Self-renewing Living Fences

What price would you put on a fences that repaired itself a living fence that sang to you in the morning, reduced the harsh wind, was warm in winter and cool in summer and gave you privacy, trapped silt and improved the soil beneath and gave you mulch?  Not long ago, these resources were common-place.  Hedges were the strong, self-renewing fences of the developed world. Hedges provide a web of habitat for bees, small birds and a myriad of insects including the beneficial insects.

Reasons why hedges have disappeared:

empty-life1. The modern pursuit of perfection has eliminated many of the skills and resources of the Romanticism era. Yet a tidy world is an a truly empty one and many people strive to reconnect with nature.

2. Hedges have died out of use in rural areas due to industrial scale farming machinery. In urban areas it is due to the great population and housing boom pushing out farms on the edges of the cities. Today, few communities can afford the space to reintroduce hedges. They introduce trees because people can walk under and around individual trees.

3. The third reason why hedges have died out of use is the increase in the transmission of invasive species. Hedges in conservation areas can encourage invasive species and can be harder to maintain.

The easy solution is to build living fences that are narrow, strong and acceptably ‘tidy’.  If you have an existing fence, start planting shrubbery along it now. This shrubbery can be pleached together as it grows. You can espalier fruit trees such as fig, apricot, mulberry, pomegranate, brazilian cherry, blueberries, jabuticaba, sage, daisy, hibiscus, carob, olive, tea camellia. If you choose small trees and shrubs you will have less maintenance and low-growing fruit. If you need people-stoppers try thorny lemons, finger-limes, sugar-cane, and other medium height spiky plants. Put low growing or dense edibles at the base ie. Dianella caerulea, Arrowroot, begonia, jerusalem artichokes and lemongrass.

If you don’t have a an existing fence to support and protect your young living fence you can build a woven fence. Use random prunings in the simple weave, make stakes out of strong branches (simply trim any unwanted growth if it occurs) and incorporate the cuttings of the species you want for your living fence beside the strong stakes used in the fence. The woven fence will support and protect your cuttings.