Controlling for Deer

Photo courtesy of Smalley Photography

Photo courtesy of Smalley Photography

If you expect to be able to harvest some of what you grow in your school garden, keeping deer out is vital. There are several ways to achieve this goal. You can use deer repellents and strategies, mesh coverings, or adequate fencing. High winds can quickly carry away any repellents or carry off mesh coverings. Due to the continuous maintenance needed for repellents and coverings even when winds are not a factor, adequate fencing is the best option for a school garden.

What qualifies as an adequate fence?

In the Pikes Peak region of Colorado we have both white-tail deer and mule deer to consider. White tail deer can jump as high as 15 feet but will rarely do so unless threatened by a predator. An adequate fence serves as enough of a deterrent to keep deer away from your yummy vegetables. There are several types of fencing designs that aim to keep deer out. There is double fencing in which low fences are spaced three to four feet apart. There is also a slanted fence design. These two designs appear to be more popular in areas where white-tail deer are the only issue. In places where mule deer live, a seven to eight foot fence design is utilized which also deters white-tail deer. Another fencing design may be to use electronic fencing. If creating fencing for a school garden, however, there is little evidence that it would be worth the additional cost. Various sources have stated that a fence of woven wire standing eight feet high consistently controls for deer damage. Of course, every landscape is different and you may need to make accommodations to fence height if gardening on a hillside for example. Also, ensure that deer cannot crawl under the fence either.

Cost of fencing

Here are some ideas on how to cover the cost of fencing:

  • Reach out to parents of the school. There may be a parent with a fencing company willing to make a donation or offer a reduced cost.
  • There may be a company willing to donate fencing or has mildly damaged fence adequate to your needs which they cannot sell.
  • You can also use a six-foot mesh fence and then add on two or more strands of 9- or 10-gauge smooth wire spaced 4 to 6 inches apart above making it higher.
  • Take the time to ensure that you have the right fencing for your needs. It may be a large task at first but once it is complete it will be of little concern later. One more tip, be sure to have your fence up before planting! Deer will not be as interested in trying to get in if they don’t know what they are missing out on.

For more detailed information check out these sources:

Preventing Deer Damage: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/natres/06520.html

Pests in Gardens and Landscapes; Deer: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74117.html

Deer; Damage Prevention and Control Methods: http://icwdm.org/handbook/mammals/mam_d25.pdf

Deer: http://wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/Profiles/Mammals/Pages/Deer.aspx

Deer Control Protection For Your Garden Plants: http://gardenersnet.com/atoz/deer.htm

 

Page Authored by: Heather A. McMillin

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