Barrier hedge for deer?

donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)February 19, 2009

This probably isn't an idea that works since I'm sure I'm not the first to think of it, but I want to ask anyway. Is there any kind of plant that can be installed around say, a vegetable garden, that would be dense enough, thorny enough, or whatever, that deer could not get through it? I wonder about rose bushes, blackberries or raspberries, or something of that sort.

Anyone ever try it with success?

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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Donna, your examples are deer buffet here - three things I can count on them eating even when not especially hungry are roses, raspberries, native blackberries. Other types hedges at the height they would have to be to keep deer from going over if not through would give me entirely too much shade.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 8:59PM
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I can only imagine this working if:

- the hedge was really thick and high, like a closely planted row of hollies (Nellie R Stevens, perhaps), but they would need to be at a height that would probably interfere with the sun reaching the vegetables.

- there were double rows of hedges.

Frankly, a 7'-8' fence made out of deer netting is more economical and practical.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 9:20AM
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How about surrounding the perimeter with hardy Agaves or Yucca? They'd have to be far enough away from the garden that the deer can't just reach over them (plus you don't want them getting any supplemental water when you water the veggies).

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 9:44AM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

The normal way to do this is to build the fence, then hide the fence with shrubbery.

You have to remember, deer are not human. What a human may think of as a nasty, spiky, must-avoid plant, a deer may think of as lunch. So unless the hedge is deer proof, they will just get through it. If you've been around for threads where people are trying to keep dogs inside yards with just plants, you'll have some idea of the impractically of the idea.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 10:16AM
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Your question is a really good one. Not sure how much this will help but I have some friends who live in a prime deer grazing area out of town a bit. Every year their veggie garden was subject to nocturnal raids by Bambi and finally they could not take it anymore and put an eight foot fence around the whole thing. It isn't the most aesthetically pleasing thing ever but it does work. I noticed they have now put one around the raspberries also. The deer continue to eat all her flowers still and nibble right up to the fence and whatever might be sneaking out from beneath it.

The trouble with a hedge is that unless it gets really tall, and even if it does, they will probably just jump right over it.

Hope this helps.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 1:37PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Consider a solar powered electric deer fence. Apparently it works in most cases with 1 strand of wire installed 3 feet high, in extreme cases a 2nd fence is installed 3 feet away with another strand of wire.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 3:47PM
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gottagarden(z5 western NY)

Holly won't work, they love my holly and eat it to the ground.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 5:13PM
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Deer have eaten my yucca this year. They do eat Nellie Stevens hollies, but not Oakleaf hollies (so far).

It will take years to grow a hedge thick enough to keep deer out.

I'd love a veggie garden, but our home owners association prohibits fences over 4 feet high and must be of a certain type, even though we're on 4.5 acres. Rules like that need to be changed, but I'm not up for a fight right now! I'll just help support the local farmer's market by buying veggies locally.


    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 9:28AM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Thanks, folks. I was afraid this would be the answer. I have the same situation, Cameron, with homeowners association, in addition to neighbors who delight in feeding the deer in their yard. I guess I will use my deer shocker sticks and hope for the best.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 10:54AM
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goodhors(z5 MI)

Well you might try the fishline thing, put up posts, zig-zag the fishline around in a wide depth surrounding the garden area. Put up the electric right next to the garden part.

The single posts around garden area, to hold up string, could be taller than 4ft, not really a VISIBLE (from the road) fence between them. Posts could be TRELLIS for beans or potted plants!!

Around here, deer jump well, 5ft is not much to hop. But width of several string rows, string they can't see to estimate, is said to deter them. So bouncing off your strings between posts, in a couple rows before garden, plus electric fencerow of several wire heights (which could prevent small varmints), might be helpful. Solar charger might work in your area, with backup batteries for cloudy days.

I grow tomatoes, which don't seem very appealing to deer, just my thieving dog.

The deer net fence is supposed to work, but needs to be tall to be effective.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 9:14PM
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A single fence needs to be 8 feet tall, but a double fence can be 4 feet tall. Each fence needs to be 4 feet from the other one. They only way a hedge could be effective is if the deer can not see what is on the other side. They won't jump unless they can see where they will land. Of course deer don't hesitate to stand on their back legs to look over if they can. I tested electric fences here and found they were only effective in the winter when the soil would contain enough moisture to make a good ground. Al

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 3:00PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Al, would the four feet between the two low fences have to lie fallow, or could something conceivably be planted safely there? I'm not sure I would have space for two fences, but it IS a thought.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 6:04PM
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i have 20 ac. with the pond to water the deer herd that lives in the public heavily forested land behind me. 1st year they ate veggies, roses, perrenials you name it to the ground with plenty of grass to cross before they got here. i spied at Lowe's in ia. bundles of green painted bamboo? canes, dried out, about 3'tall and 1/2" thick up there, clerk said stick in ground and connect with fish line. go back here, found garden. stuck in canes about 2' apart, never did get the fish line up and just hitting the canes spooked them. they walk around the yard at night but leave that area alone. had late but gorgeous garden that year a everything, almost, grew back like they had to make up for lost time.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 1:32AM
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newbie_in_nj(6b E/Central NJ)

My first thought was a firing squad after they finish with the groundhogs.

