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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan. 9, 2006
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    Maryland
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    380

    Default Living Fences anyone?

    We've been tossing around the idea of fencing in the pasture around our house with a living fence/hedgerow. The goal would be an impenetrable hedge that would contain sheep and horses and make our yard look comfortable. The current pasture is 3 acres, and I think a board or split rail fence would make the yard look cluttered. Currently, we have high tensile, which is not very attractive.

    Do any of you have pictures, links or other information about plant materials, design guidelines, etc?

    TIA



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan. 10, 2006
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    Clemson, SC
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    868

    Default

    I've never had a living fence so I can't really comment, but typically anytime I've seen something like that with the purpose of containing animals, some kind of 'real' (wire, etc) fence is used with it. The hedges just hide the fence.
    A lovely horse is always an experience.... It is an emotional experience of the kind that is spoiled by words. ~Beryl Markham



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb. 16, 2003
    Location
    MI USA
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    8,625

    Default

    You might PM Thomas, they have had "hedgerow" fences in the UK for many years. He could tell you how successful they actually are. I know some of the trees they use have ENORMOUS thorns, which could damage animals or maybe they don't challenge the trees.

    I do not believe you can get such a fence in place quickly. Could be the labor of years! They do need attention to shape and get the branching going the way you need it. Regular trimming.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct. 28, 2007
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    NY
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    Default

    One place I boarded used a tractor to pile dead trees and brush into a corner that they couldn't/would't hot wire.
    It worked, but it was about 10 feet deep and really kind of messy. It was for only one corner, and it would have been an eyesore if they tried it elsewhere. I think it acted as a people barrier as well.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    May. 4, 2003
    Location
    Canada
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    18,111

    Default

    Hedgerows serve useful purposes as they provide wildlife refuge and are more natural than fences or wire. The ones in UK are pretty old but have been maintained by skilled labour. Where there is a weak spot, there is a process called cut and lay, where an upright stem is partially severed and laid down where it will put out roots and all the side branches are now pointing upwards. Then other branches are woven through these and it grows in thicker.



  6. #6
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    Jul. 14, 2003
    Location
    Rhode Island
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    Default

    Is it blackthorn????



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan. 27, 2002
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    7,495

    Default

    i'm considering this as well, since i have a dozen or more acres of steeply and heavily wooded land to fence.
    so far my plan is to cut trees along and near the fence line, cut those trees into cordwood and stack the cordwood four feet high between the remaining trees -if that makes any sense. i'll then plant some heavyily thorned trees along that fence line. hopefully the stacked cordwood and adjacent thorn trees will deter moose and deer from crashing through the fence line someday.
    as the cordwood deteriorates, the thorny trees will grow bigger and hopefully intertwine to become a good barrier someday.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    May. 29, 2008
    Location
    England
    Posts
    35

    Default

    http://s47.photobucket.com/albums/f1...=Photo0015.jpg

    http://s47.photobucket.com/albums/f1...=Photo0015.jpg

    Here are some links to the hedgerows on our farm winter and summer. These are well established, probably over 30 years old and are very thick. I don't know what sort of hedge they are, maybe hawthorn and whatever kind grow blackberries and sloes all mixed in together. They are an excellent way to fence off a field and they also provide a good home for wildlife.

    Our farmer doesn't really maintain ours anymore so we have to regularly inspect for holes and sharp branches growing out, and also have to pull up seedlings as it tries to encroach on their pasture because these can cause injury to horses believe or not. We have had to block sections off with electric fencing to stop the horses pushing through but it is nice



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan. 9, 2006
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    380

    Default

    Great, thank you all. Yes, I'm thinking it's the same type of growing situation as Foxtrot mentions.

    In Maryland there is a company planting such a fence on a horse farm in Baltimore county. Google doesn't seem to bring up the company and I cannot seem to find the main hedgerow website.

    From what I understand, the trees are planted very, very close together and when they get to be about 10-15' high they are bent/cut and fastened to some sort of fence to "train" them into the hedgerow growth pattern. It's a thought provoking concept.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov. 2, 2001
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    In Jingle Town
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    Default

    See if you can get a hand on 'the self sufficient life' by John Seymour lots of stuff among others, hedges, planting and maintaining. not in depth, but useful.

