living fence/live fencing/growing hedge sustainable fencing

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living fence/live fencing/growing hedge sustainable fencing

Post by jclaudii » Wed Dec 14, 2011 4:02 pm

as seen here:
http://www.motherearthnews.com/modern-h ... m0sto.aspx" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

This has been done for generations in other countries like Europe, and was even introduced here before barbed wire tamed the prairies...but it is not practiced much anymore. I was thinking of doing a trail run of some fencing for a few areas on my property and possibly our family farm. Pro's is it is always there and can be a very formidable for livestock (mainly horses) and can even detour deer and pigs. Also, could be useful in high erosion areas like alongside a creek bank where traditional fence post will get washed out from time to time. Cons: takes up to 4 years to have a fence that is strong enough to do the above and will require regular maintenance up to the 4 year mark(or desired height and structure) and require ongoing maintenance and pruning after that. As informative as the article is, it is still lacking. I was hoping some of our folks that have seen these (other side of pond perhaps) or locals who are trying it would give me some advice on books or other sites to look up on. I am mainly trying to decide on which species of tree to plant.

Thanks in advance!

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Re: living fence/live fencing/growing hedge sustainable fenc

Post by jeepgunman » Wed Dec 14, 2011 5:43 pm

Im glad you posted this. Ive been thinking of doing the same for awhile....this fall I gathered some Osage Orange seed pods. Im going to let them sit in a buckets this winter and try it the spring.
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Re: living fence/live fencing/growing hedge sustainable fenc

Post by weaselkeeper » Sat Dec 17, 2011 3:45 am

I grew up in rural England, and Privet hedges and Hawthorne hedges were common. Doesn't take too long for the Hawthorne ones to be useful. Privet are mostly pretty, since they can be trimmed square and look good, takes years for them to be useful as barriers though.

Living in Washington as I do now, bramble is the obvious choice, but you'll have to be very aggressive in trimming it back. But it only takes a year or two to make a good barrier.

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Re: living fence/live fencing/growing hedge sustainable fenc

Post by aephilli » Thu Dec 22, 2011 11:33 am

Sounds like "hedgerows". Ask anybody who was in the Normandy area of France in summer 1944 if they make an effective barrier once well established. :)

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Re: living fence/live fencing/growing hedge sustainable fenc

Post by 44Dave » Fri Dec 23, 2011 12:15 pm

This article is pertinent to my interests. My 2012 summer project was going to be planting a fence.

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Re: living fence/live fencing/growing hedge sustainable fenc

Post by Syncretic » Fri Dec 23, 2011 9:08 pm

I didn't read the article listed, so pardon me if this is redundant. Honey locust was used regularly to produce hedgerows. It is relatively fast growing, tolerant of adverse conditions, and it produces layer after layer of five inch thorns that have been used as nails. It continues to be formidable years after it dies. The main drawback to using Honey Locust is it tends to be invasive and requires regular mowing around the hedgerow to keep it in check.
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Re: living fence/live fencing/growing hedge sustainable fenc

Post by PackLemming » Fri Dec 23, 2011 9:22 pm

Our terraced house front yard hedge is easily 50 years old. The new neighbors arrogantly cut theirs down soon after moving in, which was also at least 50 years old, both had different types of folliage and contrasted and both kept the city trash blowing in over the wall and prying eyes out of the living room. They are nice to have and cheaper in upkeep to that of fencing.
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Re: living fence/live fencing/growing hedge sustainable fenc

Post by Jeriah » Fri Dec 23, 2011 10:47 pm

I'm currently in the Sonora Desert, where these were common: http://www.studiogblog.com/plants-nativ ... splendens/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

You can do anything from cut branches and use them as a (non-living) fencing material, to just planting ocotillos around your perimeter and allowing them to grow together into a rough barrier. But by far the classiest in my view is constructing panels by stringing or wiring a bunch of cut branches together, then planting their bottom end in a shallow trench so they grow. You can then trim them for a "neat" appearance (lame) or let them grow freely so they take on a more natural experience.

Here's some basic instructions: http://www.southwestern-dream-home.com/ ... fence.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Only works in the desert, though. If I moved to a desert region I would do this right away. It's just too awesome not to.
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Re: living fence/live fencing/growing hedge sustainable fenc

Post by Ad'lan » Sat Dec 24, 2011 12:43 pm

We have very old and established hedgerows in the UK (hundreds of years). But they require care, time and skill to make sound and proof against escaping animals. It's pretty common to see a hedge have a patch of wicker, wire or a spare gate over a bare spot where otherwise, things could get in or out.

