Tips for creating deer fences that are beautiful in their own right

Updated Feb 6, 2024
Keeping deer out with fences can be both effective and decorative. Photo: John NeffKeeping deer out with fences can be both effective and decorative.
Photo: John Neff

When you’ve spent hours planning, designing, planting, and maintaining a landscape, catching a deer nonchalantly munching the rose bushes or discovering a bed of daylilies has been decimated overnight is enough to make even the most mild-mannered landscaping pro hopping mad.

Photo: www.skydesigns.usPhoto:

The best defense against the elegant ungulates is a fence, but sometimes they can be more of an eyesore than homeowners are willing to overlook.

However, environmental planner and designer Brian Barth recently wrote on that by incorporating height, width, overhead obstructions, and slope, it is possible to create fencing that is both defensive and aesthetically pleasing.

“One or several of these ingredients may play a role in your fence design, but above all, the fence should fit with its environs,” Barth writes. The following are some of his tips for protecting landscapes from deer without sacrificing style or design:

    • On its own, wire mesh fencing is not attractive, but by framing it on all sides with wood rather than metal stakes, you can create an unobtrusive deer barrier. Use wood that matches other landscaping elements so the fence becomes part of the overall environment. The black plastic mesh sold as “deer fencing” can also be framed in wood. And because it is lightweight, it can also be supported by bamboo poles or small-diameter wooden posts.
    • Although deer are capable of jumping fences as tall as 7 feet, they usually don’t jump over an obstacle without plenty of space on either side, and nothing hanging overhead. Enter the pergola, whose cross members dissuade leaping, even if the fence is only 6 feet high.
    • Create a fence by installing vertical posts close together. “It feels open and airy and has a sense of visual permeability that is hard to achieve in any other style,” Barth writes. Posts that are at least 7 feet tall and spaced less than 8 inches apart will keep deer out.
    • Although deer can jump high and far, they can’t do both at the same time. Planting a hedge on either side of a fence softens the structure, adds greenery, and also thwarts deer leaps.
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