How to Install a Deer Fence to Keep Wildlife Out of Your Garden
If you don’t want to invite roving mountain lions into your garden to act as deterrents, a deer fence is the best option.
It’s not for everyone! It takes a lot of work and can be quite expensive, but the results speak for themselves.
Here’s the expert deer fencing tutorial you need to do this installation at home, in your own yard.
Plus, you’ll find suggestions for where you can get some of our favorite tools and materials.
Let those deer know the buffet is closed!
How Much Do I Need?
There are a few properties I work at that use deer fencing, but one stands out above the rest.
Our property extends for miles, and is completely surrounded by fencing to keep deer and other visitors away. The driveway is the only part of the property that is not protected by fencing, and you can bet your bottom dollar this is the only entrance and exit for our furry friends.
If you don’t need to cover your entire property, putting up a fence just around your vegetable garden works great too. One of my clients lets the deer eat her ornamentals, but fences in her vegetables.
Think about natural barriers and structures that could serve as portions of a wall, thus reducing the need for fencing. It may seem insignificant when you’re ordering hundred-foot rolls of fencing, but it could save you from having to purchase an additional, wasted roll if your shed consumes 20 feet.
What Kind of Supplies Do I Need?
As long as you have the fencing itself, some kind of support to mount it to, and something to tie the fence to those supports, you can improvise a lot with this project.
Sod staples work in a pinch when you don’t want to purchase pins specifically designed for deer fencing. I have attached fencing to trees, rebar, and light posts with zip ties, wire, and staples.
When installing your fence, consider the following options:
Supports – Anything You can Attach your Deer Fence To
- 9-10 foot lengths of rebar
- Deer fence posts (more on this below)
- Structures already in place
Fasteners – Anything You Use to Attach your Fence to Supports
- (My preferred option) Zip ties
- Wire that is strong but flexible
- To avoid degradation, choose synthetic rope.
- The staples
Installation Tools – Anything to Help Install Your Fencing
For driving supports into the ground, you need a strong hammer
Good pruners work well for cutting wire and fencing.
A stapler and staples (carpenter staples are ideal)
Wear gloves (the fencing can have sharp or pokey parts)
Ladders – Strong and Safe Support to Reach up High
- The Little Giant style ladder is our favorite, but any safe ladder that reaches these heights will do.
The following items will be needed if you are installing your fence with specialty posts:
- The sledgehammer
- Cap for drivers
- Ground stakes OR sod staples
- Netting for deer
- Posts for deer fences
- Fasteners of your choice, such as zip ties
How to Install Deer Fencing
No matter which installation method you use, I’ll cover each step of the process, and do my darndest to address likely problems you’ll encounter.
1. Outline Your Fence’s Perimeter
How many people start this workload without considering where they are going?
You can determine the distance your fence will cover using a measuring wheel or old-fashioned tape measure. This will give you a good idea of the amount of fencing you’ll need. However, add 10% extra to account for errors in fence material needed, mistakes, and eventual replacement.
Keep in mind the distance eaten up by permanent structures such as buildings and thick hedgerows.
2. Lay Out Your Corners
You don’t have to build your fence on a square area; “corners” are interchangeable with “cardinal points.”
Whenever you run into a complication or error during the installation, you can always refer to your laid-out reference points to get back on track.
Make sure you can spot those points without squinting too much by placing some high-visibility tape or spray paint.
3. Start Your Installation
Let’s get fencin’!
If you want a clean and crisp look, you can snip loose all of those hanging bits from the edge of the netting before attaching it.
When installing deer fencing, I like to start with a strong zip tie or wire wrap. If you’re attaching your fencing to a new support, follow these guidelines:
For Rebar or Similar Supports
Put a hammer to that sucker!
Most deer fencing is sold at a height of about eight feet, so your supports need to be at least eight feet above ground after you’ve firmly inserted them into the ground.
This can be done with a post hole driver or by hammering it down the old-fashioned way.
Don’t use cheap materials like bamboo. They will eventually rot and undo all your hard work.
For Deer Fence-Specific Posts and Sleeves
Place the sleeve where you want it installed in the ground, and plop the striking cap into place. If you’ve got a partner, have them hold the sleeve while you carefully hammer the cap into place. You can drive the sleeve into the ground like you would a nail into wood if you are alone.