However, done well, they are sturdy, and once established provide lots of resources. The article is a good introduction to the concept. But if I were just beginning with 'living fences' (lol at the new, cool name for a hedge), I'd want to get some hands on experience with them, before I then gave it a go myself, coppicing sounds simple, but it isn't, and the particular climate you live in may suit one thing over another when it comes to planting.
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Re: living fence/live fencing/growing hedge sustainable fenc

Post by Gingersam » Sat Dec 24, 2011 12:49 pm

Ad'lan wrote:We have very old and established hedgerows in the UK (hundreds of years). But they require care, time and skill to make sound and proof against escaping animals. It's pretty common to see a hedge have a patch of wicker, wire or a spare gate over a bare spot where otherwise, things could get in or out.

However, done well, they are sturdy, and once established provide lots of resources. The article is a good introduction to the concept. But if I were just beginning with 'living fences' (lol at the new, cool name for a hedge), I'd want to get some hands on experience with them, before I then gave it a go myself, coppicing sounds simple, but it isn't, and the particular climate you live in may suit one thing over another when it comes to planting.
Round my area most of the farmers have stopped bothering with the hedges and have put up fences next to the existing and threadbare hedges. Simple and lower maintenance.

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Re: living fence/live fencing/growing hedge sustainable fenc

Post by ZombieGranny » Sat Dec 24, 2011 3:06 pm

Keep in mind a cow will try to get her body through a hole where her head will go.
Sort of like cats.
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Re: living fence/live fencing/growing hedge sustainable fenc

Post by Ad'lan » Sat Dec 24, 2011 5:15 pm

Gingersam wrote: Round my area most of the farmers have stopped bothering with the hedges and have put up fences next to the existing and threadbare hedges. Simple and lower maintenance.
The way I hear it is the shift started due to lack of man power to maintain them, lots of skilled coppicers being killed in the wars and the rise of bigger farms gave the push to get rid of them. Millions of miles of hedgerow were grubbed up to make bigger fields, and no one thinks of the costs for a long term fence because people don't need long term fencing anymore.

Coppicing does seem to be on a slight rise for ornamental gardens, traditionalists and small holders, but there's a lack of work = lack of skilled people = lack of work cycle going on.
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Re: living fence/live fencing/growing hedge sustainable fenc

Post by TCB in TN » Mon Jan 02, 2012 1:30 pm

Had read this the other day and noticed a couple of old farms locally that old fence has been removed, but a thick line of small trees remains. In sections it appears tight enough to contain cattle, but probably not goats/sheep etc. It did get me to thinking though. What about a combination of berm and hedges? Almost ever old farm around here has small pond and the dam of those ponds are covered with brush/briar/ small trees etc until it is pretty much an impassible mess. Using some heavy equipment one could push up a small berm (maybe 3-4 feet high) around an area and cover/plant with a mix of thorny, sticky, prickly materials that livestock would be less inclined to want to go through. A covered berm would be an effective easier to maintain and more likely to work IMHO.
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Re: living fence/live fencing/growing hedge sustainable fenc

Post by DarkandShiny » Mon Jan 02, 2012 2:29 pm

Glad you brought this up. Here is a good example of a natural fence.

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This does need some supplementary hardware which you can read about here:
http://thecontraryfarmer.wordpress.com/ ... dark-side/

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Re: living fence/live fencing/growing hedge sustainable fenc

Post by Manoos » Sat Jan 07, 2012 6:27 pm

I grew up part of my life in Chile, South America. Living fencing, although not as prevalent and nice as in Europe (I also grew up in England) but they were widely used by the farmers in the south of Chile. Hawthorn was one of the most used but also a version of the chokecherry tree (no idea the real name if there is another) to make hedges. Thorns would stop wild dogs in their tracks.
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Re: living fence/live fencing/growing hedge sustainable fenc

Post by LaserCool » Sun Jan 08, 2012 8:35 pm

Here in Florida, and I hear in southern California, we use bougainvillea as a natural barbed wire. It grows fast, is fairly trainable, has pretty flowers, and inch long thorns that will ruin your day trying to get through it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bougainvillea

Granted, also we can grow blackberry brambles in Central Florida, but they tend to be a 3-year plant and die out afterwards, and aren't as trainable as bougainvillea. Also the latter is seen more as an ornamental, so it's widely accepted.
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Re: living fence/live fencing/growing hedge sustainable fenc

Post by Kutter_0311 » Sun Jan 08, 2012 9:18 pm

I find this concept very interesting. Anyone tried weaving barbed wire through the line of plants to reinforce the perimeter? Might help keep smaller animals from breaking through, and limit errosion from animal traffic. I'd like to try this once I have a permanent propperty. Maybe a berm and trench perimiter reinforced with hedgerows/barbed wire...

