CHEAP and EASY Deer Fencing that actually WORKS!

Updated for you in April 2016, and again in June 2016 because I’m a meddling control-freak about my posts, and I think somethings I use the word “lovely” too often. Have a lovely day, folks.

Lovely white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) roam about our place in alarmingly high numbers. Wait. That was not strong enough. What I should have written is this: there are are too many stinkin’ deer around these here parts. There. That’s better.

Too–many—stinkin’—pretty—deer!

In the late fall, these lovely creatures are hunted for their meat. The meat is tasty and lean. It makes good sausage and jerky and steaks. The deer I see during hunting season seem to have a, well, a hunted and harried mien. They’re trying to get as much living as possible into their day, just in case it is their last.

However, during the spring and summer, I see them nearly every day on my early morning walks, and it’s a different story entirely.

You can tell that the they know that it’s not hunting season. They blithely bound about: to my orchard to nibble on baby peaches still on the trees, or through my garden, happily finishing off the beet greens and the sugar snap peas, or (alas!) among my lovely blueberry bushes, clipping off buds, branches, berries, all at one fell swoop of those efficient, sharp little teeth. Yep. They are completely different animals. They are not hurried in the slightest.

I do not regard them kindly at these times.

Awwww. Isn't she purdy?

Awwww. She is awfully pretty, isn’t she?

Deer are beautiful in their graceful bounding, their lean and lovely lines, their big expressive eyes and soft muzzles. The fawns are heart-meltingly sweet, with their dear little spots and huge Disney-esque eyes. I can see why so many people abhor the thought of shooting them.

deer fencing

Everybody loves spotted little Bambi.

They are also a royal pain in the you-know-what, if you try to grow anything that they like to snack on.Β  And that list is a long one: pine trees. Fruit trees. Garden veg. Berries. So many things.

Please indulge me as I share a tiny bit of deer-related backstory: when we first moved out to the country many years ago, we planted a small orchard right away–about a dozen trees: apples, plums, cherries, peaches, a little bit of everything. The little trees had a good start and they looked great going into our first winter. But. As soon as the young buds and leaves and new growth blossomed out in the spring, they would disappear. The trees would be stripped down to the older branches, overnight.

This is what we found was happening: As soon as the trees put out any kind of fresh new green growth, the deer would move in during the night and eat it all, every last bite. Most of our little trees died, for without leaves they couldn’t put on any new growth.

You are familiar, are you not, Gentle Reader, with photosynthesis? The next year was the same. And the next. The few trees that didn’t die outright just barely hung in there. Of course there were no dreams of fruit, there was just a raggedy effort to keep the trees alive.

What a crushing disappointment! We had moved to the country, in part, so we could grow as much as we liked, and the local deer were killing our orchard trees, one by blessed one. A fence tall enough to keep the deer out wasn’t a possibility–it would have to be at least 8 feet tall. We couldn’t afford a fence that big, nor did we want one.

such tender and beautiful buds!

Such tender and beautiful buds on our apricot tree: so attractive to the deer, too!

And even if we could have put up such a high fence, there was every chance that the deer would just leap right over it to get to the goodies inside. Doggone lickity-split bounding greedy deer-faces.

We were down, but we weren’t out. Did we despair? Well, yes, as a matter of fact, we did. Although we replaced the trees one by one, the new trees would get eaten, too.

But I wasn’t going to give up. Really good apples (ask anybody) are probably among my top five favorite foods. And the way to get lots of really good apples (ask anybody) is to raise your own.

So. We tried one thing after another to keep the deer from eating our tender young orchard trees: we put tomato cages around all our orchard trees, but it didn’t work, and it was ugly, to boot. We tried electric fencing, but our brome grass grew so fast that it would ground it, rendering it useless. We collected hair cuttings from our local beautician and scattered them around the perimeter of the little orchard, hoping that the scent of human would keep them at bay. We bought bottles of “Deer Away,” and sprayed it around the orchard.

Nothing worked. It baffled us.

home

Buds on the blueberry bushes are like candy to deer. πŸ™

And then. One day I was commiserating with another friend, a gardener and grower who takes her plantings pretty seriously, too.

She shared with me an incredibly easy and cheap solution to keep the deer out, and I went straight home and did exactly what she said and, Gentle Readers, it worked perfectly. The rest, as they say, was history!

I’ve done this one easy thing for years now, and I’m so amazed that it works so well, because it’s so, so easy. It takes just a few minutes to put up, and then a few minutes every now and then to maintain.

And. Gentle Reader: after several years of making and maintaining this one super-simple thing, I have bushels of apples every year, as well as peaches, plums, cherries. . . . and this year I also protected my blueberry bushes–which are loaded, as well–the same way.

Would you like to know what it is? Okay, I’ll stop teasing you. I’ll tell you.

Here is how you can protect your fruit trees or your berry bushes, or your vegetable garden, or your perennial beds, with very little money and very little time. This is all you need:

    1. a few stout t-posts
    2. a post driver
    3. a roll of sturdy fishing line, like this one here:

Or, if you have lots and lots of deer pressure, try this: it’s much stouter line:
If you have little ones running around, you may want to go with something more visible, like this:

That’s it! That’s all you need. You even may have these items in your garage or shed right now. I know we did. And this is what you’re going to do:

First, drive the t-posts at the corners of your orchard, or garden, or whatever you want to protect. Then take your fishing line and attach it to a t-post and start to pull a strand to the next post. Wrap it around the second post a few times and proceed to the third post. Again, wrap it tightly and proceed to the fourth and final post.

When you’ve made it completely around your orchard, wrap the fishing line around the post a few times and then start again, at another height, and repeat, until you have two or three strands of the fishing line now protecting your treasures.

Gosh, it's hard to take a picture of fishing line! But you can see here the two strands of line glinting in the sun, and the lush and healthy apple trees behind it.

