Make The Most Effective Fence To Keep Deer Out Of The Garden

The only sure-fire way to keep a deer from eating your garden or trampling it to pieces is to keep it out.  And the only sure-fire way to keep it out, is to build a fence–a really big one.  So which size is best?

The 4 Foot Tall Deer Fence

Deer effortlessly jump over 4 feet fences.  These short fences work best for migratory deer that aren’t starving.  These deer tend to take the path of least resistance.  As long as you haven’t planted something highly tempting where a deer can easily see or smell on the other side of your fence, well-fed migratory deer will tend to go around.

If, on the other hand, you live in the deer’s final destination, a 4 foot tall fence will not keep them out.  When your yard is their home, they will easily welcome themselves over your short fence as often as they want to feast.

The 6 Foot Tall Deer Fence

Because deer can so easily jump over a 4 foot deer fence, many people opt to go with a 6 foot tall fence.  This is much harder for a deer to get over, and offers more protection to your garden.

Most content deer will simply walk around a 6 foot tall fence if they easily can. However, a hungry or scared deer will jump over a 6 foot fence–so it’s not a guarantee.

In fact, more deer injuries happen each year with 6 foot tall fences than any other height for two reasons.  First, because a deer can jump this high, it will try but usually not until it is in a desperate situation–such as hunger or fear. Additionally the hungry deer may not be as strong, and we all know scared deer don’t make good decisions.

It is important to remember that most hurt deer will limp off, and usually die. You may have saved your garden, but you are going to have to ask yourself at what price.

The 8 Foot Tall Deer Fence

Very hungry deer have even been known to jump 8 foot fences.  The reports are few and far between.  Most hungry and scared deer will usually go around.  The 8 foot tall fence has many less reported injuries than the 6 foot tall fence.  This is a much safer height option for both your garden and the deer’s well-being. However, there is still a possibility a deer will make it into your garden.

The 10 Foot Tall Deer Fence

At 10 feet high, I have never heard of a deer jumping over a fence.  I would think this would be the safest bet to keep deer out and uninjured.  It also comes with a hefty price tag.

Does that mean your fence has to be 10 feet tall?  Ideally, yes.  But there are two additional options that are definitely cheaper.

Deer don’t have good depth perception.  This causes them to be intimidated by two types of fences:  the double fence and the 45 degree leaning fence.  If you can’t afford to construct a 10 foot tall fence, one of these may be the best option you have.

The Double Deer Fence

The double fence is exactly what it sounds like: a fence around your garden, and another fence a couple feet out around that one.  It need not be very tall.  A simple four foot fence on the outer perimeter is enough to get a deer’s attention. When they see another fence a couple feet in, they tend to get nervous about making both fences versus landing in between.

Fences that are only a foot away from each other aren’t a good option.  When constructing a double fence, ask yourself, at what width would I be worried about landing between if I was a deer?  When we put up double fences, we aim for 3-4 feet in-between.  You may have to move your perimeter a couple of times to see what works best with the deer in your area.

The Angled Deer Fence

When talking to the locals in my homesteaded community, this is the fence that is most highly favored when a 10 foot tall fence is not an option.

A four foot width of fence at 45 degrees is the most intimidating fence a deer can come across.  According to my Forest Ranger neighbor, when a fence is at 45 degrees (not more, not less), a deer cannot gauge the depth.

While some might be tempted to angle it at a wider angle in lieu of getting a taller fence, a deer will be better able to judge distance as the height is brought up to it’s eye level and the angle becomes shallower.  A lower angle also makes it easier for a deer to gauge distance.

In our area specifically, the angled fence is also highly effective in keeping out moose, raccoon, and bears.

It seems not to matter if the fence is angled in or out.  What really matters is that it is at 45 degrees.

The Already Existing Deer Fence

Already have a fence and don’t want to tear it down and start over?  You still have some options.

For shorter fences, try to run baling twine (or other such brightly colored twine) along the tops of posts giving the appearance of taller fences.  You can see where we did this to some 4 foot fences last year here.

