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Plant a Living Fence

 
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The Living Fence project for the 2022 Permaculture Technology Jamboree.

We'll be planting a living fence along the road in front of basecamp.  

Reference Threads:
https://permies.com/t/42519/permaculture-projects/focus-food-systems-fence-aesthetics
https://permies.com/wiki/146568/Plant-Feet-Living-Fence-woodland
https://permies.com/t/43425/permaculture-projects/hedge-plants-living-fence-coppicing
https://permies.com/t/40/43425/permaculture-projects/hedge-plants-living-fence-coppicing

After refreshing my familiarity with the above threads on living fences, here's some of the species/methods we may pursue for this project.

Some species to consider for inclusion:

Willow-
May or may not be a great option at the Lab, as they need heeeeaps of water.  Might be plausible to establish a bit of a willow fence at the boundary of the pond that we're sealing, where the cistern overflow enters?  
Question - are there willows in use for the willow feeders?  If so, we could either take cuttings, or practice air-layering and weaving of those.
Related - I have a half dozen or so cottonwood stakes that I could bring.


Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera) aka Hedge-
I'll bring a half gallon or so hedge seeds that we can make up into a slurry bucket and spread in a trench along a proposed fenceline.  In my neck of the woods, this is how my great-great grandfather planted his fenceposts circa 1907.
Related - mulberry is a close relative.  Maybe we can try some mulberry, as well.

Hazel-
Last time I was at the lab, there was a healthy amount of hazelnuts.  I suppose they would get decimated by wildlife.  We'd probably have to put up a fence to guard the fence during establishment, which seems redundant.  But maybe there is an area that is already protected where we could try a hazelnut hedge.

Black Locust-
Great fodder tree and nitrogen fixer, obviously.  Will it stand up to the heavy cutting and bending at the base?

Mulberry-yummy, good coppice tree.

Hawthorn

What else?
Thoughts on establishment phase?
Thoughts on protection from wildlife browsing?
How is Tim Southwell's living fence coming along over at ABC Acres???
 
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I’ve been thinking of this when looking at my irascible and persistent hardy kiwis, wondering if I can train them along a cattle panel that we have on one side of a pasture.  Researching to find out if it’s toxic sheep before committing.  I’d rather experiment with the kiwi berries than the hazelnuts we’re trying to establish.

Audrey
Hancock, NH
 
Beau Davidson
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Audrey Carrel wrote:I’ve been thinking of this when looking at my irascible and persistent hardy kiwis, wondering if I can train them along a cattle panel that we have on one side of a pasture.



Love the idea of training hardy kiwis up a fence, thank you for sharing your idea, Audrey!

I wonder if, after the fence is well-established (which may take a decade) maybe hardy kiwis or other vines could do some climbing.  
 
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I wonder if elderberries could be trained as a living fence, or if it would just be a pruning nightmare. They are so easy to sprout from cuttings, I've got a jar of them starting in my kitchen window for planting at my cabin.
 
Beau Davidson
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Denise Kersting wrote:I wonder if elderberries could be trained as a living fence, or if it would just be a pruning nightmare. They are so easy to sprout from cuttings, I've got a jar of them starting in my kitchen window for planting at my cabin.


You are right, Elderberries are super vigorous.  

However, to quote Paul from the thread linked above:

paul wheaton wrote:Just to be clear, there are many types of hedges and the type of hedge we wish to create is something that will keep animals in.  Something that you grow for two or three years and then do this:



So, at least for now, we're just utilizing tree species.
 
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paul wheaton wrote:
Just to be clear, there are many types of hedges and the type of hedge we wish to create is something that will keep animals in.  Something that you grow for two or three years and then do this:


I have had a grape vine fence on the north side of the garden for ten years.  It kept the deer out.  They would brows the tender tips as they grew in the spring but those need to be pruned anyway for best production and control of spread. Satisfied they move on instead of trying to get to the tasty things in the garden.   I have just rebuilt it so it is not deer proof at the moment but I will try to find a before picture and take a current one.
 
