A question I get perhaps more than any other is “what do I do about deer eating my roses”. Despite the thorns deer love roses and many a rose bush has been destroyed by them. Plus, they always seem time their eating to right before the flowers open. There are multiple solutions out there and some seem to work and some don’t. Plantskydd is one product I hear good things about. However, I found another solution that really seems to work.
I was on Facebook not too long ago and saw a post by Joe Lamp’l. Joe is the creator and host of Growing a Greener World on PBS and can be found at his website www.joegardner.com. Joe posted that he has a raised bed vegetable garden enclosed by nothing more than a four foot fence. In the five years this garden has been in place no deer have ventured into it. Anyone who knows anything about deer realizes a four feet fence is child’s play for deer to jump over. So what stops them from coming in? It’s the way the raised beds are laid out and that came about by accident.
Joe didn’t want raised beds all in a row. Instead he wanted some design elements to it. When he designed the garden had the rectangular beds running in different directions. This turned out to be the key. Joe says this layout ended up confusing the deer when they looked over the fence. Deer have poor depth perception and they don’t like being dis-oriented.
Because the beds start just four feet from the fence the deer can’t perceive a clear landing area when looking over the fence before jumping. This makes them uncertain and that leads to confusion. Also the somewhat “maze” design they perceive heightens that confusion. Even if they did decide to jump the fence, the fact the pathways are not straight confuses and then scares them so they would leave.
Joe’s beds are four feet by twelve feet and eighteen inches high. He’s made them from untreated cedar wood. You can use other materials and different sizes but the key is to not have all the beds oriented in the same direction. Mix them up to make the pathways look more like a “maze”.
I realize there is an expense to building a garden like this. But think of all the money you’ll save in plants. I bet it pays for itself pretty quickly.
That is very interesting but, of course, would be difficult for established gardens. In that regard, however, several years ago someone suggested to me that just having two 4-foot high single-wire fences spaced four of five feet apart would have a similar effect, i.e. confusing the jumping deer, and wouldn't entail rebuilding the garden. The single wire fences could be built using fiberglass electric fence posts (available in farm stores) and insulated #12 or # 18 wire. In my case, I use single wire fences built with insulated wire with the insulation removed in strategic spots, which allows me to hang aluminum foil on those spots, smeared with peanut butter and deer attractant, and then electrified each night with a standard livestock electric fence controller (big jolt but harmless to both people and animals because of extremely low current flow). This is called the "Minnesota Deer Trick" and I wrote a "Minnesota Rose Gardener" blog about it several years ago:
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