It’s not the ribbons of flagging tape that are keeping the deer out. It’s the almost invisible black plastic netting that the ribbons are hanging from.
It works – so far. This is my second year using it. (See previous post about the deer fence.) I regretted taking it down last fall, as it had been getting entangled in the grass, and removing it damaged the netting. But I’m gradually enlarging the vegetable garden and wanted to reset the netting. I have yet to see how well it will survive the winter.
There are different kinds of netting you can buy. The most lightweight is sometimes referred to as bird netting, with 1/2″ openings. It is easy to throw over strawberries or blueberry bushes, and it catches in the twigs easily, keeping it in place and making it hard to remove! It is very hard to see. One of us got it tangled in a lawnmower wheel and it took half an hour to cut it out. You can get it at a garden centre. If you’re in the US you can order from Amazon. [Easy Gardener 6050 DeerBlock 7-by-100-Foot Netting]
The next level is what I bought at Lee Valley last year. It is a slightly heavier mesh, 7 feet high, with 7/8″ openings and reinforced margins top and bottom. (My 100-ft length didn’t go round the expanded garden this year, so I filled it in with some of the lighter-weight bird netting.) I pegged it down to the ground with twigs and it keeps the rabbits out, too. (I had a strange surprise, though, before pegging it down this year.)
This deer fence is not invincible. There are some tears in it that I need to fix. But we’ve seen a deer come up to it, and touch it with her nose, and go no further. My neighbour, who has come out on her porch to scare the deer away, has suggested attaching noisemakers to the fence.
Here’s an Amazon link (US only; they won’t ship this stuff to Canada) to a similar product: Easy Gardener LG400171 7-by-100-Foot Deer Barrier Fencing
Finally, there’s a much heavier gauge netting that I saw in a local hardware store. It was more expensive, but looks like it would last longer. It has 2 1/4 inch openings. If and when my current fence isn’t doing the job anymore, this is what I will get. Amazon link: Industrial Netting CXC90x100 Deer Net – 2.25 Inch Openings
The lightweight netting does not require strong posts. This year the garden was expanding, but I had no more of the aluminum posts that I put in last year, so I bought 8′ steel T-posts ($9 each) at the local farmers’ co-op store. They have pointed ends, but I would never be able to drive an 8′ post into the ground, so I cut one in half with a hacksaw, and pounded it 2 feet into the ground with a sledgehammer. (Thank you to my gardener grandfather from whom I’ve inherited all these tools!) After pulling the short post out, there was a T-shaped hole into which the tall post went in with just a bit of persuasion delivered from a stepladder. The rocks deep in the ground caused the post to be slightly askew, but that doesn’t really matter.
I’d love to hear from other gardeners about your experiences with animals in the garden – or with keeping them out.