With gardening efforts reaching full swing – seeds germinating and transplants reaching for the sky, folks often approach our stand, chit chat about what’s in their gardens, their favorite varieties, then ask a pretty common question….”do you have trouble with deer?”
Being in a rural area, we are fortunate (and challenged) to have abundant wildlife around us. Birds are numbers and of varied species. We’ve enjoyed seeing red fox bound across our neighbor’s pasture. The dogs have disappeared so deeply into groundhog holes that only their wagging nubs were visible. Bunnies abound and nosh readily on patches of clover (and probably my lettuces). Neighbors have seen coyote and black bear in the back pasture. And of course, our number one wildlife species around is whitetail deer.
When establishing the first planting area on our farm, one of our first investments was in fencing. The setup and materials, themselves, are pretty basic…10 ft tall steel t-posts and 8′ tall plastic deer fencing. Cable ties are used to secure the fencing material to the t-posts. With a tall ladder (or standing on a truck side bed), and some upper body strength, in a few hours, deer fencing can be installed. The cost is worth it if one resides in an area highly populated by deer and production losses are a concern.
The plastic fencing material we used is heavy duty with a “tensile strength 750 lb per sq ft breaking load” according to the blurb on Seven Springs Farm (supplier) website. Originally, we purchased our t-posts from Seven Springs, too. Recently, we found the 10′ posts at HomeDepot for a reduced cost.
A few weeks ago, it was all hands on deck for installation of a new section of deer fencing around our the newly planted orchard and lower garden areas (now two new plots).
It was a multi-weekend project with Jordan and Dad putting up all the extra t-posts we had on hand. Then Team Cooper came to town and helped finish the rest.
The plastic deer fencing has worked well for us…for excluding deer. It is made of plastic, after all, and small rodents have been able to chew access holes or go under (despite leaving a bit folded along the ground). It is also impossible to weed whack – you can damage it with mower, too. Crop damage from rabbits has been unnoticeable. Last year, a ground hog got into the main garden and ate all of our bean plants. For that situation, we turned to our neighbor (retired from Sheriff’s department) who had great aim and got rid of the bean-eater for us. There is galvanized metal deer fencing that would solve some of our rodent and aesthetic issues, but that option was out of our budget…perhaps down the road.
So, if you have a deer invading your garden, consider some sort of fencing – plastic with a high tensile strength and breaking load or multi-stranded electric (folks have used electric with success…key is to bait the hot wires so deer touch and learn to avoid). Here are a few final thoughts on wildlife exclusion:
- eventually, adding a woven wire type metal base fence, about a foot high off the ground, might be our easiest option for weed control (the other being installing a weed barrier and mulch directly under the fence) so that we can weed whack the fence line without fear of damaging the plastic fencing
- the lower metal fencing will also help with rodent prevention (which the weed barrier and mulch would NOT help with); others have put a single strand of electric wire at the bottom foot of the deer fencing that extends out at about 45 degrees
- if the 8′ high fencing doesn’t keep deer out (not a problem for us but have heard stories from others), a wire or two can be placed above it on the t-post to extend the fence / barrier height
- we will go through and add brightly colored surveyors tape and old CDs tied to the fencing at random intervals and heights as an added deterrent to deer as well as a warning to birds (movement, sound and reflected light)
- GAP (good agricultural practices) poo-poos the presence of domestic animals (in our case, read this to mean dogs) in the garden, however, we have found that our weekend crew (the beagle-terrier crosses) offers effective rodent and rabbit control (Franklin) as well as identifies holes in the fence (FloJo)
- seriously, having dogs on the premises can help reduce wildlife intrusion onto the property
- we have NOT tried balloons, noise makers (dogs work fine), chemicals or other products like deer-be-gone type of things, so cannot speak as to their effectiveness
Do you have wildlife problems? OR do you have wildlife exclusion solutions? Many folks out there would like to know. Feel free to share ideas, stories, or questions.