A great project for the home gardener with some land is to create a living fence. These are fences made of multiple plants rooted to the ground at a close interval. Pruning keeps the fence attractive and dense. This is the season to research and start such a project.
How to Make a Living Fence
Any plant suitable for use as a hedge would also be a good candidate for a living fence. The number of broad leaf evergreens in the Pacific Northwest gives those of us in Washington some very unique options. You can even consider plantings that have prominent flowers and those that bear fruit. This is an area you can really apply creativity.
You only need to use standard pruning techniques. This is true for both shrubs and trees. You might consider training dwarf fruit trees to form a living wall that will enhance your yard’s privacy and provide beauty and fresh produce. In an espalier (pronounced es-PAL-yay), plants grow along a usually flat, symmetrical framework against a wall, trellis, or freestanding support. Frequent pruning and tying of new growth directs the plants into a decorative pattern such as intersecting diamonds, or horizontal arms or elbows.
Living fences can be constructed in several ways, incorporating a wide variety of plants, and done in an even great area of styles. A well-planned living fence can outlast more traditional manufactured barriers (ask yourself how much a nice wooden fence costs, and how long does it last here in the PNW). It also provides privacy and protection from wind and serves as a haven for wildlife. A living fence can be anything from a simple row of trees to intermingled layers of plant species for a more decorative effect (let your imagination run). The exact composition of each fence will vary according to desired application and setting.
A living fence offers some unique advantages:
- lower cost
- more attractive
- fruit production
- reduces traffic noise
- seasonal foliage variation
- provides a habitat for birds and small animals
- sometimes less restricted by zoning regulations
- can be pruned and sculpted into different shape
My purpose was not to share all of the detail of a how-to, it was to get you to take that same journey of discovery and start using all of the available resources to look at this area.