Living Fence Ideas: A Guideline

Building a fence in your yard can be quite an undertaking. It is not only a physically hard task; it can also be an expensive one. Fencing can cost well into the thousands of dollars for just a small amount. It can be unsightly and it also can hinder the natural crossing of wildlife. You can gain all the benefits of having an enclosed yard without all of the problems with having a fence by growing your own living fence. Below you will get some living fence ideas completely.

A Hedge Living FenceA Hedge – Living Fence

A living fence is creating a barrier with plants. Typically it is thought of as a traditional hedge but it can be as tall as trees or as small as a few topiaries. With a nearly unlimited selection of plants to choose from, your design for a living fence is only limited to your imagination. A living fence can act as a physical barrier prevents access to your area or as a sound or wind barrier.

Living Fence Ideas: The Advantages and Disadvantages

Living fence has many benefits. A living fence is a permanent hedge tight enough and tough enough to serve almost any of the functions of a manufactured fence, but it offers agricultural and biological services a manufactured fence cannot. For instance, it provides “edge habitat” that supports ecological diversity. As more species (insects, spiders, toads, snakes, birds and mammals) find food and refuge in this habitat, natural balances emerge, yielding, for example, a reduction of rodents and crop-damaging insect populations.

Flowering Living FenceFlowering Living Fence

Depending on the plant or tree species you choose, living fences can provide food and medicine, or fodder for your livestock. Your animals will also enjoy the shade of a dense hedge. The foliage of some hedge plants, such as elder and Chinese chestnut, contains more protein than the quintessential protein forage crop, alfalfa. Willow and honey locust also make good fodder. I’ve been experimenting with Siberian pea shrub recently, as the peas can be harvested to feed poultry.

Leguminous species included in the fence, such as black locust and pea shrub, fix nitrogen in the soil throughout the root zone, and you can harvest some of that nitrogen for garden mulches and compost in the form of leafy pruning. A living fence increases soil humus as its leaf litter and root hairs (which the plants shed to balance loss of top growth to pruning or browsing) break down.

Living fences are windbreaks, which reduce soil drying, wind erosion, and stress on livestock or crop plants, thus increasing yields. Hedges sited along contours can reduce rainfall erosion on slopes.

Green Living FenceGreen Living Fence

Living fences can last far longer than manufactured ones — for as long as the natural life span of the species used, which may be hundreds of years. Many species can be “coppiced,” meaning they will send up abundant new shoots after the main trunk has been cut. A living fence of a coppiced species readily renews itself following selective cutting for wood fuel and other uses.

Finally, a living fence, unlike a static manufactured fence, brings an ever-changing beauty to your landscape: flowers in spring, colorful fruit in summer, brilliant colors in fall and a complex, geometric structure in winter.

However, living fence also has some disadvantages. Establishing living fences can be labor-intensive, think of planting 450 seeds or cuttings per 100-yard stretch of fence. Before the fence becomes well-established, you’ll need to take care to protect it from weeds, deer and domesticated browsers. Regular pruning of the mature fence may be necessary. Of course, if you use the pruning for mulches or livestock fodder, the chore is hardly lost effort, and in some cases, the pruning can be left to grazing livestock.

Living Fence Ideas: Designing

After you know all the benefits and disadvantages of a living fence, it is time for you to design your own living fence. Below are some things you should consider carefully before you decide to have a living fence at your house.

Brainstorming ideas on paper for your living fence is a great way to begin planning for your design. What ideas do you have? Write them down. What is practical and what you dream up are going to be two different things. By writing down what you want now will help you decide what plants are right for your living fence. It also helps to define a budget at this time.

Living Fence for Natural GardenLiving Fence for Natural Garden

Draw a few sketches before you commit to drawing a final blueprint. Take your time, draw to scale and label everything. Here are a few things you should take into account:

• Budget: How much can you spend and how much your project costs?

• Species: What plants grow best and what can you afford?

• Climate: What conditions and terrain does your fence grow on?

• Labor: How many people and how much work will it take complete the job?

• Time: How long will it take to complete the job?

• Availability: Can the plants be delivered and are they available?

When designing a living fence you need to know what its primary use is for. Will it be used to block traffic noise? Will it be used to block vision to and from neighbors? Or will it be used for blocking strong breezy yards and open spaces? Addressing these questions early on in the design stage will help you decide in selecting what plants you will need. Here are a few tips when deciding what your living fence will be used for most:

• Large hedges followed by a row of trees helps to funnel noise up and over large open areas without disturbing the view.

• Trees followed by dense shrubbery followed by trees are a great way to protect against wind.

• Bamboo is a great living fence when you want to block the view of open areas.

• Training vines up a series of trellis’ can make an area seem private without losing the breeze.

• Planting tall trees facing the south side of your property will block sunlight; plant on the north side to let sunlight in.

Living Fence IdeasLiving Fence Ideas

What, where, and when you plant could make a difference in deciding the fate of your living fence. Making certain the proper species is chosen is critical to the overall health of your living fence. Check the soil conditions and terrain of living fence before you dig the first hole. The correct species of plant is needed in your living fence over certain terrains due to soil drainage and slope. Timing is the last step in planning before you begin planting. Always check that your local area is in the correct planting season. Starting too soon or late can be a sure way to lose your living fence. Follow these following steps and get ready to have a living fence:

• Choosing what to plant first can save you a lot of wasted time and money.

• Choose the right plant for the right soil conditions.

• Choose the right plant for the type of terrain you’re planting in.

• Choose the right time for planting your living fence

Once you have your design plans flawless it’s time to purchase your plants and dig some holes. Always use local advice for the proper planting and care of your plants. Study what each plant needs for care and maintenance. With the proper love and care, you can nurture your living fence to life for years and years to come. Hopefully these living fence ideas can help you to make a good decision for your home improvement.

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