Gosh, it’s hard to take a picture of fishing line! But you can see here the two strands of line glinting in the sun, and the lush and healthy apple trees behind it.Β Β 

A word about heights and safety matters: I think it would be ideal to put up three strands of fishing line as your deer fence: the first one about 10″ off the ground, and then the next two spaced fairly evenly on the t-post above it. We only keep two strands, though, omitting the lowest one, because we have a couple of dogs that regularly run under and get tangled in the lowest strand if we don’t keep it higher off the ground.Β  So if you don’t have this problem, for example if you only keep corgis or dachshunds, then by all means, add the lower line.

But! Keep in mind that this fence is practically invisible, so if you have short little people running around (as do I) then you may want to tie bits of rags or masking tape, or something quite visible so your tots don’t get tangled up in it.

Here's my orchard. Note how nearly-invisible the fence is.

Here’s my orchard. Note how nearly-invisible the fence is. This makes me happy.Β  I’m not fond of fences.

A word about mowing: Fishing line is actually fairly stretchy, and we’ve discovered that you can carefully ease under the bottom line (ours is about 3′ off the ground) with the mower, making mowing around and under the deer fence a snap.

Another important word about safety:Β  Since we do have a mobile little man who races about at break-neck speed, we (obviously) were careful not to string the practically-invisible fishing line at the level where it might catch him in the neck. There is only one place where our mowed path intersects with the fishing line fence, and we strung a strand of very visible white electric fence tape (not electrified, obviously) along with the strands of fishing line, to ensure that little Mack will be reminded of the fence.

Here you can see the fishing line protecting my blueberry bushes. Also, Bea, patrolling the perimeter.

Here you can see the fishing line protecting my blueberry bushes. Also our Aussie, Bea, patrolling the perimeter.

Why does it work? Gosh, I don’t know! We do have a hypothesis, however, about why this simple solution to deer fencing really seems to work, and it’s this:Β  we think the deer graze along in our grass, and when their sensitive muzzles brush against the (invisible) fishing line, it startles them, so they strike out in a different direction. If they really wanted to, I’m sure they could crawl under it, or leap over it, but since it is invisible, I don’t think they know what they’re up against!

I’m thinking about the movie Entrapment here, with the deer as Catherine Zeta Jones, working to slip under and between and around the invisible laser beams . . . I love that movie.

I keep my extra fishing line where I can grab it easily, tied to one of the t-posts in my deer fencing.

I keep my extra fishing line where I can grab it easily, tied to one of the t-posts in my deer fencing.

A word about maintenance:Β  Because deer can do so much damage through all the seasons, we keep our fishing line fences up all year ’round. But it is important to patrol them every couple weeks or so, because deer will run into them and break them, from time to time. If you keep fishing line out where it’s available to you at all times, it’s just a matter of a few minutes to replace any strands that get broken. This is also why we wind the line around each post, so if one strand gets broken, it stops there and doesn’t ruin the entire fence.

As for me, I walk daily past and around my berry bushes and orchard, on my way to the chicken coop, so it’s a simple matter to check the fences then.

All this makes me very happy. πŸ™‚

So there it is, Gentle Reader: a fence against the deer that is cheap and easy to put up, easy to maintain, practically invisible, and that actually works. Ta-daaa!

If you’re the sort who works hard to plant fruit trees or vegetable gardens or berry bushes, I know that you want to reap the rewards of the delightful rewards that can come from such efforts. If the deer move in and spoil it all, well, it goes without saying that they must be stopped.

So go–build your deer fence–and save your goodies that you work so hard for!

Thank you so much for stopping in today! If you found this information to be helpful to you, would you consider doing one, two, or three very simple things: and I will love you forever! Sign up for e-mail updates in the bitty box above, and ‘like’ my vomitingchicken.com Facebook page, we get into a lot of animated conversations there, really! Then you won’t miss a thing.

And if you would share this post with somebody who might also benefit from it, I’d really be indebted to you. Oh! And please leave me a comment if you tried this fishing line deer fence at your place, and how it worked. I’d love to hear from you.

So simple, really, to win my undying gratitude! πŸ™‚Β 

πŸ™‚ Thanks for reading in this space!

*hugs*

 

 

 

 

131 thoughts on “CHEAP and EASY Deer Fencing that actually WORKS!

  1. Luchie C.

    Oh wow – this is so ingenious of you. I can just imagine you walking about your property and taking pictures. For someone who lives in the tropics – my only encounters with deers are during my visits to the zoo (which are rare!). I’d probably be fascinated seeing them roaming around. I’ll have to take your word that there will be occasions when they begin to be a menace. πŸ˜‰

      1. dramamamafive Post author

        I’m aware that it doesn’t work everywhere, Wylie. I don’t think it would work in the mountains of Wyoming, either, where my little brother lives. The deer there are just too thick.

  2. Chef William

    Now here I am a bit lucky. In Mexico you are not likely to see any deer because the person that spots one, usually is enjoying it at dinner time. Deer season in Mexico is, see one, shot one. So far, we have been able to stay with the tried and true bobwire.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Chef,
      You are so funny. That sounds so sensible. Here we can’t even shoot a deer on our own property, unless it’s deer season. EVEN IF THEY ARE EATING EVERY LAST TREE off our place. Something wrong with that system, and pardon my yelling! πŸ˜‰

  3. Shawn

    We don’t have deer problems we have coon issues we think. Somebody who is low to the ground likes our peaches anyway. But nobody has bothered our limes. This is the first year for these so I’m excited.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Hmmmm . . . coons do like fruit . . . so do turkeys, though! Good luck keeping some of those peaches for yourselves, Shawn!

  4. Kathy Hadley

    Amy,

    What a very informative and helpful tip and even more so, what a great entertaining blog post. I’m happy your garden is secure with no harm to the dear deer. I also love the movie you referenced at the end. You are quite creative.

