How to protect your garden from deer

A wire-mesh fence at least 8 feet high is the surest way to keep deer out of your garden. To make a lower fence more effective, stretch a single wire above it, 7 to 8 feet off the ground deer hate to jump under things. Hang rags on the wire to make it visible.

And because deer fear strong odors, soak the rags in kerosene.

Other odors, especially the smell of human beings, repel deer too. Try hanging small mesh bags of mothballs or of human hair. Or dump your cat’s litter box just outside the garden fence. Commercial repellents are also available; they must be renewed often and should not be used on food crops.

If electric fences are legal in your community (check with the local authorities), they can be quite effective. Kits, available from many garden supply centers, include wire, insulators, and a charger that can be powered by a 12-volt battery or by household current. One hot wire is all you should need with a 4- to 5-foot mesh fence. For best results, add outriggers to the fenceposts so that the hot wire is a little higher than the top of the fence and about 3 feet out from it-deer hate broad jumping too. To prevent the wire from shorting out, keep weeds and brush cut back.

Protect fruit trees and ornamentals from winter damage by ringing each with wire mesh. Or fence the entire area and let your dog run there. (Hungry deer will soon learn the limits of a tethered dog’s line.) If heavy damage continues, report it to the state wildlife agency. It may indicate a population crisis among deer.