Outsmarting the Intruders

“Absolute” critter prevention would require fencing that you could sell to the nearest maximum-security prison when you got tired of looking at it. But if you can life with keeping them out almost all of the time, here’s a checklist. It does not consider aesthetics, and while we’re on the subject, don’t forget that whatever you build is only as good as the gate.

deer-fence-for-garden-diy-deer-proof-garden-fenceDeer. The fence should be 8 feet high if the fence is vertical, 6 feet if it slopes outward at a 45-degree angle (they don’t like broad jumps). Neither fence needs to be solid; all you need is some kind of barrier (wires are the easiest and least expensive) running horizontally from post to post, at intervals no more than a foot apart. Electricity is optional, but recommended for the 5-foot level. Bait it with peanut butter so they get a warning shock that tells them to avoid the fence.


Rabbits. Galvanized 1-inch wire mesh fencing or chicken wire, at least 2 feet high and at least 10 inches under the ground (they’re good burrowers). No power needed.

Woodchucks. Galvanized 1-inch wire-mesh fencing, at least 2 feet high and at least 10 inches straight down, with an additional 8 inches bent forward underground, making an L-shape (with leg of the L on the garden side) — woodchucks make rabbits look like pikers in the burrowing department. No power needed.

All three. Start with galvanized 1-inch wire-mesh fencing, the 5-foot size. Bury the bottom 18 inches of fencing, as described under woodchucks. Above the fencing, string wire at 4 feet high, and then at 1-foot intervals up to 8 feet high. If you’re not worries about raccoons, you can string wire at 4 and 5 feet, then run a band of black plastic netting between the 5-foot wire and the one at the top. If you are worried about raccoons, electrify the 4-foot wires and bait them as above under deer.


One thought on “Outsmarting the Intruders

  1. We are very fortunate that only deer a a serious problem. The rabbits can eat what they want, but do not often do much damage within the important parts of the garden. Deer fences were necessary around large areas at the farm when we started to grow camellias. In my own home garden, the lower boundary is too steep of a cliff for deer to get up. On the uphill side, I surrounded it with common yucca that I got from work. Instead of dumping it, I brought it to the garden and plugged it in. The deer are repelled by it, probably because they do not know that it is soft. They might instinctively perceive it to be more like Joshua tree.


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