One of the biggest nuisances for many gardeners is deer. In fact, estimates have placed damages caused by deer in the United States in the hundreds of millions of dollars, every year. Deer have few natural predators and seem to prefer well-fertilized and cared for landscaped plants – more so than their natural vegetation. Consequently, a deer fence may be one of the options to protect landscaping.
Some studies have estimated that the deer population in America alone has jumped from 500,000 in the 1940s to over 27 million. As a result, any plant that remains green and is edible through the winter becomes a special treat to these cute mammals. Because of the high deer population, the deer have become accustomed to such delicacies – and are usually not spooked by humans.
The purpose of a deer fence is to keep deer away from landscaped plants. Most deer cannot jump over a deer fence that is nine to ten feet (2.7 – 3.0 m) tall. However, many gardeners who want to build such a tall deer fence are restricted by covenants in their neighborhoods. For those individuals, a six foot (1.8 m) fence may be the maximum allowed according to the code – a mere hop for a deer. Consequently, those gardeners must also increase the distance that the deer must jump horizontally, plus build a deer fence that reaches the code’s maximum.
The best way to build an efficient deer fence and follow code is to plant shrubs that will grow horizontally and vertically on each side of the fence wall. It is important to plant only shrubs that are resistant to deer – or such measures will be futile. Examples of deer resistant shrubs include the Butterfly Bush, Buttonbush, Dogwood, Elderberry, Forsythia, and Coralberry. Generally, deer do not like to consume plants that are prickly, have thick leaves, have a medicinal use, or have a mint or lemon scent. Contact a local nursery to see which shrubs will grow well in a given area.
One of the newest forms of a deer fence is made from plastic mesh that is about 8 feet (2.4 m) tall. It is designed to protect woodland areas of a gardener’s landscaping from hungry deer and comes in rolls. Since it is black in color and it is wrapped around the trees, it easily blends into the landscaping and will not become an eye-sore.
Another form of a mesh deer fence is mesh netting. It is used to create a barrier to keep deer out. The barrier is usually clear -– again, to keep the landscaping aesthetically pleasing. Check the codes and rules in each neighborhood to see if either the plastic mesh or see-through netting is allowed.
In rare cases, a deer fence may actually be created that has an electrical current running through it. In general, the deer will only receive a light jolt of electricity – from a battery pack or solar powered cell. Although it may not be as visible as some of the other options, it may physically disturb the deer. There are countless options for installing a quality deer fence, and a gardener must simply decide what works best for his needs.