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Elderberry berries are nutritious. Elderberry leaves and twigs are poisonous with cyanide substance. See https://www.eattheweeds.com/elderberries-red-white-and-blue/ . This article by Green Dean even has a recipe for making insecticide from the leaves. So depending on whether you plan to keep animals in or out of the fenced area, elderberry plants may not be a good choice.
 
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I started with one 20 x 60 garden for years. I got very little out of it because of the deer. I tried the peeing around the perimeter, hanging dirty laundry around the edges, the human hair thing; even a 5 strand electric fence only to watch a deer and her fawn zip thru it. Then I went with an 8 foot high fence. Finally some relief unless I forgot to shut the gate. This went on until I decided I needed more veggies so I sold my above ground pool which had a half circle deck and went container gardening. the heat off the deck was making me water every day. I finally put in another 30 x 60 unfenced garden with only those plants deer don't go after, unless their food source runs out. I planted all those fuzzy plants like Squash, tomatoes, cucumber, melons, and corn. So far, so good. The reason I bring this up is I do let my watermelon and pole beans climb the fence, knowing I will still share a percentage with the deer.
 
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Audrey Carrel wrote:I’ve been thinking of this when looking at my irascible and persistent hardy kiwis, wondering if I can train them along a cattle panel that we have on one side of a pasture.  Researching to find out if it’s toxic sheep before committing.  I’d rather experiment with the kiwi berries than the hazelnuts we’re trying to establish.

Audrey
Hancock, NH



Audrey,
  Not only are they not toxic, they are high in protein and minerals.  My goats love them!  After two years which it takes to them to get really established they take off and grow rampant.  Trellis very well, and in fact, I had one climb up into my 15 foot fig tree which grew nearby, which I did not want to happen.  Just prune back some of that rampant growth and feed fresh or dried to your livestock.  

 
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paul wheaton wrote:Just to be clear, there are many types of hedges and the type of hedge we wish to create is something that will keep animals in.  Something that you grow for two or three years and then do this:



This is a UK-style laid hedge, probably hawthorn but it is difficult to say from that photo. They are absolutely stockproof when done right and serve as fantastic wildlife "corridors". You will need to wait more than 2-3 years however, the typical rule is to wait until the saplings are 6-8' tall and a couple of inches in diameter before laying for the first time. The young, laid hedge will need to be fenced for a further year or two as it is very susceptible to browsing pressure at this time - the laid stems ("pleachers") are fragile and will die if the cambium is nibbled. They are also putting on loads of fresh growth which needs to be protected as it will form the bulk of the hedge in years to come.

On species, Willow is not a good choice for a hedge for several reasons:

  • It is a very heavy feeder and will take nutrients away from the grass or crops in the field
  • It is highly nutritious and favoured by many animals, who will eat it
  • No thorns/spines and a tendancy to grow up, rather than through itself (less dense hedge)


  • Living willow fences and sculptures are beautiful and, in the right context, are amazing things. I don't think they work as stockproof boundaries, nor boundaries to vegetable patches, etc.

    I would also caution planting willows alongside a sealed pond as their roots will seek out the water and may well punch through the clay/biofilm and unseal the pond!
     
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    I don't know if the soil at wheaton labs base camp is rich enough for this kind of fence?? What kind of ammendments will supplement the rock and sand? Only certain species will live in that. Also, I'll bet it would have to be irrigated a lot... boots with the tanker truck!
     
    Luke Mitchell
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    In India and Sri Lanka they often plant Gliricidia as a living fence. It strikes root from green cuttings and these can be seen placed regularly along a boundary. It doesn't seem to have any issues with poor, dry soil. Some of the plants are allowed to grow into trees and then pollarded; the leaves are used for compost-making and as a fodder crop. Apparently it is native to Mexico. T
     
    Beau Davidson
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    Rebekah Harmon wrote:I don't know if the soil at wheaton labs base camp is rich enough for this kind of fence?? What kind of ammendments will supplement the rock and sand? Only certain species will live in that. Also, I'll bet it would have to be irrigated a lot... boots with the tanker truck!



