that deer don't like, and preferably useful. eventually in a couple of years you can take out the string fence and now you have a deer fence that is alive, provides habitat for birds, food, medicine, beauty, could be N fixing, dynamic accumulators, and more.
 
Kirk Hutchison
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I don't know what kind of plants would be suitable in Pennsylvania. In my climate I would try mesquite or something similar. Anything that grows to more than deer jumping height. But if it is not quite that tall I would imagine you could just plant two layers. I wouldn't think deer would jump into and area they couldn't even see. You can also grow some thorny vines in the hedge, like blackberries.

Edit: check out this page : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyracantha
 
Brenda Groth
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deer will only jump where there is clear site..so they won't jump over a bush if they can't see through it to the other side..but they will crawl under that hanging fence for sure..they are great at ducking and crawling under low hanging brush every day so this is just something more to crawl under.

best deerproofing is having 2 layers..and inside and outside layer of fences..sometimes just wires..as they don't want to trip on them and they like to be close to what they jump over.

also a  solid board fence they can't see over will work..they don't know what is on the other side..they go easily over my picket fencing but won't go over the lattice...with vines on it..

also consider planting plants for deer OUTSIDE of your fence..here they LOVE malva (checker mallow) and it grows like a weed and is edible for humans..im me for seeds ..
 
Raine Bradford
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Location: West Fork, Arkansas
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Brenda you have some great ideas. Thank you! I just moved onto ten acres and am faced with a huge deer population. They ruined my garden last year despite all my old tricks.
I went ahead and bit the bullet and had a 32 x 32 by 8 feet tall permanent fence built to assure I have a garden but of course that's not near enough space for any permaculture crazed person!
So... I am trying a couple more things and I would love some input from others. First I bought 400 feet of deer netting. I'm going to put up some temporary posts and use some existing trees as posts to attach it to. My idea is to eventually enclose my property with a living deer-proof
hedge and move this netting around as my hedge
develops. I'm not sure what plants will work best. A mixture of course would be ideal. Toby Heminway suggests perennial Maximillion sunflowers. I was thinking about bamboo... Maybe gooseberry? What plants has everyone had success with? I am in NW Arkansas, zone 6.
Also I am curious about how to lay this out. Brenda says that they won't jump into an area that they can't see. Does that mean a hedge could be shorter than 8 feet if it was
wider?
 
Kay Bee
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Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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I use 2 four foot fences that are ~5 feet apart (moat) surrounding my deer-vulnerable area . The deer don't seem willing to jump even a short fence if there are two of them.
 
John Polk
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The double fence works because:
A deer can jump high, and a deer can jump long, but he can't do both at the same time.

The 'vision barrier' fence can also work...If he can't see the goodies (AND can't see what he is jumping INTO), he probably won't.
 
Raine Bradford
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So how does that translate into a living barrier hedge? If you had a hedge that was 5 feet high and 5 feet thick and made up of dense plants that the deer couldn't see through... would that work?
 
John Polk
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Probably. Who wants to blindly leap into the unknown?
 
Raine Bradford
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Haha!!! I've done it way too many times!
 
Kay Bee
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Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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John Polk wrote:The double fence works because:
A deer can jump high, and a deer can jump long, but he can't do both at the same time.

The 'vision barrier' fence can also work...If he can't see the goodies (AND can't see what he is jumping INTO), he probably won't.

I've heard the "can't do both at the same time before" and it was what convinced me to build the moat. however, since putting the fence up, I have seen the deer make leaps that would easily clear both fences when they are startled to move. I sometimes have to hit something metal against the fence to shoo them away from staring at me and browsing while I work the orchard.

So, they CAN jump far and tall, but for whatever reason don't seem inclined to do so for general browsing activity. My fence is just welded wire attached to t-posts, so they can see through it. I'd love to know the deer psychology, but for now I'm just glad it works to keep them out while the trees get established.
 
Chris Dean
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Raine Bradford wrote:Haha!!! I've done it way too many times!

lol
 
Parker Maynard
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Location: Western Pennsylvania
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Suprised I haven't heard mention of any of the "ol tricks." I've heard of people having success with...