    Thank you very much for the information and the entertainment.

    πŸ™‚

    Kathy Hadley

  5. Gillie

    Our deer tend to stay in the woods, I see them around from time to time in the early morning or evenings, but mostly they keep themselves to themselves. My problem are pheasants. They come down from the woods and help themselves to my hen food and then wander around the garden helping themselves to my seedlings. Just wait until the autumn….

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Oh wow, Gillie, you must have quite a lot of pheasants there! I’m sure you anticipate pheasant season with relish! πŸ™‚

  6. Don Purdum

    When we lived in CT the deer at everything, so we stopped growing it. It was crazy. We have Corgi’s and one thing about them is they will keep the deer away, lol…

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Go Corgi!! The deer will kill any young growth around here, so I am so happy that we’ve found a solution! Thanks for your comment, Don!

  7. SunitaKurup Sapru (SuKu)

    Well here in our one bedroom apartment in London we really wouldn’t need a fence because all that we can grow is some herbs in pots πŸ™ .. but am sure this is a really helpful post for many of them… I loved the deer part πŸ™‚ :).. we have lot of deer stories in Indian Mythology :)..

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Thanks so much! No, I don’t suppose you worry much about deer in an apt in London . . . but thanks for your comment, just the same!

  8. Kristi

    Wow, what an easy idea! I used to feel sorry for deer during hunting season (although, venison stew is SOOOO good). And then I moved to Wyoming. Where they take strolls down main street in the middle of the morning and have been known to kill dogs during rutting season. Now, I keep hoping my husband takes up hunting and fills my freezer one day. (We no longer live in Wyoming, though, so.. sigh) Beautiful animals. So irritating at times.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      I’m waiting for my good husband to fill the freezer with deer, too. I’m thinking I might have to learn how to hunt, myself! πŸ™‚

  9. Vickie

    What a great idea! Thank you so much. We have been lucky so far – no real damage to our trees – but then they are surrounded by wire fencing. So ugly. I will have to try this trick on some of my vegetables first. If it works, then onto the orchard! Thanks again for this information!

  10. Sara

    Super. It’s that easy, huh? We don’t get deer in our urban backyard but I tried EVERYTHING back in the years I lived in B.C. The first one was so beautiful to watch. By the 10th one that week I was over it. I like eating my garden!!!!! (And deer for that matter!!)

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Sara,
      I’m with you. At first I was entranced by the deer, but after you see the damage they can do (I mean, really–there’s lots of great wild food out there for them!) then you don’t see them through the rose-coloured lenses any more! It really is that easy, too. πŸ™‚

  11. Carrie

    Hmmm… who’d of thought that simple fish line would work? We have plenty of that around, so I might have to give that a try if my “Irish Spring” soap doesn’t!

  12. Joe Griffin

    Sounds like a great idea and we are going to try it in our new woodland here in Ireland. Just one question, what thickness of fishing line did you use. There are so many different ones available.

    Thanks

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Hey Joe! Here’s what we did: we bought the middle-grade fishing line. The cheapest, lightest stuff will be frustrating to work with and will snap at the slightest breeze. The strongest stuff is pretty expensive. So we chose the mid-grade stuff and it has worked very well. Be sure to check your lines from time to time, because deer will run through them at times and you’ll need to re-string the lines! Let me know how it works for you!

        1. dramamamafive Post author

          I would like to hear back from you, Joe! Don’t forget to check those fences every now and then, and re-string them when necessary!

  13. Jennie

    This is a great idea! We moved to a place with LOTS of deer 1.5 years ago, and it’s been an adjustment. One question – would you put one fence around a few acres, or several smaller fences around specific spots? It’d be nice to exclude them entirely, but not sure how well that would work.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Jennie,
      How large is the area you’re talking about fencing? The problem with fencing a huge area is that the deer are bound to break those lines, and then it is going to take you so much more time to walk the fences and find the broken areas. I have several small areas fenced–my orchard, my berry patch, my garden–and it’s fairly easy to check each day to see if there are any lines broken. In any case, good luck and I hope you’re able to keep those freeloaders out!

  14. Tom

    I really like this tip. I am surprised something as simple as fishing line could be so effective πŸ™‚ Have you ever tried using a game camera to see exactly what those deer are doing when they get to your ‘fence’??

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Tom,
      Believe it or not, it really works! I’ve never used a game camera because I don’t own one. I’d like to know what the deer really do, though. I imagine that they stop their grazing, are startled and confused by the fence, and rush off in the other direction, making a mental note to not bother my place again. I hope.

  15. Shelly C

    The deer were really bad here last year and nothing would keep the rascals away: people hair, dog hair, sweaty clothes, deer repellent plants. They actually had a trail through the yard. We are building a 5′ fence around our 1 acre yard. The fishing line actually would be a great idea for back up deterrent. Thanks!

      1. Kay (A Ranch Mom)

        So, I put up three strands of heavy duty fishline. The next morning one was broken and there were deer hoofprints in my freshly tilled garden dirt.
        I re-tied the line, and smoothed out the prints. Next morning there were more tracks. (but no broken line)
        Guess these prairie deer are just starving enough they don’t care. That or they are smart. :/ bummed its not going to work for me.

        1. dramamamafive Post author

          Kay,
          Do you mean that the hoof prints were on the inside of the fence? Shoot! I’m bummed, too. You may consider adding another line, above the others, if possible. Maybe your fence just isn’t high enough?

