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Author Topic: Natural hedge growth along fence line?  (Read 4055 times)

sandspider

  • Joined Aug 2015
  • Bristol
Natural hedge growth along fence line?
« on: October 18, 2018, 10:55:11 am »
Hi all

I had a post and stock mesh fence put up in a paddock a year or two ago. It's about 200m long, so too long to hedge myself, but I was wondering if there's any chance that a natural hedge will grow along the fence line before the fence falls down? So far there's bracken and grass, not much else. Paddock is good soil, sloping and south facing, though does get quite wind blasted by Westerlies.

I could put the odd tree or shrub in to bulk it up a bit, but I can't hedge the whole lot. Should I clear the bracken along the fence line (normally I top it within a foot or so of the fence) to give other regeneration a chance, or just leave it to it? Ideally I don't want to have to put another fence in in 15 years time, or sooner! I fear the answer is I won't get much of a hedge without planting one, but hopefully I'm wrong!

Cheers,

SS

Steph Hen

  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Angus Scotland.
Re: Natural hedge growth along fence line?
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2018, 11:22:48 am »
you'll def need to plant and care for your hedge.
Weed suppression (inc. fern and tall grass) is a big issue/cost.
Protection from grazers (deer, livestock, voles, rabbits, hares, etc.) Typically another fence on other side and trees guards.

What might be manageable would be to aim to plant a line of hawthorn, one every 20m this winter with a stake and tree guard. See how they get on with weeds and grazers next growing season, and how well you can tend and water them, with the plan to add another batch of year on year. You'll make a significant difference to the asthetics in a few years time. You could then lay what you have in 10-15 years, but doubt it would be stock proof without quite a bit of patching with posts and dead wood woven in, although the next lay after that might be fine.
I know the current planting for a hedge is something like two staggered lines, one planted every 30cm or something, but there didn't used to be these rules and a hedge was still a hedge.  I laid an older relic hedge, basically a row of hawthorn trees, one every 1-3m and that would have been fairly stockproof at the end of the job and even better a year on. If you can tend to your little trees, they'll grow fast. 
« Last Edit: October 18, 2018, 11:41:25 am by Steph Hen »

bj_cardiff

  • Joined Feb 2017
  • Carmarthenshire
Re: Natural hedge growth along fence line?
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2018, 11:35:35 am »
You really need a separation between two fences to allow any 'hedge' to grow. I have gaps in my hedging that are filled with bramble and the hedge looks pretty solid. What I would do would be to find a willow tree and cut thinnish shoots and push them into the soil and see how many take

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Natural hedge growth along fence line?
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2018, 12:26:45 pm »
Why do you feel you couldn't plant the whole length yourself?  You can get Rootrainer grown saplings which just need a small hole eased open to pop them in and you can take a few years over it.  Mr F planted up a coppice and at least 100m of hedgerow as part of his recovery plan after cancer and major surgery.  It took him a couple of years, starting at one a day then working up to a dozen or so each day over winter.  If it's the cost, then bareroot saplings are surprisingly cheap, but need a bit more work.
However, I think just hoping a hedge will spring up of its own accord isn't going to work.  Woodland will regenerate over time if there are trees in the vicinity to seed themselves, but the timescale is too long for your plan.  For a nice dense hedge, with any chance of being stockproof, you have to plant it and protect it. We use tree guards, but we have never cleared the ground of weeds or used plastic mulch or weedkiller around the saplings - we have found that the fight to overwhelm the weeds seems to make the final trees stronger (as long as you pull out any rank growth around any struggling plants).  You will also need a stockproof fence on both sides of the hedge, about 2-3 metres apart, to allow for the trees to bush out, and to keep grazers away.
When we first started planting up hedges, we began with 50m a year because that was all we could afford, and you can still see the age differences although nearly all are fully grown now.
Also remember that most livestock will pull up or demolish any trees and hedges they can get near, so hoping a hedge will be reliably stockproof is doomed to disappointment.  You really have to do it properly, by planting, protecting and maintaining the trees.



"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

Penninehillbilly

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • West Yorks
Re: Natural hedge growth along fence line?
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2018, 01:30:23 pm »
Only thing I could think of cheap and easy would be to find a willow tree, and (with permission  :) ) take lots of cuttings 12" long, go down the hedge line sticking the spade in as deep as you can, put a cutting in, dollop of water, stamp in, next one. Willow roots so easy most should take. But it will need maintenance.
Early flowering for insects, apparently good for early bees.

sandspider

  • Joined Aug 2015
  • Bristol
Re: Natural hedge growth along fence line?
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2018, 02:30:13 pm »
Thanks all

I've planted around 250 trees over the past year or so, and was hoping not to have to do too many more!!
I suppose planting them ever 10m or whatever would get things going without destroying me. Something spiky like hawthorn is less likely to be nibbled by the sheep and horses that sometimes use the field outside the fence. I'd be planting them inside the fence, probably as close as possible, and there's no stock inside, and touch wood no sign of rabbits or deer yet. (Did see one deer outside the fence). I've planted some of my other trees without protection and they've been fine so far. Though I do have the odd grey squirrel which may be a threat when they're older.