    BUT when you go that route, check with the county extention: some popular plants for this type of deal are not legal to plant in some areas as they host dangerous fungi and viruses and rust that harm economical relevant crops.

    he plant needs to be pretty thorny, which is a major downside when having to do maintanance.
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  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan. 16, 2002
    Location
    West Coast of Michigan
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    Default

    My only thoughts would be that the proportion for a 3 acre paddock might look odd--a thick, tall hedgerow would dwarf anything but a LARGE pasture, visually. Also, it can take years and years for something like that to get to the point of usefulness.

    And varmints--be prepared for varmints.
    Click here before you buy.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    May. 21, 2008
    Location
    Sonoma County, California
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    Default

    Hi,

    I got a lot of information on hedgerow planting from the University of California at Davis. Google "uc davis hedgerow" and you will find some articles that are helpful. There is quite a bit online. You might also check with your county ag extension office for info on what specific plants are good for your region.

    I spent some time riding horses in England, and the thing I remember best from that experience is the massive hedgerows! They seemed to grow up and around the old stone walls the farmers had built from stone pulled from their fields. They provide habitat for wildlife (that includes things like skunks and raccoons and coyotes, so think ahead and don't put a hedgerow next to your chicken coop!) and are teeming with life, and pretty much impenetrable!

    We built a fence and planted a hedgerow on the outside of it using "shed eating" (really vigorous climber) roses as our main planting, then we added a number of other hardy perennials. I used a kind of rose called 'Sally Holmes' that blooms constantly and thrives on abuse. The other rose is 'Madame Alfred Carriere' which is an heirloom climber and extremely hardy and a huge grower. Only 2.5 years later, the fence is completely covered with a thicket of roses that's 10 feet high and 6 feet deep. You can get a pretty vigorous hedgerow going in about 3 years, I think. I'm inspired by our small hedgerow experiment of ours and have plans to create a 400' long one along another fenceline.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul. 27, 2005
    Location
    Mississippi
    Posts
    3,062

    Default

    Plenty on line from UK sources.

    http://www.ruralni.gov.uk/print/inde...e_planting.htm

    http://www.hedgelink.org.uk/index.php?id=22

    http://www.hedgelaying.org.uk/styles.htm Great site!

    Looks like you need some type of barrier. I have thought of this as well but frankly it looks like a lot of work and although my gelding would stay behind twine my mare would not hesitate to go through thorns or dense brush if grass was on the other side.

    BTW, I have two acres fenced with post and rail stained brown and I don't think it looks cluttered.
    Last edited by MSP; May. 1, 2009 at 11:48 AM.
    No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle. ~Winston Churchill



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct. 2, 2007
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    Beyond the pale.
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    2,957

    Default

    3 acres does not really lend itself to hedgerow fencing as the hedgerow has to be thick enough and obnoxious enough to contain the horses. It is better for larger areas where the horses are less likely to challenge it. I have blackberry and hawthorn hedgerows at the back and one side of my 3 acre piece- they've been there 30 years. Two neighbours have now removed the hedgerow on our mutual fencelines, so I had to build real fencing. Yes, they removed the blackberry fencing on MY land while I wasn't looking. A$$h@ts. But they thought they were doing me a favour by taking away the "noxious" and invasive blackberries. Hell! Why do you think the English settlers brought blackberry over? Plus the fruit is wonderful and I routinely picked gallons every summer and froze them for pies and smoothies. Not this year. sigh. Blackberry, will however, if trained and watered, grown into a 10 foot high fence in 2 years though.
    "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar. 4, 2004
    Location
    Louisville, KY
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    4,060

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Watermark Farm View Post
    Hi,

    We built a fence and planted a hedgerow on the outside of it using "shed eating" (really vigorous climber) roses as our main planting, then we added a number of other hardy perennials. I used a kind of rose called 'Sally Holmes' that blooms constantly and thrives on abuse. The other rose is 'Madame Alfred Carriere' which is an heirloom climber and extremely hardy and a huge grower. Only 2.5 years later, the fence is completely covered with a thicket of roses that's 10 feet high and 6 feet deep. You can get a pretty vigorous hedgerow going in about 3 years, I think. I'm inspired by our small hedgerow experiment of ours and have plans to create a 400' long one along another fenceline.
    That sounds really lovely; do you have any pictures?

    There is a farm around here that has No Climb fencing with a leafy vine of some sort covering it (I think probably more than one kind of vine...some of it even flowers and looks sort of like Honeysuckle). The vine is really thick...you can't even see the fence in most places. I think that type of fence would be much more doable than the hedge type. For a front yard situation, I think it would look great to have the fence bordering the driveway covered in vines/roses and leave the rest regular fence (less to maintain that way). Update with pics if you decide to do it!

