Very simply, a deer fence is a fence specially designed to keep deer out of an enclosed area, often referred to as a deer exclosure. Deer fencing can be as small as the back yard tomato garden or as large as the entire farm or estate. A deer fence can be made of wood, metal or plastic or a combination there of. Each type of deer fence has its own set of advantages and weaknesses. When planning a deer fence for your property, knowledge is power. We will take a look at several deer fences as well as some deer prevention strategies and explore both strengths and weaknesses for each. This will enable you, the consumer, to choose what is best for your application.
One last point, at the risk of being obvious, deer fencing, no matter what kind, only works if it is a complete deer exclosure. Yes, that does mean all the way around. It doesn't matter that before you put up the deer fence they only entered the yard from the west side or from behind the shed. Once the deer fencing goes up and the regular point of entry is blocked, you have forced the deer into a new behavior. The deer will follow the deer fence line. If it is not a complete deer exclosure, sooner or later they will figure out that they can go around the deer fence. Similarly, if you leave the gates open, sooner or later they will find the open gate. To make matters worse, once inside if they get spooked you are now dealing with a panicked animal. Let the pinball game begin. Just imagine what kind of deer damage can happen now. Bottom line, all the way around and keep the gates close. Yes, driveways do present an extra challenge and will need to be either gated or grated. See our section on access gates and driveway gates or call us about a driveway grate.
To be an effective deer fence the polypropylene must be at least 80 grams per square meter and large properties and high pressure areas will require at 110 grams per square meter. Be careful here, there are cheap imitations on the market that are borderline useless. Usually sold by big box retailers or by unscrupulous internet marketers, this cheap stuff is often marketed as deer netting, but buyer beware.
Advantages: Easy to install and just as easy to remove. Poly deer fence can be installed and removed seasonally. This deer fence is light-weight, easy to handle and very difficult to see. It doesn't spoil you view, it bounces back to its original shape after impact, it's highly effective and will not rust. Poly deer fence does not require any special equipment or unique skills to install and it is much easier to install around existing shrubbery and trees than other types of deer fence.
Disadvantages: Chewing critters can chew and damage this deer fence. Vines and other vegetation should not be allowed to grow on the deer fence and must be removed. This deer fence will break down in sunlight over time; useful working life is 10 years or more. Best Applications: This deer fence really shines in areas where the look and the view really matter, such as suburban yards and gardens, public gardens and community gardens. Small farmers and growers especially like this type of deer fencing for situations where they desire the public to see their crops, flowers, trees and vegetables. Also, forest and wetland restoration projects require the young plants and trees to receive protection from hungry deer and geese for a time until they are large enough to survive. The deer and goose fence must then be removed typically, 5 to 7 years later.
A working knowledge of deer behaviors, mingled with some common sense will go a long way when planning a wooden deer fence. We can then manage these behaviors to our best advantage. First off, deer our extremely unlikely to jump over something when they don't know what is on the other side, additionally they are very unlikely to jump if they can't see what is on the other side. On top of that, jumping is a flight behavior and is not a feeding behavior. Translation, deer will crawl under and wiggle through something to go eat, but they're not going to drop in for dinner.
Advantages: Wooden Deer Fence can be a highly effective deer fence and when done well, a wood deer fence is a very attractive. To be an effective deer barrier a wood fence must be a stockade type of fence, in other words solid from top to bottom. Yes, this does mean all the way to the ground or the deer will go under. You would be surprised at just how small a space the little ones can squeeze through. Some types of wood fence require very little maintenance. Wood deer fences are not usually damaged by chewing critters and depending on the type of wood can be very long lasting.
Disadvantage: Depending on deer pressure in the area a stockade deer fence often works at 6 feet but to be highly effective you may need to go to 8 feet high. Some municipalities require special permits for an 8 foot high fence. Keep in mind, it's a lot of work to put up a solid wood deer fence. It's heavy, post holes need to be dug at least 2 feet deep often 3 feet deep. Post need to be below the frost line and should be set in concrete to keep frost heave to a minimum. This type of deer fence tends to be pricey. Best Application: This sort of fence is best where privacy is desired in addition to keeping the deer out such as along a busy road.
There are several sorts of Metal Fences that are effective as Deer Fence
Fixed Knot or High Tension Steel Deer Fence
Advantages: Highly effective when properly installed, requires little or no maintenance. This fence will keep most animals out. It is also used to keep grazing animals in. This fence is chew proof and it will last for years. Very strong stuff.
Disadvantages: Installation is difficult and does require special skills and equipment. Installation is probably best left to the professionals. It needs to be installed at at least 8 feet to be an effective deer fence. Additionally, a wide working area will need to be cleared in order to have enough room to install the fence. Best Applications: Works well for large exclosures and large enclosures, with plenty of available room for pieces of equipment to maneuver. Some farmers have closed off the entire farm using this fence.
Welded Wire Deer Fence
Advantages: Very effective when installed properly. Little, to no maintenance is required, and although it is heavy and hard to handle, it can be installed by the do-it-yourselfer. This is a very strong and durable material and chewing animals cannot damage this deer fence.
