Building a Deer Fence
Hand-driving steel posts for a 7-foot deer fence in rocky hardpan isn't as much fun as it sounds. Nevertheless, it was either build that fence or let the deer eat our flowers, just as they've eaten almost all things green on our land for the last 20 years or so. A herd of about a dozen mule deer call this place home; they sleep beneath the pines, mate in the gardens, winter on the lawn, and bear their fawns near the brambles along the fence lines. Then the mamas show their babies where to find the prettiest and most delicious flowers. This has gone on for generations, and they show no sign of slowing down, moving on, or suppressing their appetite for flowers. In the beginning, we tried growing "deer resistant" flowers, but evidently the deer haven't read the articles and lists of the plants they're supposed to dislike. Consequently, they like almost everything, and they show their affection by gnawing the petals to the stems. Therefore, no fence, no flowers. So we built the fence. Some details:
Fence posts: 1.625-inch x 7-foot black metal. These are spaced 7-10 feet apart (depending on the location of access gates) and slipped over galvanized 1.3125-inch x 66-inch sleeves driven approximately 2 feet into the ground—the reasonable, maximum depth before striking stones too large to dislodge.
Brace pipes: 1.375-inch x 9-foot black metal. All corner- and gate-posts are braced from their tops to the bottoms of adjacent posts.
Tension cable: 8 gauge black nylon monofilament. This runs top, middle, and bottom of the posts for the length of the fence, and the fencing is fastened to it.
Fencing: 7.5-feet, PVC-coated, 20-gauge, black steel mesh.
Gates: Five 48-inch x 78-inch access gates and one 60-inch x 78-inch access gate. Made from 1.375-inch, 17-gauge black metal.
Color: With the exception of some hot-dipped galvanized nuts and bolts, all visible fence parts are black because we wanted an unobtrusive fence that would blend into its background
Cost: Approximately $13 per running foot. This was all for material, approximately 1,500 pounds of it; we did all the labor.
Yes, we know that some people have built serviceable, inexpensive deer fences using scrap pipe, fishing line, and shower curtains, but we decided not to risk the chance of such a fence failing. Besides, we didn't want to offend the deer's, not to mention the neighbors', aesthetic sensibilities.