    This is the concern!  

    The hope is that, if planted between the hugel and the road, the wee baby fence will be the recipient of all eventual runoff from both sides.  Combine that with constant visual monitoring due to its high traffic location, and Paul believes it to have the best chances of initial success.  All we can do is try . . .
     
    Beau Davidson
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    Luke, thank you for your information on hedge-laying!  It is in line with our thinking, and adds clarity to a few points for me.  Your input is appreciated!

    You are right about willow.  That's why it's struck-through on the original post.

    Regarding Gliricidia, it is exclusive to tropical climates, is it not?  
     
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    My personal experience with hedgerows comes from growing up in the US midwest. In the flat Illinois farmland, property was divided up in 160 acre sections. Much of the rich, black soil was marsh, and too wet for farming. So the first large scale projects were installing an incredibly intricate and labor intensive network of buried clay field tiles, and above ground ditches to drain the fields.
    Then came the Great Depression and the Dustbowl. The Fed Govt created the CCC, to create jobs and work on conservation projects. Most pavilions and other structures in State Parks were built by those skilled craftsmen, but to tackle the dustbowl problem, they brought in millions of Osage Orange seedlings from down south, and planted them according to the surveyors marks, so each section and quarter section was delineated with hedge. In some areas they used muliflora rose. Sadly, large scale industrial farming has led to most being bulldozed and burned to make room for the monstrous machinery that goes along with monoculture row cropping.

    Those hedgerows were for wind erosion control, not for keeping livestock in, so most also included three or four strands of barbed wire on locust posts, then steel posts.  

    Now, except for farmers running cattle, the barbed wire is gone, too.

    I first learned about tradittional English and European hedgerows as a kid reading books about our soldiers fighting their way through France in WWII. They called it Hedgerow Hopping, and it was brutal~ leaving the shelter of one hedgerow to cross an open field into the fire of German 88s and MG42s entrenched in the next hedgerow.

    At some point, I found descriptions on how those traditional hedgerows were made. They usually involved a steep berm of soil in which the appropriate plants were planted on a slant, and then were woven into an inpenetrable barrier.

    Fascinating stuff on the ingenuity of humans.

    I will also say that Osage Orange and Mulberry are excellent choices. Just look out if you plant Mulberry! The birds eat the berries and sit on your garden fence pooping seeds into your garden. Better pull them the first year before they get their taproot down!
    But both Osage and Mulberry make close to the ultimate firewood. Among the highest BTU content of all American woods. And I think one could make good money selling bow staves to the traditional archery community.
     
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    I have built a hedge using aki goumi, a great nitrogen fixer with edible berries. It is a little lean on the lower levels, but works well for keeping out deer. So far they have only had nibbles on the leaves and ignore the berries. As a bonus, it is a beautiful shrub.
     
    Luke Mitchell
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    Beau Davidson wrote:Regarding Gliricidia, it is exclusive to tropical climates, is it not?  



    Ah, of course. I confess that I have almost no knowledge of Montana but I believe it is very hot in the summer and below freezing in the winter? The latter would rule of Gliricidia, I'm sure.
     
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    I think before we think about planting a hedge we need to identify our goals for it. For instance, my goals are (in order of precedence), livestock containment (Shetland sheep are about as good as goats at escaping), wind/sun shelter, wildlife habitat/corridors, and food sources for the livestock and me.

    Osage orange, at least here in Ohio, can be coppiced and forms pretty impenetrable thickets if given the chance. I'm looking at using it and mulberry to supplement the native hawthorns for my perimeter hedge which will hopefully keep my Shetland sheep contained....As already mentioned, Osage orange and mulberry have the advantage of making great firewood; and both mulberry and hawthorn provide edible fruit. Not to mention that all three have leaves that can become fodder for the sheep any time I trim....

