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Constructing an Inexpensive Deer Fence

Categories: | Author: George | Posted: 3/20/2010 | Views: 12896
How to Build a Deer Fence to Protect Your Garden

Just look at that fence! What fence, you ask? Well, it is a bit difficult to see. That's one of its secrets. You see, deer have poor eyesight and are leery of that mysterious boundary. Another aspect of this fence design takes further advantage of this deer characteristic; read on to learn more about this inexpensive deer fence.

 I used this fence design last year to protect the giant pumpkins and it kept the critters at bay. This year I noticed that the deer had taken an interest in my orchard trees, so I constructed a new 290 foot fence to protect the garden and orchard. The photo at the beginning of this article also shows a completed swale, which is detailed in the Backyard Orchard & Garden: Permaculture '10 article.

Let's start by looking at a list of materials for the budget version of this project:

Description Approx. Cost Qty for 100' Fence Total
1/2" Galvanized conduit, 10' $2 ea 10 $20
Dupont Deer Netting, 7' x 100' $19 ea 1 $19
Zip Ties, 100 pack $8 ea 1 $8
PVC 1/2" caps $.30 ea 10 $3
Window Caulk, tube $4 ea 1 $4
Landscape Staples, 40 per pack $4 ea 4 $16
Landscape Fabric, 4'x225' $30 ea 1 (optional)
Spring Loaded Clips $1 ea 3 $3

 With a bit of careful shopping, a 100' deer fence will cost about $75, not including labor, of course. As you'll see in a bit, the landscape fabric keeps weeds and grass from growing through the fence--this fabric is optional and not included in the above estimate.

OK, let's get started!

1. First, determine the perimeter of the fence by measuring out from the trees to ensure that each tree has room to grow to a mature size within the fence.

2. Remove the grass along the fence line. (It's difficult to trim grass that grows through the fence netting--a lesson that I learned last year.)

3. To establish a straight line for the conduit poles, pound in stakes along the perimeter, then ran a string as a guide for the poles.

 4. Since the conduit is 10' long and the netting is 7' high, there's 3' to spare. The goal is to pound each pole 2' into the ground; this would leave 1' of pole above the netting. 

There's a reason for this setup, and herein lies the second secret in this fence design. Since the deer will find it difficult to see the top of the netting, they will probably judge the fence height by the poles, and 8' is more intimidating than 7'! I'll also be adding white caps to each pole to keep out water--this will further accentuate the pole height.

Note: To keep the pole plumb while I hammered it in to place, and to determine when the pole was 2' into the ground, I constructed a simple plumb-measuring device. This consists of 8' of string tied to a weight. While I stood on the ladder and installed the pole I periodically held the plumb-measure against the pole to determine if it was straight and fully sunk in the ground.

A Couple of Reminders

Remember, follow all safety precautions and instructions when using tools. Ladders are best used with two people (one to secure the ladder). Don't use ladders on soft or uneven surfaces--safety first!

Use common sense. Know where underground utilities, sewer lines, irrigation, etc. are before construction and don't wave the metal poles around electrical lines.

5. Install the poles about 10' apart. Some poles may encounter obstacles like rocks or tree roots during installation. If so, try moving the pole a few inches and try again. In some cases you may have to settle for less than a 2' depth.

6. Secure the deer netting using zip ties. Plan on using 4 or more ties per pole. For now, tighten the ties only to the point that they hold the netting in place.

When you get to the last section of fencing, secure the netting with spring clips (instead of zip ties)--this acts as a doorway into your garden.

7. (optional) Install landscape fabric below the fence to keep weeds and grass out.

8. Adjust the netting so 1-2" fold on to the ground. (The zip ties will slide on the conduit if you haven't completely tightened them.)

9. Insert landscape staples to secure the bottom of the netting so raccoons and other small critter stay out. Place staples every 1-2 feet.

10. Completely tighten all of the zip ties.

11. Finally, put a generous dollop of caulk inside each of the 1/2" PVC caps and place one on top of each pole. This will keep water out of the conduit and act as a visual queue to the deer.

 Your garden should now have a good chance of surviving those curious foragers. And hopefully you'll sleep better knowing that a nylon barrier stands between critters like deer and raccoons and your garden or orchard!

**For a More Sturdy Deer Fence!**

For a more durable deer fence solution, use 3/4" conduit or chain link tubing and a premium grade deer fence mesh. The premium mesh is significantly thicker and can better withstand snow build up and critter encounters, although it's more expensive at about $70-100 per roll (available at Amazon.com, in mail order catalogs and at some box store locations of Sams Club and Home Depot).

2011 Update

Due to some heavy snow last winter and one close encounter with a deer, I've decided to upgrade portions of the inexpensive deer fence installation.

First, a note about the deer encounter that occurred during the winter. One morning I gazed over at the orchard, the ground was covered with snow, and something looked different. Not immediately recognizing the change, I walked out for a closer look. 

In the snow was a set of deer tracks heading for the fruit trees, which stopped suddenly at the fence. The fence pole (1/2" conduit) was bent at about a 25 degree angle inward. Another set of tracks led away from the fence, back from where the deer had come.

The fence was not challenged again last winter, and the fruit trees were saved from damage. As luck would have it, the portion of the fence that was impacted was constructed with the heavy duty netting. I'm not sure if the inexpensive netting would have torn under the impact, so this year I'm upgrading all of the fence to the heavy duty product.

Planned Deer Fence Upgrades:

  • Replace all 300' of fencing with the heavy duty netting
  • Replace corner poles with 3/4" conduit for extra strength
  • Use plastic snap connectors to attach the netting to the 3/4" conduit


Snap Clamps

These pvc clamps are fantastic and make installation of the deer fence, well, a snap! I secured each clamp in place with a zip tie for added strength. (You can buy these clamps through Amazon, see the link below.)


Deer Fence Supplies




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