Deer fencing can be a necessary component to protect your garden, keep ticks at bay, and prevent deer from entering your yard. While it's possible to plant deer-resistant shrubs and perennials that don't attract deer, it's not always a guarantee that deer won't visit your outdoor space—and along with stepping on your plants, they can even bring disease-carrying ticks with them.
Thankfully, there are a variety of choices for deer fencing that can be utilized without the need for planting deer-resistant species or spraying harsh chemicals to remove ticks. By fencing deer out, you can keep your plants safe, avoid chemicals, and even keep pets in your yard with the right options.
Below, learn all about different types of common deer fencing and repellants to keep these pests away from your outdoor space.
Considerations for Deer Fencing
Before choosing a deer fence, consider the following features:
- Fence Height: Deer are great jumpers, capable of leaping 8 feet into the air. While some shorter fences can be effective, if deer are especially interested in your yard, a barrier-style deer fence at least this tall may be best. Many other kinds of fencing cannot reliably keep deer from crossing your property borders.
- Slack: Even as large animals, deer can try to push under fencing. Ensure there is no gap between your fencing and the ground. When using any type of loose fencing (for example, metal wire or polypropylene mesh), leave some slack. Let the extra fencing spill over the ground and pin it down with stakes.
- Repairs: Any damage incurred by barrier-style fencing will have to be repaired promptly: A compromised barrier is not effective. Deer are smart enough to find a breach in the fence and enter through it quickly.
- Pest Prevention: Depending on the type of fence you build, you can prevent other pests like rodents and small mammals. However, you must select barrier-style fencing that only has small openings. This can cost more, so decide whether the benefit is worth the extra cost.
- Durability: To increase durability, any metal deer fence you use should be galvanized, and any polypropylene fence should be UV-protected.
- Gates: Remember to include a gate or other means of accessing the area being fenced (and deer-proof the gate with proper latches).
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Metal Wire Fencing
- Best for: Easy installation
Metal wire fencing consists of heavy-gauge metal wires running horizontally and vertically that form rectangles, which are attached together at each intersection. This is one of the best options for the greatest number of gardeners, as it's typically affordable compared to standard yard fencing. It's also easy to install: Simply hammer metal posts (or install stronger wood posts) in the ground, then attach the wire to each post.
This type of deer fencing for years has been a go-to for gardeners and farmers for years. It still has its champions, and it's quite durable when the posts are properly sunken into the ground. If you're willing to pay for a high-end product, metal wire deer fences that have been coated in black polyethylene are the best of the bunch, as they're more weather-resistant and less visible than standard silver wire options.Pros
Polyethylene-coated options blend into landscape
Needs to be staked into the ground
More expensive than polypropylene mesh
Silver metal wire options can stand out
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Polypropylene Mesh Fencing
- Best for: Affordability
Polypropylene mesh is a type of plastic fencing that's attached to vertical posts to form a barrier, similar to metal wire. This option is the most affordable, but it may look less attractive than some other options. Installing polypropylene mesh tightly—rather than letting it become loose—can help it look more like standard fencing.
Keep in mind that deer are powerful animals that can rupture plastic fencing that isn't strong enough. If you do choose polypropylene mesh, select a grade that has a breaking load of at least 800 pounds. The breaking load figure signifies how strong the product is.Pros
Best affordable option
Types with higher breaking loads are durable enough to prevent deer
Mesh is nearly invisible
Needs to be staked into the ground
Can be unattractive without tight installation
Not as durable as metal wire
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- Best for: Less visual obstruction
Electric deer fencing consists of a wire (or wires) strung low along a border that carries a mild shock. This type of deer fencing isn't a constant barrier: Instead, it's helpful to influence deer behavior, similar to an electric dog fence influencing your pet's behavior. Some options are affordable, while others can become expensive depending on the brand.
Electric fencing is cheap and much less visually obtrusive than mesh or permanent fences, but it's not as effective. It's sometimes baited with food to expose the animal to the shock, which discourages it from approaching the area in the future. A variation is a product known as "The Wireless Deer Fence." In this case, baited posts (with no actual fence) are placed on deer paths leading into your property or around plants prone to be eaten by deer.
Not visually obstructive
Easy to install
Can be effective once deer learn to stay away
Not a physical fence; only influences behavior
Not safe for children and pets
Can be expensive
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- Best for: Sturdy fencing on a budget
Chain-link fences consist of sturdy metal wires that interlink in a zig-zag pattern, which are attached to metal posts that must be set in concrete underground. Like other conventional fences, chain-link fencing can also serve as a barrier to deer.
Chain-link fencing is very durable, and while it's more expensive than wire or polypropylene mesh options, it's still more affordable than wood privacy fences. However, deer can still see through it, so they may be tempted to jump the fence to reach your garden if they notice appetizing plants.Pros
Effectively prevents deer with proper height
Continue to 5 of 5 below.
Can be considered unsightly
More expensive than other popular options
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- Best for: Sturdy fencing with an attractive look
Solid wood privacy fences are typically at least 6 feet tall and composed of solid wood boards attached tightly together. This option can be the most effective at preventing deer, as its durability and view-blocking features make it difficult for deer to see plants and breach the fence.
By choosing a wood privacy fence, it's easy to get by without the full 8-foot fencing height. The reason is that deer can't see if a potential predator is on the other side, so they err on the side of caution and move on (instead of jumping your fence). However, wood privacy fences are often expensive.Pros
Very effective at preventing deer
Expensive to build
Needs to be maintained each season to withstand weather
Choosing a Deer Fence
Deer fencing varies in cost, visibility, effectiveness, and durability. First, assess your landscaping budget: If budget constraints are too burdensome, consider installing an affordable deer fence like metal wire, polypropylene mesh, or even an electric fence. On the other hand, if you're looking for a long-lasting and attractive fence, other standard options like wood privacy fences can be very effective. Hiring a local fence company is a great way to ensure your fence is installed properly and built to code.
Rather than fences, some homeowners also prefer to use deer repellents. These range from DIY options (like spraying plants with crushed hot peppers or unpleasant smells) to commercial repellents. Depending on the product, deer are driven away because they dislike the smell or taste of the substance. However, whereas fencing represents a long-term solution to the problem, repellents offer only a temporary solution, as they must be reapplied after rain and plant waterings.