If you live anywhere with green spaces surrounding your garden, you might be familiar with the issue of four-legged visitors popping by. While deer are undoubtedly beautiful, amazing creatures, they often aren’t very welcome in our garden spaces because of the damage they can cause. In this article, we’re going to explain how to keep deer out of your garden with fishing line, and some of the issues you might run into.
Putting up proper wooden fencing is not an option for some people; fences are costly, sometimes unsightly, and can stop other wildlife such as hedgehogs from traveling freely. They also spoil the view of any surrounding woodland or fields, as deer can jump high and fences may need to be as much as 10 feet high to stop deer from jumping over them.
Fishing line is inexpensive and unobtrusive in a garden, and as deer can’t see the barrier, they’ll be reluctant to try jumping over it, increasing the chances that they will simply walk away and find something else to munch on.
Do Deer Fishing Line Fences Work?
This seems to be an area of some debate; some people swear that fishing line fences are effective, but others say that they haven’t had much success with them. It’s likely that it depends to some degree on just how determined your deer are. If they’re desperate to get into your garden, a fishing line fence may not be enough to stop them.
That said, this type of fence is more appealing than some of the other deterrents such as noise-makers, many of which are also ineffective in the long term, and can be quite annoying for both the garden-owner and their neighbors.
In short, a fishing line fence might work, and as it isn’t going to cost a fortune in terms of times or materials, it’s likely worth a shot!
What Will You Need To Set Up A Deer Fishing Line Fence?
The fences aren’t very complicated and don’t take massive amounts of material; you should be able to get everything you require at a good home supplies store, and you may even have some of it already.
- Fence posts or some similar kind of stake, at least the height of a deer.
- Strong, clear fishing wire, strong enough that it won’t easily snap if a deer leans on it.
- A piece of PVC pipe which your stakes will slot into nice and snugly.
You’ll need to measure the area you want to fence, and buy your supplies accordingly. Stakes should be spaced around 15-20 feet apart, all around the perimeter you intend to protect, so bear this in mind when working out how many to purchase or you may find you end up short.
How Do You Set Up A Deer Fishing Line Fence?
Getting The Stakes In
Using a mallet, bang your stakes into the ground around the perimeter of the garden. Your stakes should be securely wedged in, with minimal wobble if you shake them. This will ensure the fence is sturdy. Keep one post aside for later use; it’s going to create a gate.
Remember to put the posts around 15-20 feet apart; much further, and they won’t hold the wire taut enough or offer enough support to create a secure fence.
Wiring Up The Fence
Tie the fishing line around the first fence post, approximately 14-18 inches from the ground. Make sure it is secure; you could use glue to fasten the knot in place if necessary.
Walk to the next post and wrap the line around it, allowing a little bit of slack to remain, but not enough that the line is loose and in danger of tangling around anything. Wrap the line around the post 3 times to ensure it is secure. Again, you could use glue to hold the line in place, but this may not be needed.
Move to the next post and repeat the process there; again, the line should be taut but not stretched, and you should wrap it around the post at least 3 times for maximum security.
Do this for each post, until you have gone right around the area. Once you have finished, repeat the process with a new strand, about 14-18 inches above the previous one. Keep doing this until you reach the top of the post, and remember that a higher fence will be more secure. If the ground behind your garden is high, account for this by making a higher fence.
When you’ve finished, you should have several rows of fishing line, ranging from quite low to the ground to at least head-height for a deer. You don’t want the deer to be able to feel that the fence ends, so the top layer is particularly important. Equally, you don’t want one ducking under it!
Making A Gate
Take your piece of PVC pipe and dig out a little hole a short distance from your first fence post. Drop the pipe in so that it sticks up about an inch above ground level, and then pack the soil around it, trying not to let any get inside.
Drop your final stake into the PVC pipe and tie fishing wire between it and your first fence post, and you have a little gate that you can easily open or close by simply lifting the post out of the pipe. This is particularly useful if you need to be able to cut through from the garden to the area behind.
What Are Some Problems To Watch Out For?