Disadvantages: Heavy and hard to handle, tends to cost more than poly deer fence. Much more visible than poly deer fence. Needs to be installed at 8 feet to be an effective deer fence. Best Applications: Very useful in places were the visibility aspect of the fence is not a big concern. Obviously, the strength and ruggedness of steel is a big plus as well. Works well as a stacked deer fence, meaning 2 sections each 4' wide can be stacked to achieve the necessary deer fence height.
Vinyl Coated Hex Wire Deer Fence:
Advantages: Vinyl Coated Hex Wire is effective as a deer fence and rodent fence, lasts for a very long time and requires little maintenance. Installation requires no special tools or skills.
Disadvantages: Tends to be pricey and hard to handle. When this fence gets hit by something, like a deer banging into it, the fence will "dent", meaning it doesn't tend to bounce back into its original shape very well. Try not to bend or handle this fence too often because eventually the vinyl will chip allowing water to penetrate to the steel within shortening the useful working life of this product.
Best Application: This fence tends to work best when married with a poly fence like Deer Fence USA's Ultra Freedom Fence. Attach a 2 foot high or even a 3 foot high hex as a "chew protection barrier" to the bottom of the poly fence. The polypropylene forms the upper portion of the deer fence finishing at 7 feet and the bottom of the fence is skirted with the hex. By using the hex wire at the bottom of the fence you are stopping all chew damage yet with the top portion poly you are still capturing the advantages of the low visibility and superior bounce back. This is very effective at keeping all sorts of critters out of the garden or yard and will not spoil your view. This deer fence will stop rabbits, ground hogs, fox, deer and more.
Chain Link as a Deer Fence
Advantage: Very Strong stuff that will last a very long time. Chewing critters cannot damage this deer fence and for that matter very little else can, this is very durable. Disadvantage: Its chain link, you have to like the look, some folks do, however many people do not. You must go high for chain link to be an effective deer fence. How high is a complete function of the deer pressure. Chain link will start to work at 6 feet if the pressure is relatively light but often you must go at least 8 feet high or more to be effective. Best Application: If you're looking for a deer fence that is very strong and durable, one you can just put up and never have to think about again and the "look" does not matter to you, than this is the deer fence for you.
Deer Fence Variations:
Advantages: A double fence meaning two parallel fences installed 5 feet high and 5 or 6 feet apart, as long as the deer can't crawl through or under, will be an effective deer fence. The reason this works is deer can either jump high or jump far but they don't seemed to be able to do both. Add to this the fact that deer are instinctively unwilling to jump into small places for fear of getting trapped.
Disadvantage: Very expensive, you're installing two fences. Maintenance is extremely difficult; just think about caring for the 5 foot wide strip between the two fences Best Applications: We can't think of any.
These sort of fence can be very effective deer fence as long as you keep the basic deer prevention rules in mind. First, make sure the deer cannot go under or through the fence. After that, the combination of deer pressure in the area and the visibility of the fence you are building will dictate how high the fence needs to go. Deer can jump over 10 feet from a stand still. A wood deer fence is substantial, so deer can see it and therefore judge it to jump it. Deer can also see through it, unless it is a stockade type, so they will know what is on the other side of the fence. Bottom line, doing this sort of fence you will probably need to go at least 8 feet high and in areas with very high deer pressure you likely will have to go even higher.
Bad idea, we don't recommend using electric fence for deer. Some people will tell you that they have had or have heard of someone successfully using electric fence to keep deer out, but for every success we hear of, we learn about many more failures. It has been our experience that deer, when they get hungry enough will ignore the shock for the opportunity to eat.
All other methods of deer deterrent are only temporary fixes with the exception of removal, whether by hunting or trapping. Some of these deterrent methods do work well, but only for a time. Deer Repellents Repellents are applied directly to the vegetation you wish to protect from hungry deer. Deer repellents work by either taste, smell or a combination of both. Many repellents are very effective when applied according to the manufacturer's instructions. In the case of every repellent, it can only work where it is applied. Therefore, new growth, by its very nature of being new, will not have any repellent on it. Similarly, rain will wash away the deer repellent. Any leaves without repellent, the deer will eat. Yes, they are that selective. The bottom line repellent must be reapplied regularly.
Advantages: Inexpensive, easy to apply, usually effective, at least for a time, however brief. Can be applied in hard to fence locations.
Disadvantage: Repellents smell. Some brands smell really awful. Must be reapplied often, usually after every rain and on all new growth. Not a good idea to use this in the vegetable garden. Best Application: A high visibility flower garden that is impractical to fence.
All other methods of deer Deterrent including human hair, bars of soap, shiny bits of metal, noise makers, motion activated sprinklers, electrified peanut butter licks, sonic devices and so on are all a function of deer pressure. They work as long as the deer has other choices for a meal. However, as soon as the deer gets hungry enough, all bets are off. If any of these methods are working for you then great, count your blessings. But as soon as the deer pressure increases for whatever the reason, drought, severe winter or just a steady increase in the herd size over time. There will be a point, where these methods no longer work. Hungry deer need to eat, and will become very bold. At that point it may be a good idea to consider a fence. Remember, suburbia is perfect deer habitat; lots to eat and no predators.
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