A deer-proof garden in Montana
Situated in a mixed conifer forest near Missoula, Montana, Mike and Joyce Nave’s property includes the prolific raised-bed garden shown at left. Two features set this garden apart: a garden shed with a design that echoes that of the Naves’ house, and a fence that shuts out ravenous local deer.
Designed by the Naves’ son Jim, the 8- by 10-foot shed with a corrugated tin roof provides a place for potting and tool storage.
The 8-foot-tall fence makes gardening possible: Without it, the deer would eat everything. Because the garden plot is so large (1,600 square feet), solid fencing would have been quite expensive and would have blocked views of the surrounding forest.
To avoid both problems, the Naves chose a wire-mesh fence. The 2- by 4-inch mesh of 11-gauge wire (called horse fencing) is supported every 10 feet by pressure-treated 4-by-4 posts anchored in concrete; 10-foot-long 2-by-4s provide horizontal reinforcement 4 feet above the ground and also cap the fence. The total cost to fence the 40- by 40-foot plot was about $1,000.
The Naves grow annual flowers and salad crops in the raised beds, feeding them with liquid fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season and adding chicken manure once a year when they turn the soil.