Do not add twine at the 6 foot level as this will likely increase the chance of deer injury.

Is your fence already at 6 feet tall?  Consider weaving branches in or out at the top to give it the appearance of being taller (or being a tree or bush).  This will encourage the deer to go around.

Build your second fence out of what you have.  Pallets, scrap wood, rope on a pole.  Remember that this second fence is not needed to keep the deer out, it is needed to create depth.

The ideal height of a deer fence, and how a short deer fence can be highly effective.

Whether your deer fence is non-existent or already a structure, there are ways to further deter deer from coming in and out of your garden.  Have you found one of these to be very effective, or not at all?  Tell me in the comments along with which type of deer you have in your area.

 

25 Comments

  1. Thanks for the deer proofing ideas. Deer already come to my yard for the crab apples. None of my neighbors appear to have a garden; so once I add mine it’ll look like a buffet salad bar for them.

    • I hope you found the right fence to meet your needs–sounds like you will soon be the new-salad-on-the-block.

      • Ok. What I am getting is don’t put invisible fishing line above 4′. Not needed, as deer think once they touch the lower line, they will assume it could be taller and will perceive danger. I am putting in a white, slatted picket 4′ tall fence, leaving the 4 by 4 posts 3′ above that (city limit w/o a permit). With this kind of fence I will want to put a colored line or wire above the 4′ picket so deer can see it. If I use invisible they will just see the picket and think they can jump right over. So I want them to see it, to avoid injury on trying to jump it. Which they might do if they think its only a 4′ fence. Can’t tell you how many hours I have been researching this over weeks. Any advice?

        • Suzanne, I would avoid fishing line for that reason–they probably wouldn’t see it, and could get hurt. You could alternately try the angled or double fence. I don’t know if you clicked my link and saw one of my old fences, but it was 4 feet high, and had bright orange baling twine above that in much the same manner as you have described. We have a huge deer population here, and for the most part, they would avoid it. If they got spooked however, they would jump right over it and often catch the baling twine. I don’t think any got hurt, but it did eventually pull the fences down in places.
          Let me know what you decide!

  2. Help!!! We have 7′ deer fence and they are jumping over it! So we are considering 6’solid wood. If they can’t see what’s on the other side they won’t jump. What’s your thoughts??

  3. I would really LOVE to see your photos of deer fences, but can’t seem to find the link.

    Does the angled fence have to be four feet from the ground? We are thinking about the possibility of adding to an existing fence to create an angle.

    Thanks. This is a great article! 🙂

    • Hello Muriel, so glad you came by to visit 🙂 .
      The angled fence needs to be 4 foot of fence, not 4 feet tall once it’s up.
      Here is a picture of where I ran baling twine over an existing fence (it’s the picture with the pallets).
      Here is a picture of my current fence around my vegetable garden.
      Hope those help!

      • Thanks! Yes, it helps to see your pictures of your fences. We tried the concept of a second fence made of ropes that went higher than the outside fence. The deer jumped it. So, now we are adding the angle fence and hoping it will keep them out. Yesterday one of the pesky critters got in and ate half our potatoes, most of the yams, a bunch of squash leaves (and several small squash), along with wiping out most of two pots of petunias! >:( And, this is her second time to do it. So, we are tightening our perimeter lines. 😉 Thanks for the help!

  4. Hello,

    I am so confused!! I need help!
    I am a single lady and have a 3 ft black iron fence that the deer is jumping right over!
    I have a small 8 lb dog and am afraid she is going to get hurt by the deer.
    What is the easiest and cheapest way to keep the Deer out of my yard? A double fence?? string a couple strands of wire around the top? what??
    I need help fast. LOL

    • Either of those would work if done correctly. Price is going to depend on what you choose for materials. Just remember if you are putting wire above your fence, it’s going to need to be much taller. Good luck Beverly.