1) A few strands of fishing line encircling the area you want protected- apparently the deer are confused by a barrier they can feel but can't see.

2) Alliums in thick border plantings around the area you wanna protect - maybe if used with a fence or fishing line the deer won't try to hard to get at something they don't particularily like to graze (Ive seen this done successfully around acres of corn on a csa farm in country where the deer are as numerous as the mosquitoes)

3) Hair, lotsa human hair laid around the garden

4) Bear crap

5) I'm in PA as well and I'm going off a video Paul posted about a British? fella laying down hawthorn trees to form a really nasty protective hedge. Hawthorns are native to this range, they grow in a pretty wide range of soils, provide berries for the birds, and I guess the berries can be made into a tonic for the heart...I bought washington hawthorns and have them in nursery beds, they'll go out along the property line before they wake up in the spring. We're surrounded by corn fields.

It's definately a long term sorta barrier project. Here's the vid http://youtu.be/_H0yst93XO8
 
Raine Bradford
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Interesting video! Looks like a lot of work, but a permanent barrier for sure. I guess he was building it for livestock but you could do something similar for deer if you left it a little taller. As far as all the old tricks, I have used most of them (minus the bear crap) with mixed results. The fishing line has actually worked fairly well in the past. Just needs constant maintenance because some critter is always running into it and pulling it down. However last year we had a pretty severe drought and the deer were desperate. I guess when the deer have to choose between starvation and being startled/poked/confused, all the old tricks stop
working. So I'm thinking long term and a barrier hedge is definitely in my future.
 
Jordan Lowery
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i just have a string fence, its string strung on poles horizontal, starting at ground level, from there you string a line every 6 inches up to 3-4ft, and then go to 12inch spacing. works EXCELLENT for deer, not so much other critters like racooons, chickens, ducks, dogs, etc.... but ive never had a deer go through it and we have 12 deer living on our property full time. and its extra extra cheap to make compared to normal fencing.

what i also suggest is once the string fence is up, plant a living hedge on the inside, when its full sized and does its job you can take down the string fence and move onto another area.
 
Raine Bradford
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This sounds great. What type of string do you use? Do you have many problems with critters breaking it?
I have 200 small trees and shrubs on order for this spring from the Missouri conservation dept. Hopefully it will be a good mixture to keep the deer out eventually. So I could put up the string fence first and then do my planting on the inside of it... I'm getting excited now.
 
S. G. Botsford
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As a low cost way to make fence: Used pallets.

It takes 3 pallets and 2 2x4's per section.

Lay two pallets on the ground, with the edges of the deck boards adjacent to eachother.

Run 2 2x4's through the pair.

Stand the pair up at around a 70 degree angle, leaning OUT from the protected area.

Use the 3rd pallet to prop it up. It should lean against the UPPER pallet.

If 2x4's are easier to get than pallets use a 3rd 2x4 instead. I suggest nailing it at the top. It's easy to knock it out, and have 2 pallets fall on you.

3.5 feet of 8 foot high fence done. Move down and repeat.

The bottom edge will rot, and you need to periodically walk through and give each one a shake to make sure that it's stable and solid.
 
Jordan Lowery
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Raine Bradford wrote:This sounds great. What type of string do you use? Do you have many problems with critters breaking it?
I have 200 small trees and shrubs on order for this spring from the Missouri conservation dept. Hopefully it will be a good mixture to keep the deer out eventually. So I could put up the string fence first and then do my planting on the inside of it... I'm getting excited now.


i use a line i get at the hardware store, its 8000ft for 15$. uv resistant, reusable for years, ive used the same line to start multiple barriers of living fence. i read above that someone mentioned fishing line. the deer NEED to see the line, if they dont they just walk right into. i use a black color which is invisible at a distance, but clearly visible up close.

you can use trees already in place as "fence posts" for wrapping the string around, in some places ive been able to do over 200 ft without having to use a pole i made or bought by using trees that were in places and making the living fence bend and weave to that line, which also creates lots of edge. and we all know edge is good.

like i said other critters can get by the fence, this only works for deer. but they do not damage it.
 
