Deer Fence Types
So you’re wondering what types of fencing are best to keep out deer? That’s no surprise. The web is full of choices, some rational and some really bizarre. Taking the bizarre ones first, there are at least two species of odd deer fences with strong academic credentials that really work. I’m referring specifically to fences cantilevered outward at about 45 degrees and to pairs of fences separated by a few feet.
Please note that in this post we are dealing only with barrier deer fences rather than electric fences. That’s because the fairly strong electric fences needed to repel deer are not well suited to yard or garden settings, tending also to be unreliable and to require high maintenance.
Angled Deer Fences and Those with Two Parallel Rows of Fencing
There’s no reason to doubt that two different types of barrier fencing — cantilevered and doubled deer fence types — really work. In that case, why don’t we make them, and why shouldn’t you get them? The answer is really clear. Besides being high-maintenance (in the case of an angled fence) they are expensive. Supporting a fence cantilevered outward costs money, and so does building two short fences instead of one tall one. And in fact their money costs are so high (not astronomical but high) compared to vertical single fences as to make them uneconomic to pursue. So the rest of this page and our website deal with more or less normal fences
That reduces the available types of deer fence variations quite a lot. Specifically, it reduces them mainly to height variations and to variations in the kinds of fencing, posts, support wires, and bottom gear employed.
Different Types of Fencing and Fencing Materials
Starting with fencing materials, four main kinds are used today to fence out deer. These four are polypropylene, metal hexagrid, fixed knot, and welded wire fencing.
Polypropylene Deer Fencing
Black polypropylene with a mesh size of about 1.75 x 2 inches was the first really popular type of deer fencing. We are not referring to the weaker kinds of poly fencing sold cheaply — some like “Deer Block” being so weak that deer could literally walk through them. Rather, we are referring to poly deer fencing with a minimum breaking strength of at least 165 pounds per linear foot. this fencing was strong, hardly visible, affordable, and easy to install; and it came to have real popular appeal.
However, even this strong polypylene deer fencing had problems. Not only could charging deer break it, but so could does bashing it repeatedly with their noses — something they sometimes did when their established paths were interdicted. And so could woodchucks (ground hogs) and rabbits, which would chew small holes in it, holes that deer would later find and enlarge to penetrate the fence.
Metal Hex Deer Fencing
In response, the maker of this product came out with stronger and stronger poly fencing. This stronger fencing reduced the charging and bashing problems but did little to counter the woodchucks and rabbits. So deer fence installers developed an important deer fence supplement. this supplement, called a “rodent barrier,” consisted of a two or three-foot swath of metal hexagrid fencing (small-mesh chicken-wire galvanized and coated with black pvc), that could be added to the bottom portion of the fence.
That solved the small animal problem and also led to other things. One day a trouble-shooter for a major deer fence installer noticed something odd. He noticed that the polypropylene-metal hex combo was hardly more visible than the metal hex alone. So he decided to create a different type of fencing — a full-height metal hexagrid deer fence dispensing with the polypropylene altogether.
In our opinion, of the various different types of fencing, metal hexagrid fencing is the best deer fencing available today. Besides having low visibility it is much stronger than polypropylene deer fencing and lasts about twice as long. So it essentially ends both the small animal and the deer bashing issues. It is more expensive than polypropylene fencing. But since one needs to buy fence posts and other gear and also to install the fence, the substitution of metal hexagrid fencing for polypropylene is cost-effective.
Fixed Knot Fencing
Of course, as anyone browsing the web can see, these are not the only deer fence types around. Another type, “solid lock” or “fixed knot” fencing. has large openings (3 x 12 inches up to 7 x 12 inches) and employs heavy 12.5-gauge wire joined by odd wire knots (see photo) at the crossing points. This type of deer fencing appears affordable but has serious problems. Much more visible than the others, it evolved in cattle country, which is very flat, and was designed to go long distances without being stopped by gates, corners, grade changes, or other impediments. So it handles grade changes poorly. And if installed as intended (under tension) it must be heavily braced at corners, ends, gates, and grade changes with large and expensive braces. It can be installed without tension, but this makes it floppy. All of which tends to make its use for deer fencing in areas outside of flatlands (cattle country) problematic.
welded wire deer fencing
Welded Wire Fencing
This brings us to the last deer fence types covered here, those with welded wire fencing. Most kinds of welded wire fencing are stronger than metal hexagrid fencing. But they’re also more expensive, more visible, and (like their sturdier “fixed knot” cousins) poor at handling grade changes. As a result they’re generally used to control elk, where the extra strength may be needed, rather than to keep out deer.
More on Different Types of Fences: Other Variations
We don’t deal here with deer fence height, because that subject is covered elsewhere. So if you do not feel that 7 feet is a good height for your deer fence or would like more information, please see our blog post entitled Deer Fence Height.
