Deer are beautiful and majestic animals. In the days before our wedding, when we were thinking of buying this house, Hubby and I came out to see the place at dusk. As we drove by we saw a deer under the trees. We were mesmerized and took it as a sign that this would be a beautiful place to start our life together.
It has been a beautiful place to begin our life together. That first year we saw many deer, grazing in the tall “field” we had in our back yard in the mornings or resting behind the tall grasses in the evenings. It was truly magical.
And then we planted gardens.
The deer aren’t so beautiful when they eat an entire bed of plants, that you slaved over for hours, in one evening.
And it is no magic that eats all of your tomato plants down to nothing by morning.
The beautiful beasts aren’t tricked by plants and bushes that are reportedly “deer-proof” either, my elderberry bush didn’t last a month before it was munched completely to the ground.
Hubby declared war and kept a slingshot handy – which scared them away for a minute and then they would return to munch on the bushes when we had left for work.
We tried a slew of deer deterrents, some high-tech, some not, but it seems the deer were here to stay and that they would not easily be swayed from eating at our backyard “buffet.”
Many gung-ho gardeners around here fence their properties to keep the deer out. This is an expensive option, and for us, just not possible. It took some experimenting, and some ingenuity on Hubby’s part (I am so thankful for my man!) but out veggie garden is now deer-free, without breaking the bank.
Here is how we do it:
First of all, all of our gardens are raised beds, in boxes. However, I think this concept would work in any type of garden, so don’t worry if your gardens don’t look like ours.
For large gardens you will need metal or wooden stakes and a roll or two of “deer fencing” from the hardware store. (In our store it is sold next to the bird netting and is a similar plastic-type material.) It is economically priced and can be stored and used year after year. You will also need some kind of tie – we use plastic twist ties.
Simply place the stakes around the perimeter of the garden and stretch the deer fencing across it, tying it into place. The two stakes close together on the left make the “door.” There is a piece of dowel on the bottom of this section of fencing for weight, and it stays closed by placing one of the holes of the netting over the twist-tie on the top of the pole. It’s nothing fancy, but it works.
All of our tall plants are put into these beds.
The shorter plants (vines, lettuces, carrots, onions, etc.) are placed in the smaller boxes. For these, we use bird netting (even cheaper than deer fencing) and wood dowels. Use the dowels to create bars on either side of the box and then drape the bird netting over top, tying in place (we use zip-ties on the tops, and twist ties on the corners so we can get in for weeding.)
It’s an easy and somewhat aesthetically pleasing solution, and as long as the plants stay within the netting, the deer won’t touch them. If your plants are tall and start to poke their heads above or out of your netted box you might need to raise your dowels (or say goodbye to your exposed plants!)
This system has kept our veggie garden deer free for three years. It is probably not perfect. We see many deer here, but I know there are other areas around here that see a lot more. But it works for us and I hope it might help out others who are afraid to garden because of the animals they share their backyards with.
There is one more thing that we have added to our gardens that have allowed us to grow flowers and shrubs in the backyard. They do not fall in the “frugal” category, but they do protect our investment in plants and shrubs and as a bonus they also keep cats, groundhogs, and other creatures away from the gardens. We have two of these and since installing them my bushes and flowers have reappeared and this year I am going to attempt to plant some herbs in these otherwise unprotected garden beds.
And there is peace between the humans and the deer.