      • Well, still have one Doe who is insisting to get into my yard!
        I strung 7 strands of rope around my yard and they are still getting in!! the rope is about 9″ apart–some 6″. they don’t jump over–then jump between the strands of rope!! My new rope is black with red and yellow tiny strands.
        When I had haphazardly strung yellow rope for 9 months–they never came in–but now with the black rope they do–but the yellow rope ran across my yard some too.
        I live in town–so I hate to have 2 double fences 4 Ft apart–takes up so much room.
        I am thinking of putting yellow rope back up and maybe some Deer Plastic fencing over that???
        But I hate to keep spending money—so what are your suggestions??

        thanks

        • Those darn deer. If the yellow rope was working, I’d go back to that I think. I’m not familiar with Deer Plastic, so I have no advice for you there. Have you tried tying little flags (ours are bright orange) to the ropes so they can see them better?

          • I have strung little wind chimes up, reflectors, CD’s–because they are shiny, twirling long wind things, LOL. Theu just ignore them.
            Today I went and bought 4 ft Chicken wire to hang above my 3 ft fence—that will bring it over 7 ft–leaving a small gap between top of fence and wire—2-3″.
            I hope this works!! If not—then what do I try???
            LOL

          • This is the technique that I would think works best. I hate chicken wire because it’s so flimsy and breaks down, but we have a layer of welded wire on the bottom, and cattle panels above that making ours about 8 feet in most places. It does well. As long as you don’t have chickens that will maneuver their way in your gap, I think you should have a winning combination here.

    • hi there,
      Deer Problems ..your not alone by any means…
      try building your fence higher….like 8 feet high or maybe 10 ft…
      use black plastic fence netting…..
      I hope this works for you…

  5. Hello miss,

    I am exploring options to deere proof my future garden and orchard
    (I am starting the homesteading process)
    I want your thoughts on this:

    I want to use 8’ 6” fence posts, spaced 12’ apart, sink them to the 6’ mark.
    Use 6’ steel mesh fencing on the bottom, standard farmer style.
    Screw 10’ 2×4’s to the sides of the posts, leaving 4’ of exposed 2×4’ jutting above the posts.
    Affix horizontal 2×4 boards along the top which will now be approx 10’ in the air.
    Hang 5’ poly mesh off the top of the 2×4’s, and using small zip ties to secure to the mesh to the top of the steel fencing.

    Thoughts?
    Thanks!

    • It sounds as if your finished fence would be 10 feet tall, and that would be tall enough. However, it sure sounds like a lot of materials. Have you considered the costs and effort of your current design vs. purchasing 12′ vertical poles? We saved money buy purchasing 20′ poles and cutting them in half for our deer fence.
      With your current design, I would worry about the 2×4’s eventually detaching from the posts due to additional weight, wind, weathering, etc. Also, most plastic zip-ties become brittle when exposed to the sun for long periods. I like your poly mesh idea though.
      Please let me know how your fence goes. I’d love to see a picture when you’re done.

  6. All of that can be expensive. The most cost-effective and simple way is to disrupt their footing. For me, I used two rows of wooden pallets (free on Craigslist) . I watched them walk to the edge and “test it” but none of them stepped on it. You can use rocks, wire meshing, garden decorations or logs – whatever throws them off balance.

  7. What in the world is a 45 degree fence?! Could you post a picture of it. I can’t find one. Don’t know anyone who knows how to install one 🙁

    • A normal fence runs straight up and down, and that’s 90 degrees to the ground. A 45 degree fence is slanted half way between straight up and flat on the ground. It looks like a fence that’s falling over, but it’s been put that way on purpose. I’m sorry I don’t have any pictures to share 🙁 .

  8. I’m more interested in privacy from the neighbors yard. If I put in a 6’ wood fence just on one side which is 200’ (the other side and back are private and have a standard chain link fence) do I need to be concerned the deer will get hurt? That’s the last thing I want to happen.

    • Hello Tracey, more deer injuries happen each year with 6 foot tall fences than any other height. Depending on the height of your chain link fence, you may have cause for concern.

  9. It got me when you said that there is a fence that will have another fence around it. I think that is a really great way to prevent them from entering and damaging our garden, so I will choose this. We just started having them around since last weekend, and the roses in my garden have been trampled on already. This is why we need one to be installed.

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