    I'd also add some taller trees--looking at hickory, maple, and oak depending on the soils, to provide summer shade for the pastures and seed/nut crops. Then things like elderberry, pawpaw, American hazelnut, and black raspberries along the non-pasture side for treats for me :)

    The way I look at it is the more I diversify and use things native to my local ecosystem (I know Osage orange isn't native to Ohio, but it's been posited that prior to the last ice age it was widespread over much of this continent with fruits/seeds dispersed by mastodons) the more likely I am to create a system that better mimics healthy biodiversity on my property which offsets, maybe just a bit but every bit helps, the monocultures in the open fields down the road.

    Just my two cents.
     
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    Seems like, if a person wants to make something like that happen in 5 years or less, they are going to need fertile well-watered loam about 2 feet deep.   Less rich soil or faster growth, given the most aggressive weeds in your area...

    A ~fifty 50 yard stretch of my wanna be green hedge is a low grade ridge with exceedingly poor soil and water conditions.    Mostly red brick clay hardpan.  So poor that a Himalayan blackberry will languish, 3 years in and the canes were 2 feet tall.  They rounded a corner this year!  New cane shoots are going on 3 ft with a few pushing 4.   Great success.

    4 years, for blackberries, in this climate.  And they're probably 2-3 years out from making a barrier no deer will mess with.  Ha  

    godspeed and score
     
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    This is a great thread! Very helpful right now as we are establishing some living hedges.

    I'm curious if there is a video, or more info on the great photos at the start of this. The one with the bending of the first growth, the weaving of the second, and the lovely cow by the 3rd photo!

    We planted out 45 black locust yesterday.  (Ya, we planted them too close, I know , I know, live and learn).

    We would like to see this project through, have this as a perimeter fence, with another living fence inside. We will run sheep or goats between occasionally as mowers, and have them in the main areas most of the time.
    20220703_154626.jpg
    [Thumbnail for 20220703_154626.jpg]
     
    Catherine Carney
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    Youtube has a bunch of videos about laying hedge. I've linked to one that was created in England during WW2, but there are plenty of others:  


    Hope it helps.
     
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    I must have missed that this was going on, I have a pound of seeds in both osage orange and black locust you can use, they have been in my fridge for 2 years now and in the trailer up on the lab for the last couple months. If they can be put to use for overseeding that works for me. Make sure to boil some water and then after you take it off the boil, toss in the black locust seeds and let them soak for 24 hours first. I had 100% germination that way when I planted seedlings. Osage orange shouldn't need that treatment.

    I'll dig through the trailer to find the seeds and bring them to base camp, and can help plant if it's still underway.
     
    pioneer
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    Going on right now, c'mon down!
     
    Coydon Wallham
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    Upps, it was a short session...
     
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    Max Urbs wrote:I have built a hedge using aki goumi, a great nitrogen fixer with edible berries. It is a little lean on the lower levels, but works well for keeping out deer. So far they have only had nibbles on the leaves and ignore the berries. As a bonus, it is a beautiful shrub.


    I had to look up the term, but "aki goumi" is I believe another name for what is otherwise called Autumn Olive.

    But this got me thinking that densely-planted regular goumi (Eleagnus multiflora) would be an excellent choice for a hedge.  Here are the attributes as I see them:

    1) N-fixer, and so thrives in most any soil type.
    2) Fast grower.
    3) Widely adapted to many climate zones.
    4) Mildly thorny - not as thorny as some species, but I would not want to brush against it were I a cow!
    5) Naturally tends to grow densely, with many stout, crisscrossing trunks and branches.
    6) Highly productive of high-quality fruit.
     
    Catherine Carney
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    I have autumn/russian olive here and, at least with my sheep, it isn't really livestock proof. My Shetlands find it tasty, thorns and all. Of course, they also happily devour multiflora rose, so maybe it would work for other critters.

