Deer fencing protecting newly planted grapes.
Deer can be a real problem in a yard or garden. If deer are still eating your plants despite using deer repellents and switching to deer-resistant plants, you may want to consider installing a deer-proof fence to keep them out.
Deer fencing isn’t suitable for every yard, and be sure to check local building codes and neighborhood covenants before installing any fence. Fencing for deer doesn’t have to be extremely expensive or unsightly, however, and there are a number of types of fencing and methods of installation that can work.
Here are the basics on how to add a deer fence in your yard.
A privacy fence is the most effective type of deer fence.
How to Build a Deer Fence
The most common effective designs for a deer fence are:
- Tall Fence: An 8’ high fence is considered pretty much deer-proof and is tall enough to prevent even a frightened deer from jumping it. The fence is even more effective if deer can’t see through it.
- Slanted Fence: A 6’ high fence can be effective if it’s slanted outward (toward the deer) at about a 45° angle. Deer will hesitate to jump over it due to both the height and distance.
- Double Fence: Two fences spaced a few feet apart, regardless of height, can also work. The deer won’t like being caught between the fences, so they will avoid attempting the jump. You can also do this with two rows of electric fencing set about 3’ apart.
- Electric Fence: If you’re able to maintain it, an electric fence can be a great deer barrier. Even a strand or two of electrified wire can keep deer away, as long as it’s always turned on. Start with one strand of electrified wire about 30” off the ground. If deer are still getting in, add strands about a foot above and below the first one. Monitor the garden, and continue adding strands about a foot apart until the fence is effective against the deer. Electric fencing is less visible and easy to move when working in the garden. Keep in mind, though, that it’s customary to bait the deer to lick the wire in order to teach them to stay away, which may be seen as cruel.
- Modified Fence: If your garden already has a shorter fence that isn’t working, try modifying it by adding an extension to every second or third pole with mesh or strands of wire stretched between them. This will add height without changing the look of your original fence. Another option is to add a second fence near your existing fence.
Deer Fence Materials
Mesh fencing for deer.
- Privacy fencing: If appropriate and affordable, an 8’ tall privacy fence is probably the most effective choice. Deer won’t jump it since they can’t see what’s on the other side.
- Mesh fencing: For larger areas, use 8’ mesh stretched between tall metal fence posts. To keep the mesh from sagging, run a taut wire at the top of the posts, and attach it to the mesh to support it. Mesh can also be attached to trees at the edge of the woods for a less noticeable appearance. Mesh fencing comes in a variety of materials, including metal wire (most durable and most expensive), polyethylene-coated metal (expensive, but more attractive), and polypropylene (least expensive, less durable, but less visible).
Deer Fence Tips
Mesh fencing is almost invisible.
- Complete Enclosure: A fence only works if it completely encloses your garden! Blocking only the deer paths will just prompt them to learn new ways in. Make sure gates are secure and as tall as the fence.
- Landing Zone: For added deterrents, add obstacles just inside the fence to make the deer reluctant to land there.
- Effective Deer Fences (University of Vermont Extension)
- Deer Control in Home Gardens (West Virginia University)
- How to Prevent Deer from Damaging Plants in Your Yard (video)
- How to Use Deer Repellents to Prevent Damage to Your Yard (article)
- How to Landscape Your Yard with Deer-Resistant Plants (article)