          1. Kay (A Ranch Mom)

            Yes the tracks were well inside my fence. I had three strands, the highest was 5 ft. I don’t have higher posts. Oh well. Some you win, some you lose! πŸ™‚

  16. Kay (A Ranch Mom)

    Oh wow. I was just telling someone about my struggles with deer in my garden. They are SO frustrating!!! i have had my garden up beautifully and then in ONE NIGHT they come in and wipe it out. I can’t afford a fence, but I will try this. This I can do! πŸ™‚
    Thanks!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Kay, I hope it works for you! We’ve got fishing line fences around everything that we want the deer to leave alone. Last year they got into my primary veg garden (hopped over a 4′ garden fence) and ate my beets down to the dirt. Amazing! Just the beets, but they trampled everything else. This year we’ll have fishing line around that garden, too.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Kay, I think the highest line is right at my shoulders, which would be about 5′ high. The t-posts are 5 1/2 feet high, I think. The higher the better!

  17. Larry Kates

    I tried this last year, but couldn’t keep up with the broken lines. Admittedly, those bums have been freeloading on me for years, and i think that makes it harder to keep them out. I live near the woods, and am surrounded by vineyards which are all fenced, so my gardens are the only open buffet in town. I will probably just try again and try to be more vigilant. *sigh*

  18. Maggie Curtis

    Thank you for the great idea. Your article is the second time I have heard about the fishing line solution. I have an ugly dilapidated deer fence around my veggies but the deer have been enjoying the rest of my yard ever since my dogs passed away a few years ago. I think I will “test” a portion of my yard with the fishing line first and see if it works for me. If it does, I will take down the rusty old deer fence around my veggies! I have quite a few fawns and they eat everything. My raspberries were taken right down last year one day when I left ugly deer fence gate open. I am on Vancouver Island and there are a lot of deer here!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Maggie,
      Just be sure, when you first introduce the fishing line, to check it every morning, and replace strands as needed. Good thing it is so cheap! If your local deer are accustomed to having the run of the place, they’ll break a lot of line at first, before they get used to it, and start avoiding it instead. Good luck!

  19. Frank

    Thanks for you well written story and suggestion. We’re in SE Ohio and have a new farm started. We’ve planted blueberries, grapes and a mixed orchard as well (plus the kitchen garden). I found a YouTube video by an old gent who did the same thing but with a SINGLE line of 30# fish line at knee height wrapped around his garden. He claimed it’s worked for years. Showed the deer tracks around the line as proof. So, I tried it last year around new orchard saplings. It worked! I set game cameras at both ends of the new orchard to document success or failure and it worked well for about 8 months until the line broke and I got shots of baby deer bounding into the area, soon followed by mama and aunts nibbling at the peach leaves.

    So, I’m going to up the line count as you have on yours and leave the extra line hang out there as you suggested for easy quick fixes.

    My only issue will be mowing. I have a zero turn mower which we use to make quick work of all the ‘rows’ of berries and fruit trees. So, I will have to rig up some sort of simple door / gate to allow us in to mow.

    Thanks again for the deer ‘tale’ and I will explore your site more as I have time.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Frank,
      I’m glad this was helpful! You may not have to rig a gate: the line is quite stretchy and we find that if we just lift it up and streeetch it over the mower, we can mow inside the orchard with no problem. Good luck and blessings on your new farm! πŸ™‚

      1. Frank

        I’ll try squeezing under the line first and see how it goes.

        By the way, I forgot to mention an added ‘eerie’ effect of the fishing line fence which may also factor into the deer avoiding it.

        When the wind blows the fishing line, if stretched tight enough, sets up an audible harmonic tone.

        I happened to experience this one day while pruning. It kinda spooked me at first so I would imagine it would the deer as well.

        Imagine four lines creating various harmonics at the same time on a windy day.

        1. dramamamafive Post author

          Wow. Frank. I am speechless. Now I’m going to have to listen when I’m working in our orchard: and I’ll be mightily disappointed if I don’t hear music in the wind, too! (And the wind blows here in Nebraska nearly ALL THE TIME.) Thanks for your comment. Now I have something to really look forward to! πŸ™‚

          1. Frank

            Quick update, the fishing lines work so well that we’ve completely replaced all our rudimentary electric fencing with fishing lines. Orchard, blueberries, and vineyards are all surrounded by three levels of 30 lb fishing line. No signs of deer tracks inside anywhere.

            I do have a handful of Havahart remote sprinklers set in strategic locations just to back up the ‘invisible’ barrier.

            And the fore mentioned ‘harmonics’ play loud and clear on tight lines.

            Another back up is cinnamon. I used it to keep ants away from our bee hives but have learned sprinkles on vegetation keep it from tasting good to deer, rabbits and other furry friends. I use a cinnamon / black pepper mix (heaping tablespoons of each) in a gallon of water with a dollop of dish soap.

          2. dramamamafive Post author

            Frank,
            You are a valuable resource to me! Thanks for sharing these tips, and I’m really glad that the deer fence is working so well for you. Do you spray that solution (cinnamon/pepper) onto your plants with a sprayer? What kind is your favorite? Thanks again for sharing your hints. I’m currently on a search for some organic way to kill curly dock weed, besides digging it: any ideas? Do you have this awful stuff where you live?

          3. Frank

            Can’t say that I’ve seen that intimidating weed here, but for what it’s worth, weeds are my personal mission this year. I wasn’t as vigilant as I should’ve been last year so Iost ground to the green meanies.

            This year I’m putting the hammer down!

            As for natural / organics, kinda tough finding the knock out punch one gets from chemicals.

            I have tried the vinegar route and it did defoliate some weeds, but did nothing on the roots. Places where there are no other plants near at risk (like my gravel driveway) I did a heavy salt water concentration soaking them down to the roots. That worked..

            My strategy this year is kinda ‘zen’. Close your eyes and imagine a time lapse view of your garden or vineyard … See the fresh tilled soil planted, crops popping up…. Along with WEEDS. Now watch as the weeds flower and SEED.

