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)
A great book on this topic is Creating a Deer & Rabbit Proof Garden by Peter Derano.
Features over 160 deer and rabbit plants with over 400 color photo’s.
Great tips for outwitting deer and rabbits, too.
Good tips! I find this article really helpful. Keep sharing the knowledge.
Need help figuring out how to approach enclosing a 20 acre cherry block with heavy deer pressure. I have poplar trees planted around about half of it which my help with not needing as many posts, but not sure the most economical way to approach the fencing part. Help!!
It’s Andrea from Plus Media. Hope you’re doing well. Have a quick question. Can you add deer fence to existing pool fence?
Here is a very low tech, inexpensive, foolproof method to deter deer from plants. Put in small wooden stakes about 1-2 feet from the perimeter of your beds (on the edge will work if you have the room. Make sure they are firmly planted with at least 6-8″ above ground. Tie clear fishing line (small, 10 lb) from stake to stake. The deer cannot see the line and when they touch it, it scares them. Has never failed for any of our plants, including figs, blueberries, and annual and perennial flowers. We have many deer.
What if you make a 6 foot high fence and then used the fence to put a roof(top) to your fenced in area? Example: 20′ x 20′ garden with 6′ high fence and with a fence roof. Will the deer be smart enough not to jump on it?
I wonder if a shorter fence ( say 5′) would work if we used various height narrow raised beds and narrow paths inside the garden…. would a deer be too intimidated to jump in if there’s not enough flat area to land safely.. or would it jump anyway and we’d end up with a bigger problem of a trapped or injured deer?..thanks
In the last two years of summer drought in San Antonio the deer have come in & totally destroyed our front & side yards. They have eaten all english ivy down to the dirt and 75% of larger plants.
We are willing to try the monofilament fishing line 10 inches above the ground down both sides of the yard. And then have to come up with a gate for the front entry sidewalk.
Option two is the EIGHT FOOT MESH FENCE ty rapped two metal poles.
We Have no idea what black mesh fencing would be strong & thick (mills) enough to hold back a deer?
Last option is EIGHT FOOT PERMANENT ALUMINUM FENCING if the neighborhood HOA & SA CITY CODE COMPLIANCE will allow an EIGHT FOOT FENCE in our front yard. Will ck on variances to the limit on fence heights above the code SIX FOOT.
We will meet with our neighborhood HOA this week for aporovals hopfully for a EIGHT FT FENCE. Thank you for your guidance & expertise.
Brent & Ana Holland
San Antonio TX