Living off the grid connects people with nature, themselves, and even spiritual peace. Being out in the country, away from the fast-paced polluted lifestyle of the cities, is an experience that makes the entire lifestyle worth it. What inexperienced off gridders don’t realize is that in the countryside they are subject to a new enemy. Deer.
The best way to protect fruit trees from deer is to install an 8-foot tall fence around your garden or property. Other solutions like deer-resistant plants, and mechanical deer repellents are prone to failure. Deer are notoriously high jumpers and 8 feet is the minimum height for an effective fence.
Anti-deer repellent, textured foliage, rancid plants, and many more solutions are written about in other various articles. So why is building an 8-foot tall fence the secret you can’t miss? First, let’s start by going over why the other methods aren’t as cheap and effective as you think, as well as a secret arrangement of fences that confuse and repel deer effectively.
Deer-resistant garden plants
Deer, like humans, take their first bite with their nose. Plants that produce rancid and repulsive scents can drive away deer from vegetables and crops. Aside from odors, foliage that has thorns, hairs, and other annoying textures also repel deer.
Examples of these plants are:
Costly and Ineffective
But just like humans, deer have a subjective palette of taste and can sometimes be attracted to what other deer find repugnant. Not only that, if a deer is hungry enough it will stop at no hair or thorn to eat whatever plant is available.
Because of this, there is no assurance that the plant you buy is actually deer-proof. Plants are not only unreliable but at the same time can prove invasive of other vegetation. Catmint is an example of a plant that can be considered a weed because of how quickly it spreads and grows.
Deer-resistant plants are only ever a good choice if you’re looking for any kind of flowers or greenery you can grow around your home. Its purposes are limited to that goal and cannot assist in protecting other plants, most especially fruit trees.
Electric fences are surprisingly cheaper than 8-foot tall barriers. Because the fences electrocute the deer, all it takes is one or two mishaps before a deer is wary of coming closer to the fence. The electric current from these fences is non-lethal and does not hurt the animal long-term. Instead of feeling fear, deer, pets, and other unfortunate animals find the fences annoying instead.
Setting up these high-voltage wires don’t require much space and aren’t tall enough to be as distracting or unsightly as a tall fence. These posts can be moved easily and with a long-life battery, electric fences can be great for far and isolated parts of your property.
If you’re into solar energy, electric fences can be 100 percent powered through solar panels although some articles suggest that it’s cheaper to use the battery.
Weekly Maintenance, Winter, and Water
Of all the alternatives on this list, electric fences are the second-best way to handle deer in your property. But the downside of having it is the maintenance. Because deer can crawl underneath the electric fence, lowering the wire is crucial to keep those pests out. Which makes for the unfortunate event when weeds or plants grow up to it.
When a plant or weed touches the fencing, the blades of grass take a little bit of electric current and direct it to the ground. As more plants touch the wire, the electric current eventually decreases until it is fully compromised and no longer effective. This is a very big concern and is one of the reasons why weekly maintenance like cutting grass and weeds can be a tiresome task that adds up to frustration over time.
Electric fences also need water to be effective. In dry soil, the shock that passes through the ground is greatly reduced which makes the fences weak. Drought or winter season heavily affects the performance of electric fences and during such occasions, it’s usually advised to upgrade to a more powerful battery.
Most wires and electric fences can last you up to five to ten years. If you’re serious about living off the grid for more than a decade, building an 8-foot wire fence is still the best investment for year-round protection.
Deer problems are no stranger to the commercial market, companies all around the world especially in Western regions have developed deer repellents that you can spray, hang, or plant into the ground. These commercial sprays can be very cheap and effective compared to buying an extensive line of fences around your property.
Odor and taste are the main weapons that deer repellent companies use against the invasive troublemakers. Additives are added to the spray to help it stick to plants, leaves, tree barks, and fruits. A common tip that you may have not heard about is that shaking the spray helps activate the ingredients that may have settled to the bottom.
