Unlike traditional fencing, living fences utilize shrubs, trees, and tall plants to create a fencing effect. Acting as a natural barrier, a living wall complements gardens and lawn spaces while preserving the natural scenery of your garden. A living fence can be made from an informal hedgerow or carefully trained plants that grow on top of hidden platforms and awnings.
Living Fences Versus Traditional Fencing
One of the main benefits of a living fence is that it does not take away from the scenery in your back and front yard, complementing the landscape. However, there is usually a bit of upkeep with living fences since they are essentially living plants that were placed or trimmed in such a way to create a barrier.
Man-made barriers are more permanent and do not require as much maintenance. Traditional fencing is also ideal if you want a protective barrier on your home or entryways. Densely grown living fences can be used as a deterrent to prevent neighbors or people looking into the home at the street level. They can also be used to hide unattractive features of your home, with many homeowners using a living fence to cover up the compost pile or garden equipment.
Plants Used in a Living Fence
Shrubs are a popular living fence, as they are hardy and grow densely. Many shrubs can be trained to intertwine with each other, creating something akin to a wall. Since they are relatively low, they can be used to signal an entryway. Once grown out, shrubs can be pruned into distinct shapes. Alternatively, they can be left to their own devices, creating a more natural boundary.
Shrubs can be planted with each other, or specific types of shrubs like holly bushes can be used as a lone plant to create a barrier. Blueberry shrub and the Butterfly Bush plant are flowering shrubs that can be used to augment the aesthetics of living fences.
For taller plants to block the view from neighbors, then evergreens may work well for that purpose. There are many options when it comes to using evergreens as a living fence.
Leyland cypress and emerald green arborvitae are commonly chosen due to their thick foliage and vibrant green colors. Evergreens are different to deciduous plants – where deciduous plants lose their foliage in the cooler months; evergreens will stay green all year long. This means that your living fence will live throughout the winter months.
Depending on the size of your property, you can also use low growing trees to create a privacy screen. Osage orange is a tree traditionally used as a type of fencing before the proliferation of barbed wire. Also called the hedge apple, osage orange are extraordinarily hardy, withstanding heatwaves as well as plummeting temperatures.
Osage orange should be used on your property’s perimeters, as their sharp thorns can help deter deer that will nibble on your garden plants. Bear in mind that trees like the osage orange used as a living fence will only grow a couple of feet tall, but will require regular hard pruning to ensure that it stays small throughout its life.
Even though living fences could be a beautiful addition to your green spaces, there are some factors that you need to be aware of. Living walls are still plants, and their requirements should be acknowledged, especially when they are first planted and trying to establish themselves on the new soil. The location of the living fence, as well as its exposure to daylight hours will ensure that the living fence grows properly and continue to provide shelter and shade for years to come.