            It may seem elementary, but I’m thinking if I can just catch the green meanies BEFORE they bloom / seed (hoe them under; yank them up; guilt them back into the ground) I can reduce this years generation(s) of weeds and maybe reduce next years numbers. Doing this year to year should make a noticeable difference in intensity of the green meanies.

            Of course, this is all zen theory. But it’s worth a shot.

          4. dramamamafive Post author

            Frank,
            Thank you so much. I appreciate your insights. I’m also on a war path with weeds this year. In fact, I’m planning to do a panel on my blog with some professional (or semi-pro) gardeners, all about weeds. I can’t wait to share that with my readers! I’m employing (not to get ahead of myself here) some passive smothering techniques this year in some particularly troublesome areas: laying out black mulching fabric or plastic, to kill the particularly bad ones. KEEP me posted, Frank! (Let me know how the guilting technique works!) πŸ˜‰

          5. Frank

            I look forward to the weed article. By the way, one year I did do the black garden fabric smother thing. Found something interesting about that… I ordered one brand of this fabric,, used it all up, then had to order a different brand due to the first was sold out.

            The first brand (sorry to say can’t recall the name) worked well enough. The second brand did not. In fact, while out of town for a business trip, weeds grew up under this second brand with such vigor that they toppled off a few of the bricks I had holding the fabric down on the edges. It looked like a big black pillow with green trim.

            I’ll try to find the two brands and relay to you. It could be I mistook some aspect in the second brand.

          6. dramamamafive Post author

            Great info, Frank! I have two options available at the moment (i.e. I wouldn’t have to buy anything new): some black plastic mulch that is fairly heavy, and some black fabric mulch that I bought at Sam’s which really seems to last and last. Ideas? Maybe I’ll use a bit of both and see how they both work.

          7. dramamamafive Post author

            Frank,
            I was reading through your old comments and I have a question for you:
            You wrote:
            “Another back up is cinnamon. I used it to keep ants away from our bee hives but have learned sprinkles on vegetation keep it from tasting good to deer, rabbits and other furry friends. I use a cinnamon / black pepper mix (heaping tablespoons of each) in a gallon of water with a dollop of dish soap.”
            Do you sprinkle the cinnamon/black pepper, or pour it? Do you use a sprayer? Eager me needs to know, because I’m trying to keep the bunnies and deer from eating my parsley and sweet potato leaves without actually erecting ANOTHER fence around my veg garden.Help me, Frank. *turning appealing eyes toward Frank*

          8. Frank

            Hi Amy.
            Some people use the spices in powder form. Others in liquid form. I prefer to make a mix in water to spray. I think it’s more economical. You don’t need much of a pepper or cayenne powder to send a message to critters. Add a few drops of Dawn as a binding agent. Dawn makes the solution stick to the leaves. Be sure to use ‘powder’ spices so it flows well through the sprayer. Hope this helps.

  20. Wendy

    We have used the clear fishing line around our 40 x 50 foot garden with good success. We have 7-8 foot posts and the top line is over my head. The problem with line at only 5 feet is that if there is enough clear space on outside and inside for takeoff and landing, and they figure it out, they might jump it.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Wendy . . . they might . . . but they might not. You might also consider (if they do figure it out) putting a second fence just a couple of feet outside the first one. It would be a lot of trouble, but I’d be amazed if a deer could figure that out . . .

  21. Michelle

    Thank you for this entertaining post. Although I first came across the idea on a YouTube video, it was nice reading your detailed account. We have had our fishing line deer fence up for over a month now, and at first, we thought we had foiled the deer’s mission to decimate our sweet potato bed. However, this morning, my spirits sunk when I saw fresh damage and hoof prints! What could have gone wrong, I wonder? We followed your instructions to the letter, and we didn’t even tie rags or anything to the line. Can you advise? Thanks!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Yikes, I can’t say, Michelle! Though my suspicion is that sweet potato leaves must be such a favorite to deer that they will just Find A Way. Last year, my sweet potatoes were decimated by deer, even though the plants were inside a stout wire garden fence! This summer, I laid deer netting on top of them while they were getting started, and it seemed to have deterred the deer. This stuff is great: http://vomitingchicken.com/quick-and-easy-fix-to-keep-peter-rabbit-from-eating-your-cabbages/ and deer cannot get through it. (Warning though, it is a pain to weed through.)

      1. Frank

        I have another disappointing experience to add on the fishing line front…

        It works, but… You need to have, in my opinion, THREE levels of the line up (ankle, belly, shoulder high). It needs to be tight (pretty tight). And you have to have neighbors who are good shots.

        Despite all of the above, I too succumbed to the deer this year. No major damage, but they made it through all four sections of our garden efforts (vineyard, orchard, blueberry hill, kitchen garden). And we too did add layers of deterrents once we saw our false sense of security breached. We did exactly the same with the netting. Deer attacked my wife’s beans and pea poles until we threw up some spare netting we had about. Did the same in the watermelon patch and cabbages. I also got a good deal on some of those stand alone Havahart Deer sprinklers you can fill and set out around the perimeter.

        Crows did more damage on blueberry hill than the deer did. Netting fixed that as well.

        As for the orchard, once they were inside, the deer nibbled on the apple trees but left the peaches, cherry and pear trees alone. Found that kinda interesting.

        1. dramamamafive Post author

          Frank,
          I am really interested about where you live, if you wouldn’t mind sharing that with me. I’m beginning to get the feeling that the fishing line fence works best where deer pressure is not so high. It sounds like you’ve got a lot of deer there. It sounds like Wyoming, where my brother lives, where the deer are just everywhere and are almost tame, they are so accustomed to living among people. Here in Nebraska the deer aren’t quite as bold, so the fishing line works well. I guess the trick is finding what works best in your area. I’ll add that to my deer fence post, and I do really appreciate your sharing your experience with me. Good luck!!