Animals Getting Tangled Up
As with any sort of barrier, there’s a danger to animals, particularly as they can’t see the fencing. Make sure you regularly check on the fence to spot any damage, and repair or replace bits promptly to avoid them becoming hazards to animals.
Remember also to pick up and remove any fragments of loose fishing line to ensure animals can’t eat it.
Not Aesthetically Wonderful
Although the line is invisible, the stakes will still show, and it isn’t the most beautiful solution. It looks a little cheap, and if it isn’t regularly maintained, it will definitely look a mess. Overall, a hedge might be a prettier solution.
Although we’ve included instructions to help you add a gate to it, this type of fencing gets in your way almost as much as it gets in a deer’s way. If you need regular access to the land behind your garden, you might find this fencing more trouble than it’s worth.
Which Plants Attract Deer to Your Garden
Deer are attracted to many flowers, trees, shrubs, and crops that might be in or around your garden. If you have some of these plants in your garden, you can blame the deer problem on them. Consider implementing some of the deer-deterring tips found later in this article. Using a variety helps.
One strategy used by gardeners with a deer problem is to plant some deer-attracting plants far away from the garden to give the deer another target to latch on to. These gardeners swear that planting these plants for the deer actually helps the problem and does not draw more deer to your garden.
Geraniums are a perennial that grow at the perfect height for deer to munch on easily. These plants grow in sun or partial shade and might be why you see deer near your garden. Deer eat these plants and their dark pink blooms.
Candy lily is another hardy perennial that is often nibbled on by deer. It grows in dry, shallow, rocky soil, so you can find it in gardens across the U.S. Deer will eat its orange, purple, and pink blooms.
Sea holly is a perennial that truly stands through some hard weather conditions. The plant grows in dry soil and likes full sun. Deer will eat the plant and any berries it produces.
Snowberries grow to be around 6 feet tall, making them an excellent choice for full-grown deer to nibble on. These shrubs grow in full sun or partial shade. Their tubular flower blooms mark the coming arrival of white berries that deer like to eat.
Serviceberries have blueberry-like berries that attract deer and can even be eaten by humans.
Elderberries can reach a tremendous height of 20 feet in the right environment. These shrubs have flower blooms that precede the arrival of shiny blackberries. Deer like to feast on these berries.
Petunias are a common plant made even more attractive by their affordable price. While deer may be attracted to your petunias, you can replace them for a small cost. When you do, make sure to house them in netting or use some other deterrents to keep the deer from eating them.
Sunflowers are a treat to deer, who can make more than one meal out of a single flower. It might be a good idea to plant these at the edge of your garden or in a separate location altogether. Give the deer their treats while preserving the rest of your plants.
Clematis is a perennial vine that comes back every year. Deer will climb the trellis or lean on the arch you planted it against in order to get to the clematis. Your plant may be damaged if the deer eat too much of it, so you may need to replace the vine occasionally.
Impatiens are decorative flowers that come in several different colors to add some interest to your garden. These are low plants, so they will be eaten easily by the deer that come to visit. You can protect these flowers by placing them high up in planters at the edge of your garden.
Deer are highly attracted to hydrangea bushes, which have flowers that can be blue or pink depending on the pH of the soil. Plant these near the edge of your garden, so if deer come to eat them, they will not destroy your garden in an attempt to access these.
Deer like to eat the fruits produced by cherry trees, which may draw them in toward your garden. These trees are usually 15 to 20 feet tall.
Deer are drawn to the plums that grow on plum trees. They can access low-hanging fruits or those that drop on the ground below this tree that grows from 12 to 15 feet tall.
Persimmon trees are known to drop hordes of persimmons to the ground, which attract deer. These tall trees can reach the height of 60 when they are mature. To keep deer away, pick up persimmons as they fall and use them or dispose of them in a tightly closed trash can.
Wheat is an annual crop that can help feed deer during the winter months. If you grow wheat and don’t want to allow deer access to it, put up a physical barrier out of fencing or netting.
Alfalfa is a perennial crop that has blue blooms. Deer will forage for this plant. You can use this plant as a deer attraction, planted far away from your garden to keep your other plants from being eaten.