It's advisable to put some reflective tape or something on the thin wires anyone might string up between posts or trees. A human could easily not see it if they don't know it's there (or forget it's there if they do know) and get injured if running into thin wire especially if it were at throat height.

The 2 fences 4 feet apart is often suggested by extension agencies and seems like a better solution. You could plant things you have found "your deer" don't bother as much keeping in mind it not grow too high to shade you veggie garden.

Found this interesting site 'Athens Select' for heat & humidity tolerant plants tested by Alan Armitage. Suppose you know about them since they're marketed in the gulf states.

Good luck with your hunt for a solution.

Here is a link that might be useful: Athens Select -Tested Heat/Humidity Tolerant Plants

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 6:57AM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

Bow hunters in the high deserts will swear on a case of Coors that deer are really, really spooked by the smell of cosmetics.

I suggested on a couple of occasions that some gardeners should try a two dollar bottle of fragrance from WalMart and report back. The test would require months perhaps and any report might have been lost in time.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 11:41AM
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newbie_in_nj(6b E/Central NJ)

Differing scents are said to "confuse" deer. This year I'm trying interplanting the most aromatic, nonrhizomatous herbs around the gardens to see if it helps with deer & rabbits.

As one sage poster said last year...critters don't read the "resistant lists" or the plethora of suggestions for keeping critters from decimating plants.

Unfortunately the groundhogs smell so bad themselves they aren't offended by any aroma I install!

Smelly soap shavings around plants, nylons filled with milorganite at deer nose level and highly aromatic herbs are my strategy for now...and a few fences up just through spring to keep them from trampling new growth or little seedlings altogether.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 5:36AM
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They sell a mixture made of rotten eggs for spraying on selected plants to keep the deer from eating them. It works OK but must be resprayed after a rain. It is also expensive and does not make a rose that smells like rotten eggs, a good candidate for your flower vase. Al

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 9:52AM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Was digging (digging...digging...digging....) the new bed areas this week and saw THREE deer parading through my back woods in broad daylight with me and my dog right there watching. (Worthless dog!)

I keep reading these suggestions with interest, but somewhat fading hope.

The one that most intrigues me is the idea of two four foot high fences. I'm thinking the outer one to look nice, the inner one to be cheap (at least it could keep out the rabbit), but somewhat camouflaged by plants, etc. On the other hand, I wonder if I planted things between the fences, if the deer would graze awhile, and then hop the inner fence? (Now, wouldn't that be disgusting!) Any thoughts on this possibility?

In the meantime, I am going to put my deer shocker sticks in each bed and see if that will keep them away. It has definitely kept them out of my tulips this spring.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 8:46PM
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Hi Donna, What are deer shocker sticks? I have three deer that have a morning and evening routine of walking thru my yard with my two beagles barking away but does it phase the deer? NOT! I'm at my wits end. I really wish they would go somewhere else and live. Arrgh!! Judy

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 2:17PM
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cynandjon(Z 5/6)

I use deer out, its natural our deer dont like it and it doesnt wash off as easily as the others.
Deer can crawl under a fence. one crawled under a deck to get to a fenced in garden at my sisters. She seen it in her garden and couldnt believe it. There is no other way it could have gotten in,the fence is 9ft.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 11:10AM
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jayco(5b NY)

The scents that deer avoid during hunting season, or in the wooded areas where hunters hunt, are totally different from what they will avoid in your garden. It's all about what they are accustomed to, and what they have learned is safe or dangerous from experience.

In our area they have learned that human smells in the garden do not mean danger when they come at night to eat that garden. But, when they are in the woods during hunting season, the scent of humans scares them and they will keep away.

The only thing that has worked for me is to spray plants with one of the products designed to repel them, or to build a fence.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 1:30PM
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Something that you may want to look at is permaculture and more specifically a book called Gaia's Garden. In the book there is a section that talks about natural deer barrier with plants that they won't want to go past but they will eat on the side you want to keep them on. The general concept is ecological design and biomimicry.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 3:59PM
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