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Syracuse, New York
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"Garden Journeys" Video Features

Deer Fence Options

Special Topics

Deer in Landscapes and Gardens


This wood frame garden enclosure is about fifteen feet wide, thirty feet long and eight feet high.Because they’re incredible jumpers, fences intended to exclude deer must be at least eight feet tall. They also need to completely enclose the space to be protected, otherwise deer will eventually find an opening! For these reasons, fences are generally not practical for entire residential properties - though in neighborhoods with extremely high deer populations, they're becoming more common.

For very valuable plants, people will often go to great lengths to protect them from deer browse!More often, property owners will enclose specific spaces - such as a vegetable garden, above right, or a backyard. Sometimes, for very expensive or sentimental plants, people will go to great lengths to protect individual or groups of plants, at left and below, at right.

The fencing most often used for the various enclosures described above is made from polypropylene of various mesh sizes. Treated to resist degradation by UV light, this fencing material is claimed to maintain its strength for ten to fifteen years.

Meanwhile, some people claim to have great success at preventing deer damage with various electrified fencing options. However, I can say with some experience that they can be pretty high maintenance. Years ago, my grandfather would enclose a fairly large corner of one of his fields with electric fencing to keep raccoons from getting to his sweetcorn. In exchange for an pretty much unlimited supply of fresh corn, his grandchildren were responsible for keeping the installation functioning - which tended to be much easier said than done!

An alternative to these highly visible enclosures, “invisible” fencing that restrains dogs of the right temperament can significantly reduce the amount of deer damage a property may experience. In fact, a number of commercial apple orchards are now using this technique quite successfully to reduce by thousands of dollars per acre the amount of damage deer herds can inflict over the course of a single growing season!

In addition to the expense of installing the fencing and caring for a pet, the effectiveness of this option relies upon the dog(s) being outside when the deer are most likely to be feeding, which is usually between dusk and dawn. Therefore, this option may not be very useful if you have neighbors that don’t like waking up to the sound of barking dogs in the middle of the night!