Wildlife Fencing: How to Keep Animals Out of Your Garden

Learn how to keep animals out of your garden with wildlife fencing such as tree guards, bird netting and wire rabbit fencing.

| March 2012 Web

If you’ve ever felt frustrated by rabbits raiding your vegetables or birds snacking on your blueberry bushes, Landscaping for Privacy (Timber Press, 2011) by Marty Wingate provides solutions for keeping those pesky animals at bay. Landscaping for Privacy lists real-world examples on how to create successful private outdoor living spaces. This excerpt from Chapter 2, “Barriers: Effective Designs that Deter Invasion,” discusses how to keep animals out of your garden with different types of wildlife fencing. 

No garden can be devoid of living creatures, but for many gardeners, some creatures, such as deer, rabbits, raccoons, and other people’s dogs and cats, eat and trample plants or otherwise disrupt the garden. Unwanted wildlife and pet trespassers can be a constant headache—deer eating the roses, raccoons stripping the corn, or the cat next door using the flowerbed as a litter box. We do not want to hurt them, but we want them to stay out of our gardens.


When it comes to deer, everybody has a favorite remedy—from hanging bars of soap or bags of animal waste in the trees, to spraying leaves with smelly liquids (that must be reapplied continually), to using motion-activated sprinklers that soak the gardener as often as the deer. Restrictive plant lists may work for some, but many gardeners are tired of asking “Will deer eat it?” or trying to second-guess the animals’ likes and dislikes, which change from season to season. At the bottom of almost every list of plants that “deer won’t eat” is a caveat: “They will eat anything if they are sufficiently hungry.”

Motion-sensors that set off a sharp spray from the sprinkler can deter deer and other marauding animals—but you need to remember to turn off the sensor before you head outside to fetch the morning paper. Other gardeners find that they must move the sprinkler around the garden regularly, or else the deer become accustomed to where they will, and will not, get sprayed.

Barriers are the key to excluding deer from the garden. You can protect individual trees and shrubs, when young, by surrounding the plant with a wire cage. Loosely wrap woven wire fences around the trunks of young trees until the tree is established. As the tree grows, it can sustain some browsing damage, although deer will stand on their back feet to reach up into an apple tree and browse on fruit and leaves.

If you are protecting an entire orchard, consider using a fence barrier. A deer fence may not seem feasible—you might think it will be unattractive, that fencing the entire area is impossible, or that your yard will look like a prison. But many examples of successful deer fences in beautiful gardens exist to alleviate those fears.

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