    One caveat on planting it, though: it's become invasive, at least here in Ohio. I'm not saying it shouldn't be used for fence/fodder/fruit (tasty for humans, BTW)/ N fixing, just that we need to be aware that it may spread and be willing to take steps to contain it.
     
    Kate Medland
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    Catherine Carney wrote:Youtube has a bunch of videos about laying hedge. I've linked to one that was created in England during WW2, but there are plenty of others:  



    Hope it helps.



    Thank you! That was the best, full example of that  process! I'd watched recent videos, but this one was very complete. We still hope to find some on the 'tack down and weave ' methods too, but now I understand this method, and see it's advantages.
     
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    Kate Medland wrote:

    We planted out 45 black locust yesterday.  (Ya, we planted them too close, I know , I know, live and learn).




    They don't look too closely planted to my eye.
    Rather, looks like you plan to harvest every other one for fence poles, garden stakes, or fuel for your rocket stove...  (others might call this "thinning"). 😄
     
    Kate Medland
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    Jeanne Wallace wrote:

    Kate Medland wrote:

    We planted out 45 black locust yesterday.  (Ya, we planted them too close, I know , I know, live and learn).




    They don't look too closely planted to my eye.
    Rather, looks like you plan to harvest every other one for fence poles, garden stakes, or fuel for your rocket stove...  (others might call this "thinning"). 😄



    Thanks! That's kinda what we were thinking.  We need some posts! 😉
     
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    Richard Marula wrote:Elderberry berries are nutritious. Elderberry leaves and twigs are poisonous with cyanide substance. See https://www.eattheweeds.com/elderberries-red-white-and-blue/ . This article by Green Dean even has a recipe for making insecticide from the leaves. So depending on whether you plan to keep animals in or out of the fenced area, elderberry plants may not be a good choice.



    My experience is that my goats ate so much of my elderberry multi stemmed shrub more than 12 feet high now, that I had to build a fence to keep the goats from taking it all.

    That worked.  It kept the elderberry from becoming an ever increasing  thicket.  

    No harm to the goats, and they did consume large amounts.
     
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    Here's an Elaegnus family member that is a sterile hybrid and often used for a hedge. It fruits in spring.
    Here's a copy/paste of my text file on it:

    Elaeagnus × ebbingei hedge plants are fast-growing and can achieve approximately 40-60cm per year. An Oleaster hedge is perfect for heights up to 4m.


    Do not amend the soil before planting because it discourages the shrub's roots from extending beyond the amended area and can cause drainage problems.

    Although highly drought tolerant once established, elaeagnus shrubs need plenty of water during their first season to promote a deep, productive root system. After planting, build a 3-inch-tall soil ring around the outer edge of the shrub's rootball to direct water toward the roots. Fill the watering ring with 2 to 3 inches of mulch to conserve soil moisture.


    Provide roughly 1 inch of water weekly during the first summer, running water until the soil is wet in the top 12 inches. Cool weather decreases the need for water, so check the soil moisture regularly. Only water the plant if it feels dry 2 to 3 inches below the surface.


    http://www.thegardencenter.com/october-plant-of-the-month-elaeagnus/

    Give Elaeagnus ebbingei plenty of space and plant in full sun or partial shade. It can grow to about 6' tall and 4' wide. Other varieties vary in size and some can reach 15' tall

    Elaeagnus also makes small, but very fragrant bell-shaped white flowers in October or November. The flowers are followed by a small orange-red drupe fruit that ripens in spring. These little fruits are also edible!

