Oh Deer; Protection for an Edible Garden

Dining out…that phrase has different connotations depending on your point of view. If you are an edible garden enthusiast, your perspective may still be influenced by whether you have two legs or four.

If you plant an edible landscape in deer country, it goes without saying that you have to consider how the plants should be protected from the beautiful but voracious hoofed-marauders that can decimate a garden in one night.

Deer fence with landscape

Custom designed deer fencing compliments the other landscape elements in this hillside garden. Photo; Joy Albright-Souza


Protective fencing for kitchen gardens has a long and varied history but one of my favorite solutions came about several years ago when I was creating a design for a family of enthusiastic gardeners who have a rural, hillside property. The practical deer fencing, of the existing vegetable garden, had a whimsical appeal but it was centered in the window of the formal dining room of their gracious home. That particular spot really was the best location for vegetables and it wasn’t practical to fence the entire property….but I knew we had to make a better focal point.

Deer fence before

Before; a practical and whimsical veg garden, sits in center-view of the kitchen and dining room windows.


deer fence after

After; new raised beds are enclosed with a view-worthy, deer-proof arbor, enhancing the garden from every angle. Photo; Joy Albright-Souza


The solution I recommended was to repeat the proportions and style of the existing arbor that shaded the deck and outdoor dining area. The idea was to create a complimentary arbor, for the edibles  that would look like it belonged with the rest of the landscape.


deer fence raised bed

Arbor sides appear open from a distance but keep edibles safe inside with wire grid. Photo; Joy Albright-Souza


The edibles would be seamlessly protected by enclosing the sides of the new arbor with wired grid that would disappear from a distance. The new garden would get enough sun by keeping the “ceiling” open but adding trellis tops to the sides, which would further discourage the deer from jumping inside by adding depth to the necessary height.


deer fence for rose

Roses no longer need to be protected  by a tight cage of wire – now they live a life of leisure inside the deer-proof arbor. Photo; Joy Albright-Souza


The deer-arbor would have new raised beds for the annual vegetables and an additional section, nearest the house, that would be a permanent home for the roses and bougainvillea that the client loves so much, but that had been living their lives in wire-barrel prisons for protection. This allows for the maximum enjoyment of the vulnerable perennials, keeping them safe, while freeing up the rest of the large property to be landscaped with deer-resistant species.


heart stepstones

Details; heart-shaped slate step stones were the clients idea…they express how she feels about her new garden. Photo; Joy Albright-Souza


The garden owners now have a beautiful view while enjoying their roses and tomatoes…and the arbor –like garden fence keeps the deer permanently “dining out”.


deer fence for water-wise garden

In California, grouping a kitchen garden with other “tempting” blossoms is a smart move, allowing the efficient irrigation of heavy water users, while freeing up the majority of the landscape for water-wise, deer-resistant plants. Photo; Joy Albright-Souza


harvest from fenced garden

Organic harvest ready for dinner, now that the adjacent garden has an arbor that matches the one the humans use for their outdoor dining area. Photo; Joy Albright-Souza

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Categories: Enjoying the Garden, Things to Eat


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3 Comments on “Oh Deer; Protection for an Edible Garden”

  1. May 6, 2014 at 4:20 pm #

    That is one gorgeous deer fence! The structure is art itself.

  2. May 7, 2014 at 10:38 am #

    This is so beautiful!


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