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.
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.