Using brush & limbs to build a "fence" in woods? - Homesteading Today
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  #1  
Old 01/14/12, 11:11 AM
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Western North Carolina
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Using brush & limbs to build a "fence" in woods?

We want to build a hiking and bike path all around our property which would go through deep woods. We are not going to cut down any large trees, we will make the path wind and circle around to go around larger trees, but we were going to cut small trees and brush.

But - it will be impossible to haul the brush and limbs out from deep woods. Since we are planning this around near the property lines, has anyone used brush and limbs to stack up and just build a type of "brush pile" that makes a border along the property lines?

Once when we traveled to Ireland, we saw where they had stacked brush in piles to make a "fence" in pastures but those had fresh green new plants also growing out of it. Would it work to do this in woods where it would just stay in place?

Or - is this just making a mess? Thanks for ideas.

PS: I saw the other thread where someone said they use fence posts and put up fencing attached to trees and boulders. But - we do not want to fence it in nor do we have the money for fencing.

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  #2  
Old 01/14/12, 11:54 AM
 
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When we cut trails through our woods, we cut the leafy part off of the limbs and used the limbs as a border to the pathway. Sometimes we laid them on the ground and others were woven between trees. Most were swept away by one of the severe rain storms that we had (a few years ago) and are now somewhere down stream.

I guess I should mention that a lot of our trails ran alongside our dry creek. If the trails were just in the woods the limbs would probably still be there.

If you wanted to "form" a fence, you could tie the limbs together so they would stay put better.

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  #3  
Old 01/14/12, 12:11 PM
 
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back in the day that is how fences/hedgerows were created. as a plus it provides habitat for various small animals like rabbits & songbirds. if you plant black berries along it ti will become a natural barbed wire to keep trespassers out.

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  #4  
Old 01/14/12, 12:18 PM
 
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Would this fence have a purpose? Personally I would rather make large piles to provide "rabbitat".

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  #5  
Old 01/14/12, 12:43 PM
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You can use brush to build a barrier, but it will only be there a couple of years before it decays.

I used to do it a lot when clearing shooting lanes for deer hunting.
I'd weave the cuttings between trees to funnel the deer where I wanted them

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  #6  
Old 01/14/12, 02:03 PM
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We've cut more than a mile of trails on our 40 acres. The last thing I wanted to do was haul the brush hither-and-yon. That would have doubled our work effort. All we did was - in Tiknal's words - make "rabbitat" (ie, brush piles) about every 100 feet along the trails. Now when we take our walks, we will find fallen limbs and branches on the trails. We just pick them up and carry them to the next brush pile.

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  #7  
Old 01/14/12, 02:58 PM
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This works and it can be very effective at keeping livestock in, especially if you add a hot wire. A fence energizer is not very expensive and the wire is cheap. With a physical and visual barrier provided by the limbs or a stone wall and a hot wire to act as a psychological barrier it becomes a very strong fence.

We have sections of our pastures that are simply low stone walls with a single hot wire and we have other areas that are a couple of hot wires with brush on the outside and both of these are good fences.

The key is to make it easy to stay in where the animals should stay. Keep good things in with them and keep scary things out.

The brush piles make great habitat for small wildlife as Cabin Fever notes. Another thing is that by leaving the brush in the woods you're leaving the nutrients there to go back into the soil which gradually helps to build your soil. This is good.

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  #8  
Old 01/14/12, 02:59 PM
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There was an article in Mother Earth News several years ago about building a fence from brush. It apparently held up very well. I can't find the article, but as I remember, you drove in a fence post, then laid a tree limb at an angle with the branches resting on the ground and the limb tied to the fence post. From then on, you just laid the branches in with the :trunk" upwards resting into the branches of the previous branch. It held itself together this way. Wish I could draw something here to explain it better.

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  #9  
Old 01/14/12, 03:25 PM
 
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it holds up better if you have plants that help hold it together like blackberry, honeysuckle, wild grape and so on.

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  #10  
Old 01/14/12, 04:28 PM
 
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Location: Western North Carolina
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After I posted the question here, my son and I looked up the topic online. Below is the collection of sites we found so far. I thought maybe someone else might be reading this thread and could use the links.

