By far the most common question we get about gardening from nearly every corner of America is “How to you keep deer away from your plants?!?”

We usually answer “Coyotes….and lots of ‘em.” For the most part, we don’t have many issues with deer. Our gardens are surrounded by acres of open pastureland which leave deer especially vulnerable to predators like coyotes and hyper-vigilant llamas. But after recently planting 37 new young fruit saplings, or “whips,” we finally found a meal irresistible enough for deer to risk their lives. Within the first two weeks of planting we found that the whip tips had been grazed to nubs, right under our noses. Our coyotes, it turns out, aren’t as brave as the deer.

Like all of our projects at Beekman 1802 we thoroughly researched the best method to keep deer hungry. From our conversations with all of you, we knew that most of the easy remedies are either useless or short-lived. Deer are bright students, and quickly learn to outwit or ignore methods like mylar scare tape, motion activated sprinklers, and Irish Spring slivers suspended in old nylons.

It became apparent that if we can’t imprison the deer, we would have to imprison the trees. We found that there are many flimsy and inexpensive deer fencing options out there. But if there’s anything we hate more than doing a big chore, it’s doing a big chore twice. So we asked for recommendations from our most experienced gardening expert friends, and wound up merging their advice to construct our sturdy tree cages, which should last the three or four years necessary until the trees are large enough to keep some buds out of deers reach. Hopefully our coyotes will have grown more courageous by then as well.

Materials Needed:
• Protective gloves, eyewear & ear protection
• 3 5-foot steel posts (not plastic) per sapling
• Post Driver
• 9 foot length of twine, tied in circle
• Measuring tape (min. 10 foot)
• 5 Foot high welded-wire fencing, 2″ X 4″ holes. [10 foot length per sapling)
• Heavy gauge wire cutter

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  • By: Paulette Strandberg

    Oh my goodness. I laughed and laughed when I read that you think the deer will leave your fruit trees alone when they get older. Please prepare yourselves for that NOT to happen. I lost two seasons of fruit before I finally just put up a fence ALL around my trees. Be forewarned.

  • By: denise

    mulch shouldn’t touch the bark on the tree trunk…create a “well” with the mulch around the base of the tree–but not touching the bark–to collect rainwater.

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