Any thoughts?
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living fence/live fencing/growing hedge sustainable fencing

Post by ScottAW » Sun Jan 08, 2012 9:56 pm

In most of the US Osage orange is the way to go. The "oranges" each have a few hundred seeds, and are very easy to extract into useful seeds. Freeze and unfreeze until its pulp, plant in a shallow trench and tons of little trees will bud.

Osage grows quickly, has strong trunk and branches, and grows long nasty thorns. Not really fun to prune, but an effective barrier.

Once it's grown it's one of the best woods for making tool handles and bows, and has the highest btu's of anything.

But, once you plant some, it'll be there for a long time, lots of hard work to gt rid of. My neighbor has a long old row, and he let me collect some oranges to get mine started.

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Re: living fence/live fencing/growing hedge sustainable fenc

Post by DarkandShiny » Mon Jan 09, 2012 5:52 pm

Anyone tried weaving barbed wire through the line of plants to reinforce the perimeter?
I haven't tried weaving barbed wire to existing vegetation, but I have done the opposite. We stretched a 3 strand barbed wire fence a while back. The fence was so ugly that I planted a Pyracantha bush between each post. After a year (with irrigation) you couldn't even see the barbed wire fence any longer. Now, three years later, the thorny bush is so thick that I doubt the fence will ever be touched again. In the fall the bushes are full of red berries that the birds love.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrocantha

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Re: living fence/live fencing/growing hedge sustainable fenc

Post by Manoos » Mon Jan 09, 2012 8:15 pm

The way I remember it being done was with baling wire once the bushes were around 2-3'' high, the idea being it was cheaper and it allowed the bushed to be pulled together tighter. I saw one poacher almost cut his arm off running into one of those wires tensed between two bushes (no law against wires in bushes and they don't qualify as booby traps), secondly a trench was dug about 1 foot deep 2 feet from the base of the bushes on the outer part for "irrigation". Very efective.
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Re: living fence/live fencing/growing hedge sustainable fenc

Post by Ad'lan » Tue Jan 10, 2012 9:16 am

DarkandShiny wrote:
Anyone tried weaving barbed wire through the line of plants to reinforce the perimeter?
I haven't tried weaving barbed wire to existing vegetation, but I have done the opposite. We stretched a 3 strand barbed wire fence a while back. The fence was so ugly that I planted a Pyracantha bush between each post. After a year (with irrigation) you couldn't even see the barbed wire fence any longer. Now, three years later, the thorny bush is so thick that I doubt the fence will ever be touched again. In the fall the bushes are full of red berries that the birds love.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrocantha
Pyrocantha is what my parents hedge is. It's a bloody menace to trim, and the only gap in our section is where it can't survive the walnut tree.
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Re: living fence/live fencing/growing hedge sustainable fenc

Post by Red_Snow » Tue Jan 10, 2012 12:24 pm

ScottAW wrote:In most of the US Osage orange is the way to go. The "oranges" each have a few hundred seeds, and are very easy to extract into useful seeds. Freeze and unfreeze until its pulp, plant in a shallow trench and tons of little trees will bud.

Osage grows quickly, has strong trunk and branches, and grows long nasty thorns. Not really fun to prune, but an effective barrier.

Once it's grown it's one of the best woods for making tool handles and bows, and has the highest btu's of anything.

But, once you plant some, it'll be there for a long time, lots of hard work to gt rid of. My neighbor has a long old row, and he let me collect some oranges to get mine started.
Any ideas on how badly it sprawls? Looking at planting quite a bit of hedgerow this year on my parents place but don't want something that will encroach too far into the pastureland that it will be planted around.
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Re: living fence/live fencing/growing hedge sustainable fenc

Post by Silverbug » Tue Jan 10, 2012 1:55 pm

http://www.motherearthnews.com/modern-h ... spx?page=5

This is an article Mother Earth News did a while back on using living fences. It covers mostly the Osage Orange (bull and pig proof) but touches on other plants. A good living hedge done right will take about 3 years from trenching to weaving and then growing to an appropriate height. We tried this a couple summers ago, but we live in one of the few regions that the Osage Orange does not grow in.

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Re: living fence/live fencing/growing hedge sustainable fenc

Post by Red_Snow » Tue Jan 10, 2012 6:27 pm

Silverbug wrote:http://www.motherearthnews.com/modern-h ... spx?page=5

This is an article Mother Earth News did a while back on using living fences. It covers mostly the Osage Orange (bull and pig proof) but touches on other plants. A good living hedge done right will take about 3 years from trenching to weaving and then growing to an appropriate height. We tried this a couple summers ago, but we live in one of the few regions that the Osage Orange does not grow in.
Thanks for the info. Same article as linked in OP, guess I should have read it further.

Does anyone know where I can purchase osage orange fruit? Looking at buying several bushels of it as the hedgerow would be roughly 6500 linear feet if we go all in.
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