Many new native plants need protected for the first few years from deer and/or rabbits. We have found the easiest and least expensive way to do this is:
Purchase 4' round steel electric fence posts (pictured here--polydactyl black kitty not included :-). Menards and TSC usually have these in stock for around $2 each. We offer for $2.50.
Step them into the ground to the top of the anchor plate (see boot photo).
Cut chicken wire into 3-4 foot sections - enough to give your plant room to expand. Don't crimp the edges together yet.
Weave the chicken wire onto the cage - no need for fasteners.
Pull the cage closed around your new plant.
Crimp the edges together in 2-3 places, if needed. Most often, the cage stays closed on its own from "memory." Deer and rabbits have very sensitive noses and will not nose into the cage, even if not crimped as long as it closes completely.
As your plant grows taller, you can shimmy the cage up the post to cover the top of the plant. Deer will not stoop down to get under the cage, but they will put their heads down into the cage to nibble if it's low enough or the plant protrudes out the top.
Watch for heaving in winter as the ground freezes and thaws and step the post back in as necessary.
Chicken wire might seem like a random item to offer, but everyone kept trying to purchase the chicken wire we purchased for our plants last year, so we decided to offer for people purchasing plants. Fortunately, we purchased the chicken wire before recent price increases - compare and save!
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