I'd like to lay the hedge too, I find that fascinating.  :thumbsup:

sandspider

  • Joined Aug 2015
  • Bristol
Re: Natural hedge growth along fence line?
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2018, 02:33:18 pm »
Oh, and I do have willow trees so could get cuttings without too much trouble, but they'd probably be more tasty to the neighbours. I could try blackthorn cuttings, plenty of that too!

Steph Hen

  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Angus Scotland.
Re: Natural hedge growth along fence line?
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2018, 03:04:36 pm »
Planting without guards: the problem is it's a 2 minute event any time in first several years of trees life. I thought most of my crab apples could take their chances without guards. I felt rather smug almost a year on in Feb when I checked them and all looked fine. Come April, after that late snow, the majority had been ring barked or chewed to bits and most have died (c.30 trees) :-(

I grafted loads of Apple trees in spring and most looked good - kids footballs, chickens and rabbits did for all but one of them! -the trees are all alive, but I'll have to graft again. I'll never plant without guards again. Fortunately a friend has 100s of big, used guards which he's happy for me to reuse in return for the odd sapling.

Steph Hen

  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Angus Scotland.
Re: Natural hedge growth along fence line?
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2018, 03:07:39 pm »
Sorry forgot to say, grazers garlic concentrate May deter predators.
might be good for trees?

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Natural hedge growth along fence line?
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2018, 05:30:40 pm »
I detest blackthorn.  It suckers and forms a thicket instead of a hedge.  When you scratch yourself on the thorns, the scars take ages to heal (mine took a year).  I think that once you've got it, it needs a whole lot of effort to get rid of when its taking over your land  :tree: :tree: :tree: :tree: :tree: .  Pretty early blossom though.
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

Penninehillbilly

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • West Yorks
Re: Natural hedge growth along fence line?
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2018, 06:12:48 pm »
I agree about blackthorn, coming up out in the field away from the hedge, goats nip it off but little stems are still there.

Black Sheep

  • Joined Sep 2015
  • Briercliffe
    • Monk Hall Farm
Re: Natural hedge growth along fence line?
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2018, 06:56:05 pm »
200m is quite a stretch to do at once but not impossible. I guess it depends whether your limiting factor is time, money or physical effort?

We planted about 80m of new hedging over winter in between a dry stone wall and new stock fence. Put in a mixture of native species at a rate of 7 bare-rooted whips per metre in two offset rows. That is deliberately dense to get a thicker hedge more quickly - you can plant thinner to reduce costs. You can get a 500-whip pack of mixed native species plus canes and spiral guards for about £500 from Hedges Direct. Bigger orders are even lower unit cost.

It took two of us less than two days work to do it start to finish - including slot planting, adding the spiral guards and the cane supports. Despite the freeze and heavy snow and rain that followed the majority have grown on well. We just mulch between them with the waste straw and shavings from the livestock to keep the grass etc down as best we can while they get more established.

Nothing needed apart from a wheelbarrow, spade and bucket.

Backinwellies

  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Sep 2012
  • Llandeilo Carmarthenshire
    • Nantygroes
    • Facebook
Re: Natural hedge growth along fence line?
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2018, 09:24:06 am »
Avoid blackthorn..... unless you want septic splinters !
Linda

Don't wrestle with pigs, they will love it and you will just get all muddy.

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SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Natural hedge growth along fence line?
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2018, 10:39:14 am »
I detest blackthorn.  It suckers and forms a thicket instead of a hedge.  When you scratch yourself on the thorns, the scars take ages to heal (mine took a year).  I think that once you've got it, it needs a whole lot of effort to get rid of when its taking over your land  :tree: :tree: :tree: :tree: :tree: .  Pretty early blossom though.

I love it and hate it in equal measure.  I love the blossom, I adore sloes (and sloe wine is my absolute favourite hedgerow wine), and the spines do help to make it stockproof.

But yes, the suckers are an issue, and if sheep do get into it they get caught and stuck.  And when you need to trim it, you have to be careful to pick up *every* bit, or those thorns cause similarly long-lasting infected sores on the sheepís feet, plus every scrap you donít remove ends up in someoneís fleece causing matting and all kinds of problems if you donít get it out promptly.

Itís an incredibly hard wood too, so can be very useful about the holding.  (I always do criticism in a sandwich of two nice things with the critical bit in between, lol.)
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

sandspider

  • Joined Aug 2015
  • Bristol
Re: Natural hedge growth along fence line?
« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2018, 11:56:55 am »
Thanks boys and girls

I do have some spiral guards left over so could put them on to be on the safe side, and to show where the little trees are...

Limiting factors in order are time, money, physical effort! I hoped a reasonable hedge would seed itself in time, but feared that was optimistic! Doing it in batches yearly / monthly is probably the best way, will have to find a closer nursery as delivery costs for small batches are uneconomic.

I have mixed thoughts on blackthorn too - the thorns are horrible (to fingers), but then again, the thorns are horrible (to stock)! And I do like the blossom and sloes... Maybe I'll go for more hawthorn, don't think I have any currently to take cuttings from.
I don't have stock inside the paddock, and don't intend to soon, so hopefully minimal protection will be enough. I don't really mind if creatures outside the paddock trim the edge they can reach...

 

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