    This plant is extremely tough. It tolerates poor, rocky soil as well as our Texas heat. It's also very drought tolerant once established and can even tolerate salt and wind for those who want to plant it near the coast.
    Oh yeah, remember that rough, bumpy texture? The deer don't like that and generally leave Elaeagnus alone. Relatively disease and pest free, it's pretty easy to grow; although spider mite can sometimes get after it.


    https://pfaf.org/user/cmspage.aspx?pageid=61

    The plant is very tolerant of site conditions, the only situation that is a definite no-no is one that becomes waterlogged. It far prefers a well-drained soil, is capable of growing in very poor soils and, once established, is very drought resistant and will succeed in quite dry soils. It is as happy in full sun as it is in quite deep shade. It has been seen planted under a line of mature pine trees that had been planted as protection from maritime winds. With the passage of time these pines had lost their lower branches and the wind was funnelling through, causing considerable problems in the garden. Within a few years the Elaeagnus had filled in the gaps, restoring shelter from the winds. Plants have also been successfully established on the top of Cornish drystone walls (these are made with two walls of stone plus a sandwich of soil between them) and then provide a very good wind protection. This is one of those species that is extremely resistant to maritime exposure and salt-laden winds. It can grow right next to the sea and in such a position would give very good wind protection.


    A combination of the very ornamental variegated cultivar Gilt Edge, together with the closely related E. pungens Variegata alongside E. x Ebbingei led to very good yields in a couple of sites.


    E. x ebbingei flowers and fruits most freely on the current year's growth, though it does also produce short fruiting spurs on old wood. If the plants are trimmed in late summer (when being grown as a hedge for example) then you will be removing most of the plant's potential for producing fruit. The simple answer to this is to only trim the hedge in the spring, after harvesting the fruit.


    Too rich a soil.   The very best fruiting forms have been growing under stress, usually caused by poor soil or a site heavily polluted by vehicles etc. It is also fairly common for small plants growing in pots to flower and fruit quite well, but then stop flowering when planted in the open ground. It is quite possible that, when grown in very good conditions the plants see no need to reproduce themselves by seed, putting all their energies instead into vegetative growth.



     
    Luke Mitchell
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    Some more resources/inspiration for laid hedges:

    Westcountry Hedgelayer on Instagram

    And, below, some photos of a freshly laid blackthorn (Prunus, a wild relative of the plum) hedge. It looks pretty rough when you first lay it but in a couple of years it will be thick, dense and full of leaves and thorns. The cut ("pleached") stems will heal over and thicken up too - although some stems will, inevitably, die.

    There are many regional differences in laid hedges here in the UK. In Pembrokeshire, the style is to peg a low hedge almost flat to the bank they are planted on. The style in these photos are more of a Carmarthenshire style (a neighbouring region in West Wales). The most common (and arguably the prettiest) are Midlands hedges, which have a delightful top of braided "binders" that hold the stakes in place.
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    Audrey Carrel
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    Audrey,
      Not only are they not toxic, they are high in protein and minerals.  My goats love them!  After two years which it takes to them to get really established they take off and grow rampant.  Trellis very well, and in fact, I had one climb up into my 15 foot fig tree which grew nearby, which I did not want to happen.  Just prune back some of that rampant growth and feed fresh or dried to your livestock.  



    Fay -

    Thank you!  That is fabulous to learn!  I’m looking forward to pruning and re-planting them on the pasture panel this fall.

    Peace,
    Audrey
     
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    I don't know if they will deter livestock but blackcap raspberries could do a number on people.

    I have found both Osage orange and black locust to grow easily from their collected seeds/leaves.
    Pile them up and they make a compost that feed the emerging seedlings.
    Locust should survive the hedge building process just fine, given how well it recovers from attempts to out right kill it.
    Mulberry is much the same in my experience, as is catalpa.


    If there are otherwise underutilized seedlings and saplings on the land, transplant them to the hedge.
    I am building a micro woodland/hedge barrier between me and a much despised neighbor.
    So far, it is almost completely made up of transplanted trees.
    Almost any tree that isn't desired elsewhere is welcomed.
    Little care is given to them.
    If they survive, they will add to the density of the barrier.
    If they die, they add biomass to the barrier.
    If they get out of line, I cut them back and add the biomass to the barrier.
    If I have biomass I don't have other plans for, I add it to the barrier.
    Last time I checked it was hosting a squash of some sort,  and I will add blackcaps, and grapevines but it's really not about the food.

