No Thanks, Deer -Winter 2016

by: Hilary Newell

Depending on what you think about white-tailed deer and their place on the island, they are either a force to be reckoned with, or their presence is to be embraced.

Regardless of your position in this debate, the fact remains that they are here, and they will eat plants in your yard. They will eat tender, young, thriving shoots, or buds that are just about to open to their full glory. Or entire shrubs. We have no choice but to coexist with these creatures. A little education and consistent vigilance go a very long way in keeping deer-browse damage at bay, but deterring deer is a four-season job, and if you are serious about having a flower or vegetable garden, the effort is worth it.

The most foolproof method for keeping deer out of your plants is to install a fence. Opinions vary, but it is widely accepted that most white-tail deer can’t jump eight feet in the air, and so an eight-foot fence is high enough to keep them out. Aesthetics vary from person to person, and while permits are required for permanent fences here on Nantucket, off-island readers will have fewer restrictions in choosing materials. There are pros and cons to so-called invisible fences, wire fences, wooden fences and plastic fencing. There is no “onesize-fits-all” solution, but there are good resources to find out what works best in your area. Your state extension agent will be very knowledgeable, and fencing companies like Wellscroft Fence Systems have multiple solutions that will work with your budget. You could also consider a thickly-planted shrub hedge combined with fencing or invisible netting.

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