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Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Strange Bear, Nov 6, 2004.
Anyone ever planted and maintained a living fence? How was it and what was it comprised of? Thanks
I plante siberian pear trees mainly for wind break on the north end. If planted close together they could make an effective impenetrable fence for things that won't browse on them. The brances spread out wide and are thonry.
I also planted about 70 lilac transplants 6 ft. apart. The ones that are growing well nearly 8' tall now. If you have the kind that don't sucker from the base, they'll spread into each other for a living fence.
I haven't planted with the idea for a living fence, but for evergreens, there is a row of about 100 down the fence line planted 8 ft. apart. Eventually they'll grow tall and shield the pasture view from the highway, so they are basically a fence behind the highway fence.
At the end of one garden, I planted a row of rugosa roses to intertwine. It attracted a lot of song birds. Other than that, it was sort of an experiment and see if possibly that would be an idea to surround a gardnen to keep out bigger vermin like deer. I wonder if anyone had this idea besides me?
"rugosa roses"........did you investigate these at all? Let me tell you......almost every oldtime for several miles around can give you the name of the man that introduced them to this area. They will over run fencerows and set aside fields in only a year. The birds eat the rose hips and spread the seed from one end of your homestead to the other. They are impossible to get rid of without chemicals unless you can mow every inch of your place several times a year.
They will keep deer out....maybe but more likely they will keep YOU out eventually. :no:
I totally concur with Diane. Years ago, rugosa roses were touted to be the perfect fence-thick, pretty and would keep all animals in or out depending on what you wanted. My Grandfather planted a long one from the barn to the hog shed. It was awful. It did what they claimed-but the seed spread everywhere and it grew out of control. It took my Uncle 2 or 3 DAYS on a bulldozer to remove those roses. They were huge-easily 7 feet tall, thick, and 3 feet wide. We have the cursed stuff on our farm too. It pops up everywhere. It does smell wonderful in the morning in June I'll grant it that put it's nothing but a huge, nasty weed.
Stacy in NY
I was actually thinking of osage orange and maybe black locust. Thanks for the info on the roses. Won't use those.
Were you wanting a windbreak, a visual screen, or a fence to keep the livestock in? What you want to use it for will influence what you plant.
For a visual screen or a windbreak, the soil conservation service will not only give you good advice, they will sell you plants at a cut-rate price. Your tax dollars at work.
If you want it to keep critters in, you are talking about a hedgerow. While they are rare in the new world, in Europe hedgerows have been used for many centuries as a living fence to keep the livestock in. They are more labor-intensive than a modern fence gecause they need to be pruned every couple of years to keep them thick enough to keep the livestock in.
Many of the old-time farming books explain the construction of a hedgerow. It takes a hedgerow a little while to get old enough and thick enough to keep the critters in, but a few hundred years ago in Europe the raw materials to build a fence with were expensive. Small trees, however, could be transplanted for the labor it took to dig them.
Black locust is a very good choice. It is fast growing & has thorns that should discourage most livestock.
So, what animals are living fences meant to contain?
Seems to me many would eat it...or lean on it. And you'd have to watch what plants you use, and what volunteers, because many that coppice well are poisonous...like black cherry and black locust.
And I'm grumpy and being negative this morning...don't mind me...
Actually the living fence is to keep the 2 legged animals out. Hopefully they won't be stupid enough to eat any of it. LOL
If it's for two legged critters then something with thorns or stickers would seem most appropriate! Depending on your growing conditions you could always try something like blackberries or holly bushes as well.
I've got a good book on building fences that includes living fences as well. Here is a list of some of the plants that THEY mention. I emphasize THEY becuase I really can't see anyone planting Honeysuckle these days...
Ornamental Hedge (i.e. shrubs)
Abelie, Barberry, Beauty bush, Boxwood, Euonymus, Firethorn, Forsythia, Honeysuckle, Hydrangea, Liliacs, Mock Orange, Moutain Laurel, Pieris, Rhododendron, Sweet Pepper bush, Roses (Rosa), Viburnem, Yew.
Dogwood, Crabapple, Gingko, Golden Chain Tree, Hawthorn, Hemlock, Holly, Japanese Snowball, Serviceberry, Silk tree, Redbud, Witch Hazel.
We had an autumn olive hedge on our farm in MI all along our drive which helped with drifting snow. I know some think this is a weed shrub,too but we kept it pruned and it has alot of berries for the birds. Grows quickly,too. DEE
Bamboo is popular around here but it will spread also. Mainly for wind break purposes or you can add climbing roses if you wish a thicker screen.
osage orage trees kept pruned down will even keep cows in...
if a cow wont bulldoze thru a person wont bother either.
There is information about hedging in 'The Guide to Self Sufficiency' by John Seymour. Its a bit more work intensive than just planting a row of bushes but when established you would have a really secure fence to keep animals in or out.
There is a big difference between honeysuckle vines and shrubs. The shrubs are what are used for hedges in the Midwest. Vines are decorative on a trellis. We have honeysuckle shrubs on the east side of our yard, you can go through it with a little effort. I planted forsythia shrubs about 1Â½ feet apart several years ago and they have grown together nicely. No one is going to walk through them. We have lilac on the north. It is a very old hedge and no one is going to walk through it either. Your best bet would be to talk to your state forester's office or the county extension service as they would know what works in your area. Also, in Iowa you can buy from the state forester's office packages of plants native to our area for a very low price. You order now and they will tell you where to pick them up in the spring. Osage orange will definitely stop cattle or anything short of a bulldozer. Nasty nasty long mean thorns. It also makes great fence posts with a long rot free life. As firewood it is dangerous as it gets hot enough to melt down a stove.
A side note. My uncle served in the infantry in WWII going ashore at Normandy. After seeing hundreds, if not thousands, killed in the hedgerows there the first thing he did when he returned home was take out all the hedgerows on his farm.
You might get more helpfull suggestions if you tell us where you are. I'm in NC and have just planted a living fence along our property line for privacy. I used mostly native shrubs that provide food and cover for wildlife and that have at least three seasons of interest. They will all be bare twigs in the winter. I planted Chickasaw Plum, filberts, mayhaws, and beautyberry. Theresa.
I live in Northeast Indiana.
I just wanted to comment on Honeysuckle; We just had to cut down a bunch to REwire a fencerow BECAUSE.. my little Chihuahuas and Pekingese can get through ANYTHING! (But not NOW!!
If anyone wants Honeysuckle cuttings.... PM me!! It smells so wonderful in the spring and summer!!
Just a warning: We just paid a lot of money to a vet to save our Great Pyr's life due to Black locust thorns.
Seems he stabbed himself in the leg all the way to a main vein and wife found him the next morning bleeding to death. (doc still can't believe he lived with all the blood loss). It has been three weeks and he still hasn't completely healed.
BTW we are ripping out all the Locust on our property this week.