We do not need to keep animals in and most of the Trails will be steep and in deep woods. The purpose would be two - like Cabin Fever said we don't want to have to haul all that brush out of the woods (and I like the idea of the brush piles for animal habitat) and the other is to mark the trails so guests stay in the trails and we don't have to go on a search after dark!

Here is what we found:

Casey -
Below are ideas about how to "fence" along your Bike Trail and how to make property trails with FREE materials.

In many areas and throughout history, folks have built Fences and marked property lines using free and easy materials available to them = Sticks and brush found and created as the result of clearing along property lines. Take a look:

http://www.countrysidemag.com/issues...-building.html

http://riverrest.net/wp-content/uplo...2/weaving3.jpg

MY FAVORITE IS THE ONE ABOVE!!!!!! Great idea!

http://www.drought-smart-plants.com/...#axzz1jS8FUH00

The one above does not have much but look down to the bottom and there is one photo of a small twig fence.

http://orkoskey.com/2011/12/06/wattle-fence/

BEAUTIFUL fence section but not practical for around the Property but some sections could be woven nicely where you want a sitting spot?

http://www.alaskabg.org/Education-Le...attleFence.pdf

THIS link above shows the Wattle Fence marking along a TRAIL! Take a look at it. Again, it would not be practical around the whole property but in sections it would be lovely.

http://nourishingwords.net/2010/06/0...-wattle-fence/

The fence shown in the link above is just a short one near a garden bed. But, you could try the same idea with a taller section along a trail?


GOOD video - let it load - She uses STICKS where she cleared. And she shows you mistakes and how she CHANGED her pattern of Weaving the sticks and also how to set the stick posts. She packs the sticks down to make the weave tight.

http://www.allotmentforestry.com/fact/rwattle.htm

Here is article with printed directions but no photos. But, it does give directions.

http://allanshepherd.wordpress.com/2...d-dead-hedges/

Photo of short section of fence using sticks.


** Some "wattle" type Hedges are also called "Dead Hedges" since, of course, they are dead! Sticks and limbs and brush are used (like we saw in Ireland) to make a property border.

http://www.stockportgreenspace.org.uk/dead_hedging.htm

The short article above shows a "DEEP Dead hedge" which would be laying down thicker pieces of limbs and then just piling the brush on top of it like a sandwich. OR the "woven" type which stands it up taller.

http://burgessfoodproject.posterous.com/

The Burgess site, above, shows how they built a messy dead hedge. Look beside the first photo and click and see three views of it.

http://phm2009.picturepush.com/album...ead-hedge.html

http://phm2009.picturepush.com/album...detail/2847947

OH OH OH! Look at the picture above! THAT is a good dead hedge fence!!!! Click on the little arrows at the top of the photos. I was able to see about six photos. GOOD IDEAS! Again, it would not be practical for around the whole property, but in sections, this would be awesome! I think I see wire support in between the stand up stick posts?

http://www.hcv.hampshire.org.uk/hcvjobs/hcvhedge.htm

Another photo with a dead hedge fence.
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  #11  
Old 01/14/12, 04:52 PM
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Something we've been playing a little with is braiding trees. They're quite pretty and produce an interesting fence. Not really practical for large amounts of fencing but kind of fun.

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  #12  
Old 01/14/12, 06:06 PM
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One of the Victorian Farm segments showed how they made hedgerow fences. They take a few years to get really established, but if you use what's already growing there and shape it/add to it, I'm sure you'll have some really nice borders.

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  #13  
Old 01/14/12, 06:11 PM
 
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I like the hedgerow fences that are alive too but in the areas where we want to build the Trails that would not work. It is deep forest for the most part and large trees all around. There is underbrush and broken trees down to clean up and then just make the paths.

It will be a huge job!

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  #14  
Old 01/14/12, 07:26 PM
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Osage Orange hedges are the living hedges that were of old time. Nothing bigger than a rabbit can get through them if you trim them to hedges. They grow here in KY as very large trees, with the super big lime green balls that can crack a windshield when they fall. They have super large spikes on the branches.