Raine Bradford
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This is such a simple and obvious solution. I cant believe it's not the first thing mentioned in every deer prevention discussion. Thanks again!! I'm getting my string today!
 
Ap Cook
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Location: Independence, MO
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first post here - thanks for this great idea! the deer have shut me down mid-summer each year so I hope this solution proves effective as I really don't want to deal with a solid fence.
stringfence.jpg
[Thumbnail for stringfence.jpg]
string fence
 
Jordan Lowery
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just make sure the bottom is secure. IF they try to get in, its going to be in the bottom 2ft. it would also be wise to start building a living hedge on the inside.
 
Ap Cook
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Location: Independence, MO
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that's the plan. I left an opening on the side where their trail continues up into the neighborhood, but the fence now cuts off where it enters the yard and crosses my beds. hopefully they just detour around the fence and on up their trail now that they're not walking straight through a salad bar.
 
Raine Bradford
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I just started getting my string fence put up last week. I did a little research about what kind of string would be best and settled on polypropylene baling twine. I got 20,000 feet for $28 at my local farm supply. Any of the sisal stuff won't last. What kind of plants are you planting for your barrier hedge?
 
Ap Cook
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Location: Independence, MO
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ah I went with the sisal as I'm fairly averse to using plastics, especially outdoors, whenever it can be reasonably avoided (once a year I remove a literal truck load of trash from along my frontage, mostly plastic). sisal is supposed to be plenty strong and sunlight resistant, but whenever it breaks I'll just repair it. plus as I grow the hedge I can abandon the string without concern. haven't decided what kind of plants yet tho - still need to do my homework. I already have some wild berry bushes in the area of the fence that are pretty thorny, so that's a start.
 
Raine Bradford
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Yeah that's true about the sisal. And it's pretty inexpensive when you need more. I don't know how much you need but they make the baling twine in sisal also. You get a whole lot for very little money. As far as the plants for a barrier hedge, I ordered 375 trees and small shrubs from the Missouri department of conservation: http://extra.mdc.mo.gov/cgi-bin/mdcdevpub/apps/seedlings/search.cgi?record=all
They sell bundles of 25 trees for $8. I don't know what states they will or won't sell to...or if that even matters. But I am in Arkansas and they sold to me. Haven't got the trees yet, probably next week or so. So I can't vouch for the size or quality but they came recommended by someone else here at permies. They had a huge selection though and I ordered 8 different varieties that are "thicket forming". We'll see! I'm excited anyway.
 
Morgan Morrigan
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If you are stringing line anyway, you might put in some diagonals , and make a Belgian fence.
 
Bill McRoy
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John Polk wrote:Probably. Who wants to blindly leap into the unknown?

Quote, unknown source: "I love the recklessness of faith. First you jump, then grow wings."
 
Laura Sweany
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I know this is an old thread, but I'd like to offer a different method for deer control that also controls for racoon and other low-to-the-ground predators, while creating a chicken run and protecting berry vines and bushes. This stacks functions like crazy!

Here are 2 pages of photos from an amazing permaculture site on Vashon Island, WA where there is VERY SEVERE deer pressure. This is one of the "tall AND wide" versions of deterrence. They used lightweight plastic fencing to make a chicken run around 1/2 of their garden (to about 4' high) and then the interior poles are another 3' tall, with 2 strands wire . They keep the grass mown on the exterior edge of the entire circle, and have 1 strand of electric fencing right at ground level all the way around. In the remaining part of the circle where they don't have chicken run, they have 7' fencing that completely encloses their berry bushes and vines in a bird-proof box. At the southern juncture of these to wall systems is their shed/chicken coop/workshop/greenhouse structure. I hope people can see the detail from this set of photos. It's a brilliant system.
Deer Fencing 1.jpg
[Thumbnail for Deer Fencing 1.jpg]
Deer Fence 2.jpg
[Thumbnail for Deer Fence 2.jpg]
 
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