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living fences

Mariah Wallener


Joined: Feb 02, 2011
Posts: 144
Location: Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, Canada
I've just been learning about living fences, made with willow. Apparently you can grow willow by shoving a stick of it in the ground - who knew?

I'm thinking this has many applications in permaculture, providing the obvious function of fencing off parts of a garden or yard, but perhaps also providing support for vertical elements in the garden. In perusing various videos and websites I got the feeling one could make living fences out of more than just willow, and wondered if there was a "polyculture" living fence that could incorporate some flowering vines to attract bees, birds, and other beneficials, even just using the willow fence as support.

For myself I am in a situation where I desperately need some fencing (mostly for the dog) and the budget for that just went to the tax man, so no money for this right now (and I don't want something ugly, if I can at all avoid it). We do have willows around here, so thought perhaps this could be a solution for us.

Anybody have any experience with this?


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Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
there are hundreds of plants that will grow from cuttings just stuck in the ground..just remember to research the plants that you want to start and find out if the are best propagated from hard or soft wood and in the spring, summer or fall..most softwoods are early on (of course) and hardwood cuttings in fall or winter or very early spring before new growth.

willows are best done in the winter and NOT near your drainfield or house..by a long ways.

they'll clog your pipes

there are a few other threads on here on living fences so do a search..

lots of people are working on these as well as hedgrows or fedges (fruiting hedges) so there is a lot of info here, just do some searches


Brenda

Bloom where you are planted.
http://restfultrailsfoodforestgarden.blogspot.com/
gary gregory


Joined: Apr 09, 2009
Posts: 395
Location: northern california, 50 miles inland from Mendocino, zone 7
Trucs d'artan

google- living willow fence photos, or mixed species living fence photos- for design ideas


Gary
Jordan Lowery
volunteer

Joined: Sep 26, 2009
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
    
  11
i prefer a diversity of plants in my living fence. so it gives me food, beauty, wildlife, a fence, fixes Nitrogen, and more. willow is a good plant to have in there though, free rooting hormone whenever you want.


The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings. - Masanobu Fukuoka
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6498
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
133
A few generations ago, hedgerows were the common way to fence perimeters, and cross fencing (how can you beat a free fence?).  I have never understood the reasoning behind getting away from this practice.  Many "spent out" monoculture farms tore out hedgerow cross fences to open up pastures, only to find that the soil along these fence lines was the richest and most fertile soil on the farm!
Jordan Lowery
volunteer

Joined: Sep 26, 2009
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
    
  11
I have never understood the reasoning behind getting away from this practice.


its simple. because when you put up a metal fence, its a fence right now. when you plant a living fence/hedge, its a fence in 3 or 4 years possibly a little more depending on the species chosen and soil conditions.
                                      


Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 21
you could also search craiglist for free/scrap chain link/deer fencing and then make a "living" fence out of it by training vining/caning plants through it. you're keeping those materials out of a landfill and get the right plants you won't even see the metal....


http://www.kevinsedibleyard.com/
                                              


Joined: Mar 30, 2011
Posts: 500
L8Bloomer wrote:
I've just been learning about living fences, made with willow. Apparently you can grow willow by shoving a stick of it in the ground - who knew?


what a great topic!!! one im playing with as well. i hope more get into it. It offers the added bonus of diversity for the insects and the like i would imagine as well.....

I wanted to say though that you can make "willow tea", and then use it as a rooting hormone for other types of plants and trees.
                        


Joined: Jan 01, 2011
Posts: 40
Location: Berkeley,CA
Got to love a living fence!  You can speed up the process by ground layering whatever you decide to plant as your fence.  Once you have a tree/shrub established bend branches down to the soil in the line you want your fence to go in and stake them down, cover them with soil, water and it will form a whole new plant.  This way you can plant a bit more sparsely than you have to and then fill in the gaps.  It works for anything that you can grow from a cutting and even some things that you can't, quicker too.
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
EricTheRed wrote:You can speed up the process by ground layering whatever you decide to plant as your fence.