          1. Frank

            Hi Amy. Winter’s settling in so I have a moment to reply finally. We are in SE Ohio, right around Athens, Ohio. And yes, the deer are plentiful here. I’m not a big hunter (yet), but my neighbors are and they seem to get their fill every year and still the deer pressure is on. I think the deer hang out on my property because I’m the only one not shooting at them (yet). I’ve come to the conclusion the fishing line does indeed work, but you gotta check them every day or so and where the deer population is heavy additional deterrents are a must. I may have to take a shot at them to let them know the ‘truce’ is over…

          2. dramamamafive Post author

            I think that sounds like an excellent idea, Frank. I have some awesome recipes for venisen . . . . we don’t have enough property to be legally allowed to shoot deer on our property πŸ™ and I’m a bit jealous of those who do. Get one for me!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Thanks Ben. It has worked well for us here in Nebraska. I keep a fishing line fence around my orchard, and also around my cherished blueberry bushes. In fact last year I got lazy and didn’t put the line up around the blueberries and the deer came in one night and ate them enough that we didn’t get any berries last year! This year I’ve got it up and I check it often to make sure it’s intact! Next year’s blueberries on the line, after all!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      It works great here, Ben. And is practically invisible to those who care about big fences destroying the view . . . πŸ˜‰

      1. Max

        that’s great, Amy. Try going with the “Primos Easy Cam”. It works great for us outdoor enthusiasts and doesn’t make a much of dent in the wallet.

  22. Jeff Anthony

    How do you get in and out of the garden? I have a 300 x 300′ space and I’ll need to get equipment and such in and out. Did you make an entrance or ?

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Jeff,
      Fishing line is surprisingly stretchy! I just pull it up and slip underneath. We also mow around it, pulling it up and easing the mower underneath it, whenever we need to. It’s really not a problem. If you have littles running around, you may want to tie strips of cloth or something on the line, to remind them that it is there.

  23. Lynda Holliday

    Amy, I thank you from the bottom of my pear trees! You would think with a Great Pyrenees in the yard, who barks at everything and nothing, we would be deer free. But alas, that is not the case. Someone stripped the bark from one side of the pear trees, and someone ate our first peach crop last year. I will be using your method for sure. Thanks a bunch!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Oh, Lynda, get it up now, before it’s too late! This weekend would be good! And–I would love to hear more about your Great Pyrenees. I’ve always wanted one, myself, as a pet and a livestock guard dog.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Jeff, our posts are probably about 20′ apart or more. Wow, an acre—I’ve probably put up a few smaller areas, rather than one fence around the entire thing. That way if lines get broken, you don’t have such a project to replace them. We have two fences up–one around the orchard trees, and one around the blueberries. Remember that old proverb: “he loves best what he protects with fishing line” πŸ˜‰ and the orchard and blueberries, for us, are at the top of the list!

  24. Frank

    Hi Amy.
    Here’s an update to our heavy deer situation in SE Ohio…: fishing line and empty pie tins.

    Those two things seem to be keeping the deer away from our blueberries and orchard.

    Fishing line, as discussed does a good job, but is always ‘tested’ by the deer with eventual break ins.

    I kept thinking what would keep them from even approaching the fishing line. Then, in my quest for nice zen garden designs it dawned on me. Those bamboo ‘deer chasers’ one always sees in Japanese garden designs… With their simple clicking sound. The unnatural sound is what apparently spooks the deer.

    So, as I don’t have ready access to bamboo, I rigged up the Appalachian version of the same idea. Empty aluminum pie tins strung up on the corners of our fishing line fencing. We use t-posts so that metal on metal clang in the most gentle breeze startles even me at times.

    There’s been zero line breaks for over a year now and I still see herds of deer round and about our place. But none in our crop plots.

    Finally found that tipping point in this deer situation.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Frank,
      I am so grateful that you shared this with me! I have had a lot of breaks this year, so I’m going to add the empty pie tins to my set-up, too. BRILLIANT. I would guess that old CDs might do the same trick, but the pie plates would be noisier! In fact I’m going to update my post and add this suggestion, attributed to you, of course. Thank you again for sharing with me. I appreciate you!

      1. Frank

        You’re right Amy. It is the SOUND of the pie tins which is keeping them back. CDs only create a curiosity for them to come and investigate. But the metal on metal SOUNDS like human activity, which, when they can’t make out where it’s coming from, they choose flight instead of taking any chances. At least that’s what I’ve deduced by observation.

        I’m doing this a couple different ways: One way I’ve hung them up on the opposite corners of our orchard plot. The other way, I’ve hung a couple WITHIN the blueberry area (inside the fishing line fenced area), like near the middle of the area.

        I’m concerned that if they do figure out the sounds are coming from those twirling shiny things on the corners, they may lose their fear and come closer. So, I set the blueberry tins INSIDE the area and kinda lower (below the bush height) so they can’t see where the sound is coming from.

        Can you believe a grown man is sitting in the fields rationalizing all this about deer? Ha. I catch myself in my pondering this issue and chuckle at myself.

        But, the reality is we have a lot invested in our crops at this point and it’s a matter of protecting investment.

        I’m not a hunter. Really don’t want to shoot any of the deer until I’m hungry enough, or until I’ve exhausted all efforts to passively keep them out. Their lives hang on these pie tin fishing lines. If this doesn’t work out, we’ll be making sausages.

        Enjoy the Summer!
        Frank

  25. Tom Hoffman

    I gave this a try. The deer devour her hostas and daylillies. I put 4 strands of 30 Lb. monofilament around my wife’s flower garden. Starting at one foot off the ground and then every 12″ up to 4′.

    The next day I heard my wife yelling and ran to see two deer inside the fenced in area. I arrived in time to see them jump THROUGH the strands of monofilament apparently not even touching them. No strands were damaged. It is beyond me how an animal the size of a deer can jump through a 12 ” space.