Deer likes three varieties of clover: red clover, white ladino clover, and alsike clover. These are all perennials that grow in sunny areas. Deer will be attracted to clover in your yard, so make sure none is growing next to your garden to keep them at a distance.
Which Flowers Repel Deer
Deer will avoid poisonous, fragrant, fuzzy, or thorny plants. We searched for the most consistently touted plants that help deter deer. Plant some of these in your garden to help keep deer away and protect your remaining plants.
Perennial plants are a great investment in your garden because they come back year after year. Some perennial plants that are deer-resistant include:
- Bleeding hearts
- Russian sage
- Ornamental grasses
- Black-eyed Susan
- Lamb’s ear
Some poisonous plants that deer avoid include:
Deer also stay away from fragrant plants, including:
- Ornamental salvias
- Bearded irises
Plant some of these other deer-resistant plants in your garden:
- Silver Mound
- Butterfly Bush
- Lenten Rose
- Pot Marigold
- Dusty Miller
- Bachelor’s Buttons
- Spider Flower
- Autumn Crocus
- Lily of the Valley
- Wood Fern
- Purple Coneflower
- Crown Imperial, Fritilia
- Baby’s Breath
- American Holly
- Sweet Alyssum
- Lemon Balm
- Common Lilac
Certain vegetables and herb plants put off scents that deer do not like. You can incorporate these in your garden to help keep deer away. Here are some herbs and vegetables that you can plant to help deer-proof your garden:
- Wild Ginger
What Are Other Ways To Keep Deer Out Of Your Garden
You can keep deer out of your garden by putting up netting, using scent sprays, hanging reflective materials, and making use of sounds to scare the deer away. Using more than one method can help you to keep deer away for a longer period of time.
A logical solution to keep out deer and other outdoor creatures is to put up a fence around your garden. To keep out deer, you need to install a fence at least 8 feet above ground: they can jump over 6 feet. You should also bury the fence several inches underground for stability.
Your fence needs to surround your garden completely, or the deer will go around it and find their way in. Make sure your fence does not have gaps larger than six inches, or deer will be able to get past the barrier and access your plants.
Black Deer Netting
You can use netting to make a fence around your plants. Black deer netting is meant to be subtle, so you won’t have to sacrifice the views of your garden when you use it. Secure the netting with metal stakes.
Ideally, you want to make the barrier 8 feet tall, but if you don’t want an 8-foot fence in your yard, you could use two lower fences instead. Place one layer of fencing around your plants, then place another layer a few feet away. This should prevent the deer from jumping into your garden.
Deer Sprays and Scent Deterrents
Deer do not like a lot of smells. Some solutions include hanging bars of deodorant soap from trees and fences around your garden. You can also place other smelly but organic items, including mothballs, blood meal, decaying fish heads, or garlic, around your garden.
You could also make a deer deterrent spray with water and rotten egg, soap, or hot pepper. You can buy a number of sprays from home improvement stores but stick to ones with natural ingredients. Spray this on your plants and around your garden to keep deer away.
You can also sprinkle human hair around your garden. This holds the smell of humans, which will scare deer away.
Even mild noises can scare deer. You can place a wind chime next to or in your garden for a pleasant addition that will spook the deer away.
Other noises you could use include whistles, electric wires, radios, and flags. To incorporate electric wires, you could hang a string of lights up around your garden or stick solar lights in the ground around the edge of your garden.
Deer may also be kept at bay by other physical obstacles and sensory objects around your garden, including thorny branches, reflective surfaces, floodlights, and sprinklers. You can hang silver streamers in your fencing or pie tins.
Keeping deer out of your garden isn’t easy, and a fishing line fence may not be the perfect solution, but many people have had success with it.
It won’t cost you a fortune in materials or labor; you can probably build it yourself in a couple of afternoons, so it’s worth a try. It may be enough to keep your plants safe from hungry mouths and crushing antlers, and if it isn’t, you can look into proper deer fencing later.
One of the best aspects is that it’s not permanent, so it’s easy to remove if you want to put something else up, and you may even be able to re-purpose the materials.