*nods*

There's some room for layering in the process of traditional hedge laying, as well.

More:

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


"the qualities of these bacteria, like the heat of the sun, electricity, or the qualities of metals, are part of the storehouse of knowledge of all men.  They are manifestations of the laws of nature, free to all men and reserved exclusively to none." SCOTUS, Funk Bros. Seed Co. v. Kale Inoculant Co.
T. Pierce


Joined: Mar 13, 2011
Posts: 254
Location: Virginia
i believe it was MOTHER EARTH NEWS that had an article some months back on how to build a living hedge using osage orange.  seemed might simple process.  but there are numerous other type plants trees to use that will actually feed livestock.

honey locust was once a popular one.
Paul Cereghino
volunteer

Joined: Jan 11, 2010
Posts: 847
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
    
  14
Also taken up in another thread:
http://www.permies.com/permaculture-forums/1437_0/woodland-care/planning-on-growing-a-hedgeliving-fence


Paul Cereghino- Stewardship Institute
Maritime Temperate Coniferous Rainforest - Mild Wet Winter, Dry Summer
Leif Kravis


Joined: Oct 03, 2010
Posts: 78
Location: Toronto Canada
I'm with Paul on the cedars not having competition in dense stands, all that seems to grow with them are ferns in dense huge masses , here in southern ontario, but they dont seem to like grass that much, nor do they do so well , when they are scattered and single trees. I dont like them much in dense stands they shelter a ton of mosquitoes during the day.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
John Polk wrote:
A few generations ago, hedgerows were the common way to fence perimeters, and cross fencing (how can you beat a free fence?).  I have never understood the reasoning behind getting away from this practice.  Many "spent out" monoculture farms tore out hedgerow cross fences to open up pastures, only to find that the soil along these fence lines was the richest and most fertile soil on the farm!



primarily impatience and the need to consume
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
I've really got no need right now for fences ..but have been building hedgerows and windbreaks around the property, and yeah, they do take forever to grow !! but they are worth it.

haven't ever had the $ to put in much at a time..and the deer to tend to browse down some of the plants when I put them in, so then I have to replant something else to see if I can outsmart them.

Jordan Lowery
volunteer

Joined: Sep 26, 2009
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
    
  11
I've really got no need right now for fences ..but have been building hedgerows and windbreaks around the property, and yeah, they do take forever to grow !! but they are worth it.


i would consider hedgerows and windbreaks as fences, just not in the way most modern people see a fence.

i got a few new plants i am going to make a living fence out of, just took a few hundred cuttings from most of them and have them propagating.

barberry
prinsepia
Szechuan peppercorn
willow
autumn olive
hazelnut
pyracantha

and a few trees to throw in here and there

should have a nice thick living fence in 3-5 years.
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1404
Location: Chihuahua Desert
I would absolutely love to have a nice thick hedge surrounding my entire property, but unfortunately, there are some obstacles with that plan....

dry climate - willows, and most common living fence species require more rain than what we receive.  so, I have to look at what will survive locally.

slow with local species - I do have western junipers wild on my property, and there are some wild grapes, and acacia, but we are talking about a fence that will take decades to build.

availability of alternate species - I am sure there are other species that could work here, but getting them might be an issue.  Most of the nurseries I have access to have poor selection, and most species are invasive non-natives.


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Daniel Kern


Joined: May 20, 2014
Posts: 91
    
    8
Just found out about this idea. it is so cool. had to post a picture I found to share the beauty of it.



The image is from Living Willow Fences


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Kris schulenburg


Joined: Feb 22, 2013
Posts: 57
Location: Henry County Ky Zone 6
    
    3
i found out by accident that if a horse eats hedge apples and you dump the manure in your garden, there are zillions of hedge-apple sprouts in the spring. So if you dump it where you want a hedge, they will come up in a useful spot. It was working wonderfully this spring until the sheep got out. Horses and sheep love hedge apple leaves.
 
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