    I may have to go with the 8′ mesh fencing.

  26. Pingback: Frank's Brilliant Update to Fishing-Line Deer Fencing - vomitingchicken.com

  27. Bill Fantin

    Hi,
    Our 18 acres of nursery stock is over run by deer. At the front of the property it’s more of landscape architecture . Rosa rougosa, hawthorne hedge, flame maple bushes and young hardwoods. The deer destroy everything. We started caging individual plants. With several hundred it became impossible. I’m beginning to try fishing line. But the lighter weight appears to work better. Several strands are more effective. They can’t see it to maneuver around or judge it to jump over. My mother inlaws picture works pretty well too!

  28. Jen

    Thank you for this post. For the 10,000th time, we walked past our lovely landscaping that should contain lovely blooms only to find deer had munched each and every one. The last thing we wanted to do was buy a heavy, ugly deer fence that would hide the color – what is the point?! We are going out today to get posts and fishing line!!!

  29. Dawn Rose

    Well what a good idea. I’ll give the fishing line a go. We’ve only just started getting deer in the garden but I need to stamp in on the head right now. Thanks from sunny Isle of Skye.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Dawn, you are welcome, and please report back–I’d love to hear how it works there! Now I’m going to google “Isle of Skye” to see where in the world you are!

  30. Mike

    I’d set up something similar using stainless steel picture wire. Worked great for a while. Then we noticed missing green tomatoes. Today I was out back with my grandson and found two fawns and a doe calmly munching away inside the enclosure. I frightened them away. The fawns leapt between the lower and middle wire and the doe jumped the high wire.
    We live in western Washington so these aren’t whitetail deer. But I will try adding fishing line. Sure is annoying.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Arggh! Check out my follow-up post, Mike, and actually I’m working on another one, a follow-up to the follow-up, involving a set-up that my brother Matt (the engineer in WY) set up for his wife’s garden. They have tremendous deer pressure (they live in the mountains) and this system really works. Stay tuned. . . !!

  31. Doug

    My guess is this didnt last…..not unless you have the dumbest deer in the world…..worked for about 3 days …and I had 3 strands……I had heard about this before I read this…..the only thing that truly keeps deer away from place you dont want them is a HIGH fence….period

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Doug, I am sorry that it didn’t work for you. Another option might be to add something noisy to the mix, like this:
      http://vomitingchicken.com/franks-brilliant-update-fishing-line-deer-fencing/
      Also, my brother who lives in WY set up sprinklers around his garden, with motion sensors on them, and it works great. The deer pressure there is WAAAY more intense than it is here in Nebraska. I’m working on a blog post about my brother’s set-up.

  32. Steve

    Just reading this blog now and I might be able to shed some light on why fishing line works for some and not for others. For the past six years I have been experimenting with fishing line, string lines, and wire lines to fence a large area of property in SE NY State that is under excessive pressure from on overpopulation of White-tailed Deer. I can say from experience and trail camera photos that a full-size adult White-tailed Deer can easily step through a 12” high opening in lower horizontal fence lines, and jump a fence that is 7’ tall.

    The most important aspects of a fishing line fence effectively deterring deer is the line size (diameter) and color, not the height or number of strands. Deer eyesight is different from human eyesight, and apparently deer can not see 30 lb clear fishing line (it is nearly invisible to the human eye at a distance, unless sunlight reflects off the line at an angle). Heavier line is useless (one reader replied that he used the strongest line available with no success) as deer are able to see it and easily step through the large vertical gaps in a two or three strand installation. Thinner line can easily break when a deer brushes up against the line, which it must do for the fishing line to work.

    Even an early version fence I constructed with 35 lb green fishing line spaced every 6” from the ground up to 36”, and then every 12” up to 8’ high, was easy for the deer to penetrate. They simply step on the 18” high line with their strong legs and the line flexes and they enter through the gap. The fishing line springs back with no damage, and the deer simply repeat the process on their way out.

    Deer approach the 30 lb clear fishing line and do know it is there until they encounter resistance from something they can not see. That spooks the deer, and deer will not attempt to jump something they can not see. Your fishing lines may only be 4-5 feet high, but as far as the deer knows it is 20’ high. Using colored or fluorescent fishing line totally defeats the purpose. Tying ribbons or anything to mark the fishing line totally defeats the purpose by showing the deer where the lines are. Stainless steel wire (or any wire) reflects light, including moonlight, and reveals the fence to an approaching deer, so they step through or jump over what they can see.

    If you have to highlight the fishing line for safety purposes, try running a string line or two a few feet in front of the fence, or use signage on the fence posts. People will see the string lines, and deer will see the string lines, slowing down if they are trotting or running and step through or under the string line and then encounter the invisible fishing line before they regain any speed. This will reduce incidents of breakage, but a deer being chased or spooked will jump the string and crash the fishing line they don’t see.

    That is the big negative of an invisible fishing line fence. There will always be breakage, as there will always be a new generation of deer every year, and an unsuspecting deer has to feel resistance from the lines it can not see before it will turn away.

  33. Mary Ann Bucklew

    My husband, when he was still alive, put wire around his garden, a low one around the bottom, one around the middle for little bigger animals and then one for the larger animals. Then he hung a little sign, “electric”. I told him I hoped the deer cold read.

  34. Jen

    First, your dog is super cute. Second, thank you so much for posting. I ran into this page last year and have spent the winter thinking about how I would protect my beloved peach trees and roses.

    The time has come…beautiful little buds have started to appear – a bit early but they’re there.

    I do have one question for you regarding this solution that has been plaguing me:

    Throughout the summer months, we are regularly visited by several hummingbirds. They zip through the back yard and past these trees hundreds of times a day. I am very worried they won’t “see” the invisible line and will hurt themselves, or worse…

    Do you have any experience with these swift little visitors? If so, do you find they are able to navigate the lines? I desperately want a way to protect my trees\shrubs without military-strength fencing or armed guards but refuse to put my hummingbirds at risk.

