A few weeks ago, I wrote about the deer appropriating and ravaging my garden. In the winter they ate the yew. In the spring they devoured hostas, Stargazer lilies and roses. They left the peonies alone— and a good thing, too. I would have taken up arms for the first time in my life. In the summer they broke into the vegetable garden and decapitated the tomatoes. And they began on the hydrangeas. That was the final straw.
So I began my campaign, meticulously researching the methods available to protect my garden. All the remedies fall into one of two camps: they either repel the deer with some putrid-smelling concoction applied to the plants or they prevent them from entering the garden altogether.
There are too many plants to be dousing them all with coyote urine (deer fear their natural predators), or coating them with pepper spray or decorating them with human hair— just a sampling of the organic remedies. People have had success installing sprinklers and alarms with motion sensors, but then how do you walk in your own garden without being soaked or repelled by the malodorous sprays?
The strategies for preventing deer from invading the land you want to protect include electric fences (what happens to your pets?) that deliver a startling but not lethal surprise. I considered those rolling rods in the ground, but discarded that idea when I found out people can’t walk on them any more than cattle can. (If you know the name of that device, please comment.) There is deer fencing, a kind of open mesh made of either plastic or metal.
When the deer started on the hydrangeas, I made up my mind and began checking out deer fences and their installation. It’s not a cut-and-dry proposition. Everyone had a different theory about the best way to enclose the garden. The big problem was the large opening at the entrance to the house. Any barrier I put there would necessarily be off-putting, ugly and unwelcoming. I had to decide which was worse: a less attractive front of the house or a garden bereft of flowers but filled with chomped-off stalks. I chose one and crossed my fingers.
In the end, I think I made a good choice. In most places the fence is hidden to view behind hedges or other plantings. It is eight feet high in those places. In the front it is six feet, with a tension wire strung at seven feet and another a foot above, at eight. It’s not quite so ugly as I had feared, and at a distance, it’s almost invisible. In fact, we tied orange strips on the wire as a warning to the deer that the way in was no longer wide open (see above). After one week, there have been no break-ins by the beautiful marauders.