The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Critter-proof garden fence

Fenced garden

We built our current garden higgledy piggledy as the whim struck and as our energy allowed. But the plan for homestead 2.0 is to figure out how much garden area we need then to put in a critter-proof fence from the get-go.

Daddy's newly fenced garden is my current inspiration. He used 10-foot 4x4s (sunk two feet deep) every 16 feet, with 8-foot t-posts (with rebar exenders) in between (except for the corners, which had 4x4s at 8-foot intervals). Add in woven wire fencing plus some brace wires and you're done. Total cost --- $1,000 for 100x60 feet (about 0.14 acres). "No deer so far," he reports.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Should you find deer to be a problem for your new garden, I want to share the latest in (relatively) inexpensive deer fencing I heard about from a Penn State grad student in forestry: 2 sets of 4-ft high fencing set about 4-6 ft apart. The deer won't jump between the 2 and can't make the double leap. Much cheaper than 8-ft high fencing.
Comment by Julie Mon Jul 17 07:56:46 2017
We have a lot of deer problems too, and after years of frustration put in a solar electric fence. It was easy to install (diy by my husband) and has been very effective. Highly recommend! The solar fence charger we use is by Gallagher.
Comment by Susan Mon Jul 17 10:12:34 2017

We lost a lot of plants and produce in our first 3 gardens here due to deer, raccoons, possums and rabbits. This year, we put up a 4 foot woven wire fence (2x4). It did not even slow down the rabbits much less the bunnies. We're going back now and putting chicken wire around the bottom of the fence. It's much better so far and we're hoping the chicken wire resolves all the issues. Except the bugs of course.

The deer also liked munching on our young apple tree limbs and leaves that we planted in the spring of '16. Last fall, we put up 50# test fishing line (becomes invisible) around our small orchard of apple trees. We used 8 foot tposts, driven in 2', and wrapped the fishing line around 3 times, high, medium & low. We tied bright red flagging to the top line. The line is at least 3' from any of the limbs. We've watched the deer come up and try to stretch across the lines to nibble the leaves only to back off. And it will be easy to move when we add more trees. Good Luck!

Comment by Mary Mon Jul 17 23:08:04 2017

I have been generally happy with the eight foot fence that we built around our garden. We also used ten foot wood posts with 8 foot t-posts in between. I used two rolls of 4 foot field fencing rather than an expensive eight foot height, using wire to secure the upper and lower sections every few feet. I have really only had two issues related to the fence:

  1. If the gate is open, deer still come inside the fence. (One of these days I'll build a garden gate with a spring that swings shut!) I have had this happen three different times over the past five years. Each time the deer is extremely nervous and tries to jump over the fence rather than to go back out the gate. Twice they actually cleared the fence with the first half of their body and flipping over the fence with their back half! Both times that I have seen this I was amazed at how high they could jump with they are scared. They end up bending the fencing and making it not quite as nice looking, but it still held. One time the deer went to jump between the top and bottom section of fencing and got stuck several feet off the ground. I had to cut the fence to let it go free.

  2. Smaller critters can still get through field fence. My chickens have learned to look for the larger openings and jump through. I have had some success with attaching a cheap roll of 2 foot poultry netting to the bottom of the fence. This would probably help with rabbits too. I still can't believe the fox that I saw in my chicken yard, which also has this same fencing. The birds were going crazy so I raced outside to see the fox inside with the chickens. She saw me, ran away, and leaped about four feet high, right through the fence, and kept running, not even breaking stride, as if the fence wasn't even there. We occasionally have problems with skunks that find their way where the chickens are (they are not jumping, but miraculously find their way inside too).

I have come to the realization that fencing is just a deterrent, not a fool-proof protection. But it helps to become familiar with animal behavior and find a way to deter the majority of the potential issues.

Comment by David Wed Jul 19 12:54:38 2017

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