    Thanks in advance for your insight!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Jen,
      We have hummingbirds visit our place, too! I love them! In my experience, they don’t seem to have any problems navigating around the fishing line. I haven’t seen evidence of this, but I guess all I can offer is the fact that I’ve never seen ailing or dead hummers around the lines, and we have a lot of them on our property. My suggestion is to put them up, and then watch closely for a decrease in hummers. My awe for God’s design in these little creatures leads me to believe that they will be able to handle these lines. If you have any experiences to the contrary, please let me know! THank you!!

  35. David

    Thanks for writing/telling your experience with deer. I’m going on my lunch break literally in minutes to buy 30 lb fishing line. I live only 2 miles from Downtown Pittsburgh and still manage to get deer in my tiny 100ft X 50ft flower garden. Even in inner city they are a pest. I’ve tried everything πŸ™ I think this might work… Also, I’m going to hook some old chimes that I have in the basement to give an extra scare. Thanks again for this posting.

  36. Carol Derby

    OMG thanks so much for sharing. We live in the country in Oregon. Deer here deer there deer everywhere. They recently destroyed most of our raspberry bushes (it’s almost hunting season yay!) and our new baby Apple trees. Since we are now planting for fall harvest we’ve been checking out options. All scary expensive or gawd awfully ugly to look at. I hike our property and most can be seen by the country road, I can’t do ugly. THANK YOU for sharing this, just sent the hubby outside to put this up (we had all items on hand thank god for fisherman lol) and to set up the game cam to see the deer response to the fishing line fence. I will update with how it works. We have super small dogs (Chihuahuas) so we’ll be omitting the bottom layer. I cannot wait!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Carol, please let me know how it works out. Be forewarned that I have had a gentle reader (just one, I think) report back that it was not an effective foil against the deer pressure in his area. Our deer concentration here in NE is not as great as in some areas, I know. But good luck to you!

  37. Joan Brooks

    The fishing line is something we are going to try. Our problem is more unique than a garden and just deer. We have a hot tub we want to protect thinking maybe the deer AND Elk might be attracted by the smell of water, even tho it has a lid on it. I wonder if this would help with Elk. We live in the mountains in a desert area. We want something inexpensive to deter them both.

  38. Mia

    I had so hoped this would work but sadly it doesnt work at all in california πŸ™ the deer arent even phased by it they simply go through it, break it or jump it, no hesitation.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Ohhh I am so sorry, Mia! Since I wrote this post, I’ve learned that there are more areas of the world that are much more deer-stressed than our part of the state.

      1. Frank

        I think some deer somewhere got access to Google and figured out this psyops fishing line fence thing and has spread the word. What once psyched out the deer around here is now used as dental floss after ravaging gardens.

        1. dramamamafive Post author

          *ugh* Frank, if I can get my act together, I will write another post about this–I recently visited my brother MAtt in WY, and where we have deer problems here in NE, he has DEER PROBLEMS there in WY. He has developed an ingenious system (he is an engineer, a smarty-pants, AND the golden child in the family, for good reason) whereby he has foiled the deer in their area. And the deer are so bold, that they graze constantly –day and night–in the yards of the good folks there.

  39. Nathan

    Any advice on how to tie the fishing line to the poles? Fishing lines likes to not stay tied very easily so I’m wondering how to go about tying it to the poles. I tried a typical know used for tying lures when fishing, but seemed to not be the most ideal. Curious to hear how you do it.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Nathan, great question! I wind the fishing line around each post several times, and then loop it under and pull it tightly into a knot. It’s kind of messy-looking, but it doesn’t come loose. Good luck!!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Good luck! I would appreciate hearing back from you. It works like magic here in NE, but I’ve heard from others with more deer pressure that it’s not foolproof.

  40. Lloyd's Landscaping

    Hi there, Great tips by the way and thank you. I did have a
    question though. I’m hoping you can answer it for me since you seem to be
    pretty knowledgeable about gardening. What are some homemade herbicides that kill weeds without damaging the earth?
    If you had some insight I would greatly appreciate it.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Lloyd,
      GENERALLY I just pull or dig weeds. I’ve never actually used herbicides. I think the best dead weed is a pulled weed. We have tried vinegar (didn’t work) and boiling water (ditto), two safe-for-the-earth herbicides, without success. I’m going to posit this question to my gentle facebook readers. If you don’t follow vomitingchicken.com on Facebook, you may want to. πŸ™‚

  41. Dean

    I couldn’t believe your solution actually works for you. The deer in my neighborhood require sturdy welded wire fencing at least 9 feet high and the posts need to be pressure treated 4 x 4 spaced at most 7 feet apart. That’s the only thing that keeps the deer out, even though they still run full speed into the fencing at night on occasion. Tried all of the less extreme solutions… nothing worked.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Dean, I’m interested in where you live. I have found, since I wrote this post, that there are areas of the country where the deer pressure is so intense that this solution absolutely doesn’t work. It does work here in our part of Nebraska, for whatever reason. The deer might not be so big in numbers here. I’m sorry! Good luck!

  42. Sarah

    We are going to try this summer I think. We live in suburbia, but have deer and last year the one thing I tried to plant a squash plant never got far (I think it was bunnies and groundhogs) but we have Earthbox so the line around them might keep everything out. Maybe I don’t trust the little ground devils, but we will see. At least we can try. Thank you for such a cheap and practical solution…I hope.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Good luck, Sarah! One thing: the fishing line does take a little bit of maintenance. When the deer go through it, or the neighbor dog charges through it and breaks it, you’ll need to go back out and put a new strand up. If you don’t, the deer will be the first ones to discover your lapse!

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