When you think of deer, you may picture Disney’s adorable cartoon, Bambi. If you have two months’ worth of gardening eaten overnight, Bambi starts looking less cute. Installing a deer-proof garden fence is an effective way to keep deer away from your landscaping. Here are a few of the pros and cons of the most common types of deer fencing, from poly mesh garden fence kits to wooden structures.
1. Metal Mesh Fencing
Deer fencing made from this metal grid material is one of the most popular types. Because deer can see through it, it must be higher than a deer can jump. It is advisable to sink the posts by 18 to 24 inches higher than the fence height to ensure strong anchor points and anchoring along the bottom of the fence.
Pros of Metal Mesh Deer Fencing
The metal is durable, especially if it is coated with polyethylene.
Views are unobstructed: You can see through it.
Deer fences are usually sold as kits and can be quickly and easily installed by a savvy homeowner with the right tools.
Cons of Metal Mesh Deer Fencing
Costly: Metal mesh, especially invisible mesh, can be expensive. Less expensive mesh can obstruct the view of a garden.
2. Poly Deer Fencing
A popular option for home garden fencing and deer fencing due to its affordability and ease of installation, polypropylene mesh is attached to wooden or metal posts.
Pros of Polypropylene Deer Fencing
Compared to metal, it’s less expensive.
Easy to DIY: It’s often sold as a kit that includes posts.
It is convenient to set up and take down after the growing season is over.
It looks good: You have unobstructed views of the garden
Cons of Polypropylene Deer Fencing
Unless you invest in a polypropylene mesh with a big breaking load (800 pounds or more), the deer can bash right through it.
Choose the Right Size
The meshing should not have openings larger than two inches, or the deer may become trapped or injured.
3. Wood Fencing
A wood fence can be effective to keep deer from jumping into an area that they cannot see. However, you’ll want this type of fence to have as few gaps as possible.
Pros of a Wooden Fence
For deer to see through wood fencing, it only needs to be about 5 feet high.
Also, it’s a beautiful classic fence style that complements any outdoor area. You can customize it to fit your style.
In addition to adding privacy to your yard, it can also provide a sense of seclusion.
Cons of a Wooden Fence
If you need to fence off a large area, it can be expensive.
It can obscure your view.
It requires some handyperson skills to install (so it’s not an easy DIY project).
4. Vinyl Fencing
Pros of Vinyl Fencing
Customizable: Can be customized to fit your style.
For deer to be deterred, the fence needs to be at least 5 feet high.
Privacy is provided by seclusion.
Fencing that is more cost-effective than wood is generally more affordable.
Compared to wood, upkeep and maintenance are minimal.
Cons of Vinyl Fencing
Like most fences, it can block your view.
It may require a professional to build, as it can be more involved than an easy weekend DIY.
Also, you can slant a solid fence at a 45-degree angle, making the fence wider than deer like to jump. Or, install two shorter fences three to five feet apart, making it difficult for deer to leap the span between them.
5. Electric Deer Fencing
An electric deer fence consists of low wires that emit a mild electrical shock, similar to an electric dog fence.
Electric deer fencing is more of a deterrent than a better solution than building a high fence around your property.
The best way to interrupt the deer’s jumping pattern is to install a series of wires (2 to 3 feet high) about 3 feet apart. Instead of trying to keep deer out of an entire yard, electric deer fencing can be placed around plants you wish to keep deer away from or near common deer paths.
Pros of Electric Deer Fencing
It is relatively unobtrusive and can be almost invisible in the landscaping.
Most deer may be deterred by this product.
Compared to building a large fence around your property, it’s inexpensive.
Cons of Electric Deer Fencing
As it depends on deer responding to the shock, it isn’t foolproof. Some deer will ignore pain or adapt to it, making it ineffective.
Power: This option requires a power source, which can be challenging.
6. Chain Link Fencing
When considering a way to keep deer away, chain link fencing might not be first on your mind, but if it is tall enough, it can work. Keep in mind that there are many styles available now, including non-metal options with an upgraded look, before you cringe at the thought of your home looking like a prison yard.
Pros of Chain Link Fencing
Chain link fencing is generally affordable.
View: Most of the views are unobstructed.
Flexible: It can be used to separate areas of your yard, such as a vegetable garden.
Cons of Chain Link Fencing
Chain link has an unattractive appearance for some homeowners.
It must be 8 feet high to be effective.
Posts are typically large metal posts, which can make DIY installation more difficult, so you’ll probably want to hire a local fencing contractor.
Using a top rail can visually trick deer into thinking the fence is higher than it is.
7. Liquid Fencing
Liquid deer repellent can be applied to garden borders just as soap can repel bugs and critters. It contains substances that taste or smell unappealing to deer.
Pros of Liquid “Fencing”
The application process is very simple.
Availability of the solution is convenient.
When used as directed by the manufacturer, it is harmless to plants, pets, and animals.
Cons of Liquid “Fencing”
It is not a long-term solution to keep deer out of gardens. Reapplication is required after heavy rains.
If a deer is hungry enough, it will ignore it and go for the food.
Creative DIY Deer Fences
There are plenty of garden fencing options, such as iron rail or aluminum fencing, which are not commonly used as deer fencing—but certainly can be. You can get creative with materials, combining mesh with wood posts and burying wood or galvanized steel at the bottom of the fencing to keep deer out, too. Remember, the rule of thumb is the more see-through the fencing, the higher it should be. Also, keep in mind that hex fencing, also known as chicken wire, is not strong enough to keep deer out. They can knock it down or even chew through the vinyl variety.
Green hedges at least six feet tall, properly maintained, without holes, can help ward off deer, primarily because they interrupt the deer’s sight line. You may need to supplement with wire fencing until your hedge is thick enough.
The truth is, there is no such thing as deer-proof plants. However, there are many beautiful deer-resistant plants they don’t like, like thistles, wisteria vines, sword ferns, and beautyberries.
If you don’t want to fence in your entire property, consider creating a raised-bed veggie garden with mesh fencing around it to deter deer.
A fence installation expert can walk you through the different types of fencing available and help you set a budget.
A Note About Fence Height
A hungry deer can jump up to eight feet, and a mule deer can jump up to 15 feet with a running start, surprising even the most tenacious gardener. You should build a fence that is at least eight feet high to prevent deer from getting over it.
To prevent deer from wriggling under your fence, anchor it at a distance of 1 to 2 feet from the bottom. Alternatively, you can bury the fence along the main fence line by digging a trench between the posts and covering it with dirt. You can then add gravel to ensure that everything stays in place.
Alternative Deer Deterrents
Some homeowners cannot or will not build a deer-proof fence for their garden. However, there are other ways to protect your plants, such as using deterrent methods. Deer tend to be scared off by loud noises and sudden movements.
When deer are around, dogs bark (a lot)
Sprinklers equipped with motion sensors
Chimes for the wind