    Caitlin
    Caitlin
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  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb. 28, 2006
    Location
    The rocky part of KY
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    Default

    My landlord, the cheapskate, fenced in the property of the house we rented for his sheep,which he bought so he wouldn't have to mow, about 2 acres, and tried to save money by using the vegetation, which was blackberries on one property line and willow trees/cottonwoods/alder on the other as his fence.. The homeowner with the willows cleared out his back yard and wound up with the sheep in his front yard.
    Boy was he mad.

    The blackberries held out better but we had to use scrap lumber wedged sideways in some spots - some of that was overenthusiastic berry pickers, not so much the sheep.

    Hedgerows do take up a lot of space. Those blackberries were easily fifteen feet across and six or seven feet tall, and they still needed some sort of solid barrier as a core because small dogs (and enthusiastic berry pickers) could make their way through. If the blackberry neighbors had cleared to their property line then the thicket would have been far less able to hold the sheep, or the landlord would have had to sacrifice yet more of the pasture to the vines. At any rate we had to maintain the fence, since we lived there and were the first to feel the neighbors' wrath, didn't want to have to deal with loose livestock, etc., and the berries and where he tried to fasten to trees and neighbor's fences were the problem areas. Just remembering having to deal with all that makes me mad - but I am sure that if you approach it correctly when installing and maintaining it will give you privacy and security. And maybe even yummy berries.
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
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  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul. 30, 2005
    Location
    England
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    10,966

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    Quote Originally Posted by goodhors View Post
    You might PM Thomas, they have had "hedgerow" fences in the UK for many years. He could tell you how successful they actually are. I know some of the trees they use have ENORMOUS thorns, which could damage animals or maybe they don't challenge the trees.

    I do not believe you can get such a fence in place quickly. Could be the labor of years! They do need attention to shape and get the branching going the way you need it. Regular trimming.
    I have a hawthorn hedge on my land. It's been there for at least twenty years, maybe more. The thorns are pretty impressive!

    It gets laid every winter, to keep it tidy. I do have hot wire in front of it to keep the beasties in though! The horses don't seem to bother the hedge at all- I have caught them snacking on it a few times though!

    It grows really quickly too, which is nice, and attracts insects/birds, if you're interested in that.
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  18. #18
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    Aug. 11, 2008
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    MD
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by RedMare01 View Post
    That sounds really lovely; do you have any pictures?

    There is a farm around here that has No Climb fencing with a leafy vine of some sort covering it (I think probably more than one kind of vine...some of it even flowers and looks sort of like Honeysuckle).
    Caitlin
    What you're describing sounds like virginia creeper. Stuff is impossible to kill. Has beautiful trumpet shaped reddish/orange flowers, but around her most people think of it as a royal PITA.
    Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
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  19. #19
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    Mar. 25, 2008
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    Goshen NY
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    Default Hay

    We're in the north east and are plagued with those wild rose bushes. One half of the property is thick, 10 - 15 feet thick of those things. You couldn't get through if you tried. They are pretty gnarly but also rather messy looking. Our pasture is 15 acres so the far corner...not one can see it anyway. These rose bushes are horrible and grow everywhere but there is not one horse that will try to get even near them.

    Again might be too messy for 3 acres.
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  20. #20
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    May. 4, 2003
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    Canada
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    Like anything from 'olden tyme' it is labour intensive - nice as a haven for wildlife, but the thorns and work would put me off - not that I don't think they are super for hunt country and traditional look. Blackberries are a bane, and would have to be removed, etc. or it would get swamped. Takes me back to little English villages with primroses growing under the hedges in the spring and the little narrow winding roads.

    When we moved here (30 years ago) an old privet hedge was overgrown, had holes in it, and trunks as thick as my wrist. After the neighbour's cows walked through it we set about working on it. First the thick trunks were cut out because they had no sideshoots. Then the medium to fine trunks were selectively thinned and some were sliced at the base about 1/4 through and bent over sideways and woven into the rest of the hedge. The side shoots then grew up and over time it has grown into a very solid beautiful hedge that is very little work to maintain. It is so dense and low to the ground that the weeds do not grow there, or hardly at all. Just shave it a bit once or twice a year. Incidentally, the neighbour gave us a goose because he felt so bad about his cows invading my garden.

    It is different from a hedgerow because it is all privet, and hedgerows are mixed trees and shrubs.



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