Place the sleeve flush with the grade, then add the post. It should slide into place effortlessly.
Work your way up the support by attaching the fence from the bottom up. When stretching it out, leave about 4-6 inches of play to account for dips and hills. If you don’t need that play, you can staple the extra fence down and flush with the ground.
You may need to watch out! Sometimes the netting retains its curling shape from when it was rolled, so it will fight to restore it. To eliminate that memory, stretch your fencing out a few feet and bend it against the direction it was rolled up.
4. And Continue That Installation!
You can safely space most lightweight deer netting about 20 feet apart from posts, while metal fences and those made of heavier materials should be spaced about 15 feet apart.
Install your supports at these intervals, then unroll your fencing. Attach it with whatever material you prefer. I prefer zip ties, but whatever works for you!
If you encounter obstacles in the way (like houses) you can attach the fence to them with carpenter staples and cut the netting flush, then continue on the other side of the obstacle. If you reach the end of your fence and return to the starting point, simply tie the fencing together as cleanly and attractively as possible and wrap things up!
Reinforcement and Repairs
You can reinforce your deer fence without pouring cement and installing machine gun turrets by choosing deer-resistant trees or deer-proofing your garden in general.
Studying natural deer barriers like hedges, walls, and deterrents can help you install a deer fence in a way that protects your property. Employing repellents such as Scram can be effective, but providing an alternate food source can also work well. In my uncle’s backwoods garden plot, he’s learned to live with some level of deer damage by stocking corn and apples a thousand feet away from his garden plots. The hungry deer are less likely to destroy crops if they’re fed beforehand!
Should I Use a Tension Wire?
It depends on the situation!
You can keep your fence secure and taut by running a wire along the top of your posts, but I don’t think it’s necessary. It invites a world of aggravation into the installation and also the maintenance, so I don’t recommend using a tension wire. However, here’s how:
Wrap the tension wire firmly around the rebar and continue with the next step.
If you are using specialty fence posts for this project, you need to make a loop with the wire and run a Gripple through it, then tighten the gripple with the ratcheting tool. The fence posts will bend as you work up and down the line with this method, but applying equal tension along the fenceline will help straighten them out. Zip ties or your preferred fasteners can be used to attach the top edge of the fence to the tension wire.
To use the specialty fastening tools, you will need:
- Ratcheting tool Gripple
- There are grips
- Cable made of steel
Despite being hidden from your view, a well-done fence should still be visible to deer and birds.
When you first install your fence, deer are not used to the barrier and could jump into it, ruining your hard work.
The fence has also caught several dead birds, so let’s minimize that grisly sight as well.
It’s best to hang rolls of high visibility tape every six feet or so from the fence at about head height. Let the loose ends dangle in the breeze so that animals can spot it.
The fencing strongly discourages deer from entering the zoned-off area, but if they need to, they can jump through it.
It is also common for deer to jump up to 8 feet in the air, so if your fence has a low point, they may try to leap over it… Sadly, this often results in the fence being torn down in that location because the deer cannot jump over it.
Thus, we arrive at…
Repairs and Maintenance
You can easily check for damage by walking along your fence line once a week or so.
I’ve seen deer scuffle underneath the fencing, so don’t forget those pins. Zip up sections of the fence that have come undone from their supports, or reinsert them in the ground to keep them in place.
If it’s a small tear in the material, you can zip it back up with your fastening material; it’ll be a little ugly, but it gets the job done!Otherwise, you should use the spare netting you’ve got stashed somewhere. Using scissors or your pruners, cut out the damaged area. Cut a new piece of fencing and – yep, you guessed it – zip it in place.Cut your repair piece so that it’s one square larger than the area you are fixing.For example, if you’ve cut out a section of fencing that is 6 squares tall by 8 squares wide, your replacement piece should be 7 squares tall by 9 squares wide. This helps reinforce the strength of your repair.
That’s All For Now
This isn’t a very challenging project, is it? As long as you’re willing to put in some labor installing the posts, you just need to tie and zip them up! It’s an easy project to accomplish. By setting up an 8-foot fence to protect your vegetables, ornamentals, and other property from voracious deer, you’ll be able to sleep better at night.