Deer eat a wide variety of plants, including flowering specimens, vegetables, shrubs and trees. Along with their minimally selective palate, deer can jump high, making it especially difficult to keep them away from the smorgasbord of a garden. To build the best fence to keep deer out of your garden, keep in mind how high and how far a deer can jump, as well as the type of terrain where you will put your fence.
The height a deer can jump varies from one species to another and also depends upon the terrain. For instance, when a slope borders a fence that is too high for a deer to jump, the deer can use the slope for extra leverage and jump over the fence. Deer usually won't jump a 6-foot-tall fence unless they are chased, according to the University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program website. In that case, deer can clear an 8-foot-tall fence when jumping from ground level, and they can clear an 11-foot-tall fence when jumping down slope.
Things You'll Need
- Post-hole digger or auger
- Measuring tape
- Wood fence posts
- String or twine
- Calculator (optional)
- Carpenter's level
- Hoe or similar tool
- Woven-wire fencing
- Wire cutters
- Pulling jack or pull rod
Staples at least 1 3/4 inches long
Step 1: Place Corner Posts
Dig a hole 3 1/2 feet deep, using a post-hole digger or an auger, at each end of where you want to put one side of a woven-wire fence. Put one wood fence post in each hole. These posts are the fence's corner posts.
Step 2: Stretch Guide Between Posts
Tie string or twine to one corner post. Stretch it to the other corner post, and fasten it in place to create a straight line between the posts.
Step 3: Measure Fence Length
Measure the distance from one corner post to the next corner post. Divide that distance by 50 inches, which is the desired distance between the fence's additional posts, called line posts. If the distance between corner posts doesn't allow for exactly 50-inch spacing between line posts, then reduce the spacing between the line posts so they will be spaced evenly along the fence. If, for instance, the distance between corner posts is 26 feet, multiply 26 by 12 to convert feet to inches; the result is 312. Divide 312 by 50, which results in 6.24. Average up, and divide the distance from corner post to corner post by 7. In this example, 312 divided by 7 equals 44 1/2 inches between line posts.
Step 4: Dig Line Post Holes
Dig line post holes 2 feet deep. Space holes the distance apart determined by your calculations for even line post spacing, but place the holes no more than 50 inches apart.
Step 5: Set Posts
Place fence posts in the holes. Keep the line posts and corner posts vertical by using a carpenter's level to check them as you fill the remainder of each post's hole with soil. Tamp the soil tightly around every post, using the handle of a hoe or other tool to pack the soil.
Step 6: Install Woven Wire
Remove several vertical strands of wire from woven-wire fencing. Wrap that section of fencing's horizontal wires around a corner post. Twist each loose wire end back into the woven wire by using pliers, splicing into its respective horizontal strand.
Step 7: Stretch Wire
Walk to the second corner post, and attach a pulling jack or pull rod to the fence's wire mesh. Weave the rod through the wire. Attach the puller, and apply tension. Pull the wire tight enough to straighten the woven wire's tension curves -- the little curved sections in the horizontal wire -- by one-third.
Step 8: Fasten Wire to Posts
Staple woven-wire fencing in place using staples at least 1 3/4 inches long. Leave wiggle room when stapling wires to the posts, allowing for expansion or contraction of the fence during various weather conditions.
Drive staples at a 45-degree angle from side to side into the posts and at a downward angle, as opposed to straight into the posts.
Step 9: Complete Each Fence Side
Complete each fence side in the same manner that you made the first side, with the exception of the gate side.
Step 10: Complete the Gate Side
Set corner posts on each side of the gate opening. Stretch wire from a corner post to a gate post, and tighten and fasten the wire to the gate post in the same manner you attached wire to the first corner post.
Your gate should be as tall as your fence to prevent deer from entering at its point. Attach hinges and other gate hardware to the gate posts.
Even though a deer is capable of jumping a distance of 20 feet, it can't jump both high and long at the same time. For this reason, double fencing can effectively keep deer out of your garden. If you already have a standard-height fence, one that is 4 to 5 feet tall, then adding a second, similar fence 4 feet from the original fence can prevent deer from leaping into your garden, according to a University of Vermont Extension article.
For additional approaches to keeping deer away from your prized plants, see How to Keep Deer From Eating Flowers.