I got a couple half buckets of seed balls, covered them with water in the buckets, and left them for the winter in the barn. In the spring, I dug a trench and poured in the slurry. And I have many trees there now, about 15 feet tall. (I did not keep trimmed to hedges) They grew pretty fast.

These are the big green balls that keep bugs out of your house. They are sold online too. The trees are hard to find around here anymore, but Osage and wild bramble berries make great fences. Only thing I don't like about the brambles is the Japanese Beetles flock to them. Oh, and Florabunda, the wild white rose, is a great fence, grows like crazy and so pretty.

Your project sounds like a lot of fun.

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  #15  
Old 01/14/12, 07:47 PM
Brenda Groth
 
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last summer when I was working in my woods I had thrown a few down branches in an area..then I found more and more, finally I put them in a line and kept them near where I was working..farther and farther into the woods..not quite on our property line but near it.

I ended up piling it up about 100 ' long near the property line.

It isn't as high as a fence..but would discourage anyone from walking through, but an animal could likely jump it fairly easily.

Every year we have downed branches and I am in the opinion that it is good to leave brushpiles for birds and animals to live in..and yes..eventually the protected seedlinigs that sprout from seeds blown into the brush will grow up into trees and the rotting wood and materials will feed them and make lovely hedges..or you can even throw in some seeds or nuts or cones of things you would like to grow there..

Logs, brush etc..is the desired place for a baby tree or shrub to grow.

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  #16  
Old 01/14/12, 09:15 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cindy in KY View Post
Osage Orange hedges are the living hedges that were of old time. Nothing bigger than a rabbit can get through them if you trim them to hedges. They grow here in KY as very large trees, with the super big lime green balls that can crack a windshield when they fall. They have super large spikes on the branches.

I got a couple half buckets of seed balls, covered them with water in the buckets, and left them for the winter in the barn. In the spring, I dug a trench and poured in the slurry. And I have many trees there now, about 15 feet tall. (I did not keep trimmed to hedges) They grew pretty fast.

These are the big green balls that keep bugs out of your house. They are sold online too. The trees are hard to find around here anymore, but Osage and wild bramble berries make great fences. Only thing I don't like about the brambles is the Japanese Beetles flock to them. Oh, and Florabunda, the wild white rose, is a great fence, grows like crazy and so pretty.

Your project sounds like a lot of fun.
sounds like a good place for the poultry to forage
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  #17  
Old 01/15/12, 01:25 AM
 
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My ma said that when she was a little girl they did this to keep wild sows in after they farrowed.

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  #18  
Old 01/15/12, 08:48 AM
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
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I will have to read up more about the Osage Orange plant. That sounds interesting.

I would not want to use the wild roses since around here, they can be destructive and are listed as invasive species. They get all in our trees and make a mess. And they are almost impossible to get rid of. But...they are pretty when in bloom.

ronbre - your project sounds like what we have done in one section already. It is not very high but does mark the trails. I think the boys are going to try and stand some of the sticks upright and stack in between them to "fence" it sorta. They won't be able to do this around the whole property but in sections it will be nice.

Thank you everyone.

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  #19  
Old 01/17/12, 07:08 PM
 
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Meanwhile, try googling "Benjes hedge" and see what comes up. Some of it is in German, but there are some English language sites also.

Great for wildlife habitat!

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  #20  
Old 01/17/12, 10:19 PM
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Rattlers will appreciate you making long stretches of habitat for them....

Imho, and please don't take this the wrong way.............. I can see the need for cutting trails, if you have lots of forest open to sunlight with lots of shrubberies and small trees... but if you've got the 'spare' time to be building brush fences that'll last only a season or two... you have way too much time on your hands. I've literally got about 3 months (minimum) worth of work that seriously needs doing six months ago, and can't find the time to get it done. Wake up and triage what has to be done first. I do have a couple trails, in brushy areas.... every year or so I make a single pass with the bushhog and problem solved.

If I wanted fence, I'd use cedar or post oak posts, or t-posts. If I wanted screen, I'd chop out/bushhog a wide swath, and plant jillions of privets and eastern red cedar... with a smattering of wild rose... in five years you'd have an impenetrable screen... in ten, it'd stop everything but a hungry goat.

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