The D.E.E.R. Fence

Finally! I get to garden. So ok, I could have gardened last weekend but some family members had to make a spur of the moment decision to move to North Carolina and I was familially obligated to see them before they became a vacation destination rather than the people I just get to see at Thanksgiving and other food holidays.

But this weekend, the shackles of life were removed and I. Got. To. Garden.

Actually, I got to till, weed, dig and build.   Not too much actual planting but by golly, I will be planting tomorrow.

First on the list of things to do.   Build a D.E.E.R. Fence.

Apparently, my little suburb of Cleveland (which does have a MetroPark but said MetroPark is miles from my home) has become the latest and trendiest place for all the local deer to move into.   The small park near my home has become where all the mommy deer take their little ones to catch a passing glimpse of the playing “baby” humans. Honest, they think it is a human wildlife preserve.   “Don’t worry dear,” they whisper to their wide eyed staring fawns as humans walk past, “they only look dangerous. These humans won’t hurt you.” And we don’t. We human walk by the herd that lays next to the park’s walking path EVERYDAY and either gawk like fools or curse that firing a gun is illegal inside city limits.

With all this deer tourist traffic, my garden has apparently found its way onto the deer version of the Berlitz travel guide and has become THE place to eat.   Over the past few months, my garden has been peppered with deer hoof prints – only “problem” is that the main course they are looking for in my garden has been taking a rain delay. So take that damn deer!

But now I do want to plant and I needed to let any and all deer know that my garden was now an exclusive eating establishment – mainly humans only. I have no problem being a speciest in this situation  And in order to accomplish that, I employed my favorite gardening tool — the spousal unit.

The spousal unit (and various offspring) spent the better part of two days erecting a 7 foot high chicken wire fence around my vegetable garden.

Why 7 foot? Because deer can jump 6 foot with no runup.   Yep, you read that right, from standing, they can make Michael Jordan look pathetic (and I would have said LeBron James but we already think he is pathetic, so what is the point).

Why did the spousal unit do this for me? Because he knows that if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy (or getting marital benefits).

So what does D.E.E.R stand for?

  • Deer
  • Elimination
  • Eradication or at least
  • Resistance

My husband is actually hoping that one jumps in but can’t jump out. Firing guns in city limits is illegal, but my husband owns a crossbow and that perfectly legal.

18 thoughts on “The D.E.E.R. Fence
  1. Amber on

    Yum, love deer. :) I agree with your husband, shoot that crossbow and save that delish meat!


  2. Careful with the “momma ain’t happy” leverage. Husband could develop an unreasonable hatred of deer and go off eradicating them in a 10 mile radius, enlisting the aid of other male-spouses who would band together for the brotherhood. Bigger wars than that have started over the problems associated with “momma ain’t happy”.


  3. Katherine on

    Hope your family that moved to NC is ready for some dry, dry, dry weather. We haven’t gotten any rain in a while. My garden is suffering. Still, I love living here. They picked a crazy time to move though. They may suffer shock from the heat! :)


  4. I haven’t seen any deer yet but I am super worried about it. We’re rural and they are about.


  5. Hannah,

    I had to laugh while reading this post, especially the “spousal unit” references and video re stringing tomatoes. But, directly related to deer. I have to note that when I moved into a new home in an unfinished sub-division in Olympia WA (my previous house), deer were frequent visitors to our block. Oh good! Here’s Bambi, I thought. Until Bambi started eating my roses – and I could always tell when they had been there by the nicely bitten off tips of the branches. Not to fret, rugosas are hardy things and can stand the deer….”let them have a bud or two”, I thought. “Just don’t let them go after my Japanese maple…or they were going to be venison!!” Fortunately, the rugosas were good decoy plants, for the deer never took so much as a nip from my Japanese maple.


  6. I agree that you need a tall fence! Our 6 ft is good – but not 100% preventative. I also rely on chemical and biological means aka smelly stuff!
    Teresa Marie


  7. Sara on

    Oh, deer. Shoot.

    We’re moving out to Cleveland Heights from the Pacific NW this summer and I’m eager to try gardening somewhere that actually has a summer. Supposedly people are able to grow peppers and tomatoes here, but it’s never worked well for me.

    What tips can you give me on what grows really well in the Cleveland area? Are there some things I shouldn’t even bother with b/c of pests or climate?


    Peggy Miller Reply:

    Hi Sara,

    I live just outside of Cleveland Heights. Welcome to the ‘hood!

    We do grow peppers and tomatoes here, very successfully most of the time. I’ve been successful with basil, celery, corn and squash as well. I’ve also got a variety of flowers (and weeds) growing in my backyard–daisies, roses, lilies, coleus, hostas, and dahlias. The plants that I take in in the winter are plants that need a moderate climate: rosemary, lemon grass, and laurel come to mind. It did take me a while to get a feel for what can winter over and what plants just lead to heart break. It’s been helpful for me to go to garden centers (not just hobo depot and Lowes) and talk to the staff there about my light and soil conditions.

    Good luck with the move!


    Sara Reply:

    Thanks for the info! Any good local gardening coops/centers to recommend?

    Rosemary is a conifer, and one of our hardiest perennials – I’m surprised to hear you take it indoors. Doesn’t make me hopeful…


  8. Hi Hanna,

    My gardening specialty happens to be deer resistant flower gardening and I live in North Carolina. Since 2005, I’ve been experimenting with my large deer herd and have minimal, if any, deer damage in the flower garden. My garden has it rough — full sun, dry summers, deer, rabbits, voles, and Japanese beetles!

    Enjoyed your deer story.
    Freda Cameron
    Defining Your Home, Garden & Travel blog


  9. We live near a cemetery in CA that we call “the wildlife refuge” because it houses a huge herd of deer and lots of raccoons too. Deer are truly amazing. The nursery near us will label plants “deer resistant” but not “deer proof” because when deer are hungry or thirsty they will literally go after anything, even cacti and succulents. Good luck with your fence!


  10. just saw a deer walking through the side-yard here @2pm! No kidding – it went to the cornfield and grazed at the edge where we didn’t weed-wack well…creepy to see him (antlers starting ~6″ so far) walking around mid-day. we only have 2 tomatos plants planted this year and they are OK right up next to the house – we shall see what the later year brings : ) good luck with your deer


  11. Hi,

    I am lucky I don’t have to deal with raccoons and deer.I have set up a fence that is only 3 feet tall to keep cats and dogs from entering my garden and ruining my plants.Lucky that dogs don’t like feasting on plants either 😀

    Adnan (Lahore-Zone 10)


  12. Here’s a cheaper version than 7ft – heard from a deer-pestered customer this spring that they’ve had success at 4ft plus a row of sharpened bamboo stakes set 1-2ft from the fence (on the inside). Theory is that the lack of a safe landing spot makes the jump impossible…?


  13. Nancy on

    Wish I could help you out. My husband and I have spent a large part of this autumn sitting in trees, hoping to fill our freezer with those tasty long-legged rats, with no luck so far. We know they’re there — they have square dances every night, about 2 a.m., on the corn piles we laboriously carried into the woods for them. But they never come into our garden, because our dog takes offense at all other 4-legged creatures. Have you considered a small dog, in a nice little doghouse in the middle of the garden?


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