Kinds of Deer Fence Posts
Regarding posts, there are many different kinds. Trees make the very best and cheapest posts, so if they are available along your fence line by all means use them. Some zig-zagging is not an issue and in fact helps the fence blend into the landscape. However, the trees should be healthy, at least 6 inches in diameter at the top of the fence, and with no branches that you are unwilling to remove up to that height on the side of the tree facing toward the deer.
Wooden posts (pressure-treated 4x4s or 5-6-inch rounds) are also used. They’re no more expensive than metal posts, but they’re much more visible, more cumbersome to heft about, and generally more expensive to install. So unless one is really devoted to them they should probably be avoided.
We do not carry studded steel T-posts, which work perfectly well. However, one sometimes has trouble finding the 9-foot length needed to support a 7-foot deer fence. We do offer angle-iron posts (at left in the photo above) made of very hard steel underneath a black powder-coat finish. These need a little maintenance, but are generally comparable to T-posts. We also carry round black steel posts with caps (at middle left in the photo). These posts are galvanized under their black powder-coat finish and will last the life of your fence. More expensive than the others, these plain but elegant posts provide good support for most deer fences. They also look well in residential and estate settings, blend well with the background, and compared to wooden posts are less visible and easier to install.
Speaking of installation, some customers like using drive sleeves. These long sleeves (at right in the photo above) can be driven into ground until only an inch or so remains above the soil. Then a long post can be inserted into the sleeve to complete the installation. This avoids the need to get up on a stool or stepladder to drive in long posts.
These sleeves work only with round posts. They require a drive cap, a heavy metal cap sold with our installation tools that fits into the top of the sleeve and prevents damage to the top of the sleeve when the sleeve is pounded into the ground with a hammer. The post-drive sleeve assembly is a bit more expensive than the posts alone, but those set on keeping both feet firmly on the ground tend to find the sleeves user-friendly and worth the price.
Deer Fences with Top Support Lines and Wires
Nylon monofilament line for specific deer fence types
This consideration of different types of fencing brings us to the support lines and wires used with deer fences not installed under high tension. The support wires (black metal tie-wires with a 13.5-gauge steel core, shown in the right-hand photo above) are suited to short and mid-length fences or ones that need to navigate curves. The lines (thick black nylon monofilament lines, see left-hand photo above) work better on very long straight fences. However none of these top supports are needed for poly deer fences less than about 500 feet long, unless the fence is likely to be struck by large falling tree branches, or unless the owner wishes to improve the straightness of the fence’s appearance at the top.
Tie wire is somewhat more expensive than the monofilament line, but it needs no special terminators or tighteners. One simply twists it around itself a few times at one anchor post, runs it down to the next anchor post no more than 80 feet away, cuts the wire, pulls it taut manually, and twists it around itself several times at the second anchor post.
In contrast, the nylon monofilament line needs special terminators and tighteners. It can be terminated and tightened conveniently with gripples and a gripple tool, but the tool is expensive. A less elegant but equally effective method is to use U-bolt cable clamps and a wrench to terminate the line and daisy-wheel tighteners and an inexpensive tightening tool to tighten it.
Those tempted to weave the line through the top of the fencing as the line or wire is being installed can probably get away with doing so–especially if the runs are short. However, this becomes time-consuming if the runs are long and produces a less than professional result. A better way is to first install the line or wire and then attach the fencing to it with hog-ring staples or nylon zip-lock ties, applying one staple or tie per foot of fence. The hog ring stapler is expensive, but if you have a long fence it can save a lot of time, something that anyone who has tried applying hundreds of zip-lock ties to a tall fence can appreciate.
Different Types of Fencing: Kinds of Deer Fence Bottoms
Many deer fences get finished at the bottom in ways that are problematic–either with high-tensile wire or with taut monofilament line. Such bottom wires or lines work fine where the ground is flat or rising; but where there’s a little dip they pass right over the dip, creating a space beneath the fence. And the deer, not wanting to go over the fence but under it, tend to nose along the bottom of the fence–sometimes finding that these bottom openings are relatively easy to exploit.
A better method, one proven out by many years of experience, is to fold 6 inches or so of your fencing outward toward the deer at the bottom and to stake this bottom fold down every 6 feet with a foot-long kinked galvanized ground stake (see photo above). It seems unlikely that this 6-foot spacing would be short enough to secure the fence against interested deer; but in fact it is unless the soil in very loose or sandy — and in that case one has the option of using longer rebar stakes with the same 6-foot spacing to firmly secure the fence bottom against the deer. Within this context, it’s worth noting that in 20+ years we have never heard of deer getting under a properly staked down bottom fold.