A common practice that’s often overlooked however is that deer will eventually get used to the rancid smells, which is why it’s highly encouraged to switch between several sprays every week so that the smell always stays fresh and foreign.
Smelly, Toxic, and Messy
Humans, like deer, are also incredibly abhorrent to rancid odors. Deer repellent can simultaneously be human repellent. Because the ingredients are usually created from rotten eggs and a mixture of other vile and odorous components, the final concoction is extremely foul and disgusting.
This makes visits to the garden not as pleasant and spiritual as an off gridder would hope. Although the smell does dissipate after a couple of days while still staving off deer, the first few days are always painful to the nose. Deer repellent must always be applied religiously for it to be effective as a long-term solution.
Motion Sensor and Infrared Sprinklers
Sprinklers are effective ways of getting rid of pesky deer in your property. Technology allows the sprinklers to discern between trees and moving animals, making sure it only sprays deer. Your pets and yourself are not immune to this however and it should be noted that these sprinklers can shoot at you. Don’t be surprised if your dog comes up to you dripping wet.
Infrared sensors are just as important, as motion sensing at night can be ineffective and therefore useless. If you’re going to ever invest in sprinklers, make sure it has infrared and motion sensing.
The biggest setback of using sprinklers against deer is that hoses eventually freeze during the winter, making it inevitable for you to pack up, drain, and keep your sprinkler over the cold season. Gardeners also advise moving sprinklers around the garden every so often so that deer don’t adapt and get used to its location.
Man’s best friend can be great at scaring away deer and other hostile or disruptive intruders. Dogs can patrol and sniff out incoming trespassers, especially if it’s a territorial dog-breed. The downsides of this are that your dog will have to be mainly outdoors to protect your plants 24/7 and that it will most likely be quite dirty.
Important note: Deer will adapt to dogs that are leashed and will eventually get courageous enough to eat plants even if the dogs are barking at them continuously. For your dog to be an effective deer repellent, it’s gonna have to be free to run around.
8-Foot Tall Fencing
If there’s anything that can work 24/7 without much maintenance and is a great long-term investment, fencing is your biggest friend. Deer can jump nearly 8-feet high on a good day, so fences always have to be this high to be completely effective.
There’s nothing worse than a 7-foot fence and a deer inside your garden. Make sure that your fence is secured to the ground so that deer can’t just crawl underneath the woven wire.
A good 8-foot fence can last you a long long time and with little to no maintenance. It’s a very simple proposition that’s easier said than done but it inevitably is the best deer repellent to date.
Deer are actually incredibly cautious jumpers and don’t like to jump into things that seem restraining. Alternatively, you can set up two 5-foot tall fences about five feet away from each other with the inner fence comprising of a cheaper material like chicken wire.
The five-foot space in-between the fences are close and high enough for the deer to feel trapped inside, making them avoid jumping over altogether. Just make sure to build the outer fence with a stronger material.
Wooden or Stockade Fences
Stockade fences actually work better than wire fences which deer can peer through. Deer are naturally hesitant at jumping over things they cannot see over, making wooden fences an anxious obstacle. These kinds of boarded-up fences do not need to be more than 6-feet tall to obstruct vision and protect your fruit trees and garden.
Are fruit trees deer resistant?
Fruits are delicious, healthy, and natural food sources in the wild that deer readily feast on. Although deer may not eat all types of shrubs and plants, deer ingest almost all types of fruit trees.
What fruit trees will deer not eat?
Deer usually avoid nuts, rancid, and distasteful fruits. To provide an example, here are a few deer-resistant trees: juniper, pines, spruces, and firs. There are a lot more, but the common fruits that we all enjoy eating are usually deer-prone.
What smells repel deer?
The foulest and rancid concoctions will always deter deer. Mixtures of rotten eggs, garlic, chili, chemicals are enough to make a homemade spray that can last you a couple of weeks. Deer can eventually get used to a certain smell, which is why it’s important to switch up the deer repellent sprays that you use.