Building a Deer Fence Phase IV: If You Build It, They Won’t Come

P1040371 (375x333)A history of the Spy Garden deer offensive (why we built the deer fence):

We have tried many anti-deer methods including:

Store-bought anti-deer sprays: In a large garden, you’d probably end up spending as much money as a fence costs if you used these on a regular basis as they need to be re-applied after rain and/or at least once a week. They smell horrific.

Homemade sprays: Mixtures of garlic, cayenne, raw egg: A lot of effort to make and must be continually re-applied, but they don’t smell as bad at the store-bought. These do have the added bonus of repelling other pests (i.e. insects) though.

Human Hair: I saved my hair clippings after haircuts and put them in the garden (if your hairdresser is a gardener she will not look at you like you are crazy). The idea is the deer will smell “humans” and avoid the garden. Doesn’t really work. And if you only get a haircut once or twice in a garden season, not really practical!

Bones from pork steaks and other animal bones tied up in the trees with garden twine around the garden: Mostly served to torture the dog. Exhibit A:

Mmm I smell pork steak!

Mmm I smell pork steak!

I do think the animal bones thing does sort of work as I did notice less deer traffic when “freshly applied”. However, they must be continually replaced so if you used this method your yard may end up looking like The Blair Witch Project. The idea is that the animal bones attract deer predators. Which could be a problem if you have predators you don’t want to attract to your yard where your young children play (i.e. bears, panthers, wolverines, etc.) We mostly only have coyotes, but still I’m not too keen on attracting a rare Missourian mountain lion to our yard!

Planting tall stuff/plants you don’t care that much about on the outside of the garden hoping they will eat a little of that and then move on: Doesn’t really work. And planting is hard work (a lot of effort for essentially growing deer food).

Planting things deer don’t eat: One year I planted eggplant and the deer completely avoided them, then the next year they ate the eggplants to a nub. Ground cherries are supposed to be deer-proof but they ate those to a nub as well. In my experience (the only things) deer will not eat are: herbs, garlic, marigolds and nasturtiums. They will eat other plants even if planted directly adjacent to/among the “deer-proof” plants.

Fishing line around the perimeter of your garden (strung about waist-high): I tried this and actually had the fishing line hooked up to a wind chime. I actually do think this method worked as I could see they were avoiding the area I had “booby-trapped” with the fishing line/wind chime apparatus.  I had to take it down because it just was not practical (getting tangled in the mower, in the way, etc.) Our garden is too large and irregularly shaped for this solution. But it might be worth trying in a smaller more square/rectangle garden plot.

When employing any or all of these methods every morning walk to the garden bears less than confident hopes: Cringing in anticipation of what has been trampled, chewed or entirely eaten is no way to start the day! A fence truly is the only deer-proof solution if deer are a major problem in your garden.

More on the Spy Garden deer fence: Phase I, Phase II, Phase III

And a bit more about the temporary deer fence gate:

Temporary Gate

Temporary Gate

A tomato stake is woven through the deer fencing material and tied at the top with garden twine. To close the gate we just stick the stake into the ground and then hook a tail of the zip tie (from the fence post) through the fencing material:

"Locking" the gate!

“Locking” the gate!

7 thoughts on “Building a Deer Fence Phase IV: If You Build It, They Won’t Come

  1. puppiesinparadise

    I loved your sense of humor in this post. I can only imagine how bones hangin from tree would drive your dog to distraction. I am glad you were able to put up the fence. I am sure you will enjoy your garden even more this coming growing season.

    1. Spy Garden Post author

      Thanks! What a difference having a fence makes. It went up last season and we’ve just expanded it to include more of the yard. I’d like to fence the whole yard one day (then we could grow edibles–like fruit trees–where ever we pleased!)

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  5. tamsyng

    How annoying for you. Reading all the animals you could attract to your garden to scare off the deers makes our english slugs look a bit tame ;) Of course we do have deer to, but they don’t eat that much. Fingers crossed you manage to grow some veg.


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