     
    Catherine Carney
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    "If there are otherwise underutilized seedlings and saplings on the land, transplant them to the hedge."

    William this is a great approach to hedges--I've done much the same with things like hawthorn and mulberries.  I've got plans to add black locust, honey locust, and osage orange seeds to add to the line this fall and might drop in some pawpaws and other edible fruit and nuts...

    One issue I do have here is the tendency of the wildlife (deer mostly, but also woodchucks) to feast on new seedlings. Anyone got a reliable and cost effective deterrent I can try?
     
    Matthew Nistico
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    Catherine Carney wrote:William this is a great approach to hedges--I've done much the same with things like hawthorn and mulberries.  I've got plans to add black locust, honey locust, and osage orange seeds to add to the line this fall and might drop in some pawpaws and other edible fruit and nuts...


    I must say that, at least at first glance, pawpaw seems to me a strange choice for inclusion in a hedge/living fence.  At best, they grow at a glacial rate, which would seem to make them a poor candidate.  Most of the other species suggested in this thread are quick growing, which is apprapo since a living fence is a functional feature - it has a purpose to serve, which it can only serve well once established, and one generally doesn't wish to wait a decade before the planted fence can actually begin to fulfill its function.

    Further, pawpaws require a shady environment in which to get started.  I have quite a few pawpaws on my property.  The ones nestled between copses of trees have grown well, albeit still slowly.  The ones in more exposed locations are, if they still survive at all, barely taller than on the day I transplanted 10 years ago.  A new hedge will not immediately offer them shade until after the neighboring species have grown.  And even then, in many applications, I would suspect that it would still provide a poor habitat for pawpaw - a hedge typically divides fields, which means a lot of sun exposure even once it is well established.
     
    Catherine Carney
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    Hi Matthew: Appreciate your comments on pawpaws. Yeah, they're not the fastest growing species, but for the hedgerow that borders the neighbor's woodlot there's enough shade and good soils that they actually do well. I've got them tucked in on the woodlot side of the hedge, so they're not there so much for livestock containment (the faster growing and thornier species do a much better job of that), but to add diversity (they're a host plant for a species of swallowtail butterfly here in Ohio) and treats for me.

    I've got things like American hazelnuts, beach plums, manchurian cherry, sarvisberry, and crabapples on the sunnier non-livestock sides for similar reasons. I've also added some hardwood tree seedlings (sugar maple, hickory, oak) as shade and food sources for me and the critters. I'm not going for the narrow, laid hedge in most places here, but the wider medieval style hedge that, in addition to containing livestock, served as windbreaks, food, and fuel sources. It's early days yet on this project, so things are subject to change as I figure out what works and what doesn't!

     
    Luke Mitchell
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    This is the same hedge, albeit a different section (mostly hawthorn whereas the other area was mostly blackthorn, Prunus spinosa), after 5 or 6 months of growth. The stakes are turning grey and the stems have put on a lot of leaf and fresh growth. In another year that'll be a thick, stockproof (for sheep, at least!) barrier.

    I've read about Osage orange being used for hedging in the US, as has been mentioned above. The characteristics of a good agricultural hedge species are as follows:

    - Thorny or spiny
    - interweaving growth habit (some species only grow up!)
    - readily suckers or reproduced to gap up any holes without human intervention
    - hardy and not too hungry

    In the UK hawthorn (Craetagnus and Blackthorn are the two most common choices for a planted hedge. Adding roses is common as it adds more spines and also some colour - using a native rose is usually best for supporting wildlife.

    As a hedge ages, volunteer trees and other plants will find their way into the hedge too: honeysuckle, oak, blackberry, hazel, elm, willow, dogwood, Holly, etc. You can actually date a edge by counting the number of species in a 100yd stretch (roughly one per century).

    For ornamental hedges, evergreens such as Holly, yew or box were used.
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    If you try to please everybody, your progress is limited by the noisiest fool. And this tiny ad:
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