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roadside planting to protect food forest?

 
Linda Kurtz
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I'm a newbie and want to start my apple tree guild this fall as a start on my food forest. I live along a somewhat busy secondary road (40 mph). The property runs along the road.
(read mostly open site lines from the road to the back of the property) I want to design the area along the road (maybe 4-5' deep) to deal with: 1. road run-off -including winter salt 2. car exhaust 3. a visual barrier. There are probably more things I should be thinking about (ie: helping to keep unwanted people and animals out with thorny plantings!) I have some ideas, hoping your ideas will help me flesh them out. I live in zone 5, Ohio. Specific plant types (or families) would be a great help! Thanks so much.

Linda
 
Dale Hodgins
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Roadways often channel contaminants to the ditch. If it's wet enough, cattails can take up lots of rotten stuff. I wouldn't try to grow anything too valuable in any area that might be mowed or sprayed with herbicides. Your first move should be to make some calls to see if any awful gick is being applied. If you agree to keep noxious weeds under control, it may be possible to arrange for them to skip your place.

If you're able to ensure a relatively clean environment, a hot, dry roadside is a great spot for low growing Mediterranean herbs.
 
Landon Sunrich
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Am I getting the picture right that one of the things you'd like to accomplish is 'fencing' in your property?

A 4' hugle (umlauts?) with corn and runner beans planted at its apex would make for a pretty patriotic apex edge line. If you had a good inside slope with a southern face it'd be the perfect place to plant sun loving gourds as well - this would provide a whole bunch of fall and winter food stuffs.

Is their a gradual transition or a cliff to your ditch? Berries (In the PNW I'd use trailing black cap through virtually anything else - perhaps you like raspberries) on the exterior slope from apex would make a great "show off" piece for the cars and a "fuck off" for anyone who didn't want to deal with climbing threw thorns

What sort of daily traffic do you get? By 'secondary road' you mean not a state or federal highway?
 
Landon Sunrich
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As for apple tree guilds that's probably already been subject to some discussion. Depending on the site I might suggest 'root zone prep' with Diakon radish (long tillage radish) and a ground cover of strawberry, green onions, chives, mints, and balms

Edited for punctuation and continuity
 
Ken Peavey
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Down here in Flroida the most common herbicide used along roads is perchloram. This stuff kills all kinds of plants, stays potent for a few years. After a couple more years, they'll spray again, same stuff. Your solution is already out there. Look along the roadside for plants that have been around for a while. There is a pretty good chance that your road guys are spraying the same stuff every few years. Those plants that have been around are there because the have developed some sort of resistance to whatever is being sprayed, plus road salt, plus car exhaust. All you need to do is take a look, do some transplanting, establish a resistant hedgerow.
 
Landon Sunrich
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Himalayan blackberry for instance immediately springs to mind - that is a serious barbed carbon fence which WILL get out of control left to its own devices!
 
John Elliott
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Landon's got the right idea. When they finish the road widening project in front of my property (due to start next year), I'm going to move some blackberries along the new frontage.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1969
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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Sounds like you want something prickly and something tall. I lean toward perennials that are successful and low maintenance

Rosa rugosa grows densely, is prickly, needs little maintenance and babying, has edible fruits and petals, and tolerates salt.

I use goldenrod for a privacy screen in one area. It grows quite densely and tall.
 
Linda Kurtz
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Wow! Thanks for your responses.

Dale- the ditch would go thru a lot of wet/drier cycles. How much dry can cattails take? I like the idea and there are certainly enough cattails around here that are a nuisance that I’m sure I could experiment with them and see if they like my ditch. The roadway is virtually level with my yard so it goes from asphalt to grass. (I plan to dig the ditch alongside the road to capture the runoff) I mow it and I’m pretty sure they don’t spray it, but a quick call to the township will confirm that. But, with all the traffic I want to find ways to block and capture as much of the contamenants as I can.

Landon- You are absolutely right. Blocking the view across my property is in the top 3 reasons to put up a “living fence”. I hadn’t thought of a huglekulture mound – would the toxic ick coming off the township road be a problem once absorbed into the wood? The road side of my mound would be the south facing side- which as I said above does not drop off from the road – they are pretty much level. I live in “ruburbia” – my word for rural suburbia- we have a cornfield (or soybean field depending on the rotation) across the street, but 5 or 6 houses within sight of our house. I’d kind of hate to plant any fruiting bushes on the road side – I don’t particularly want to eat that fruit and any animals it attracted would run a high risk of being hit on the road. So, I’m thinking big thorns, dense habit, fast spreading. Oh, and they need to be able to handle the stuff from the road. I don't ask for much, do I! BTW, Thanks for the apple guild suggestions – I just need to refine my choices. I have 9 or 10 mature apple trees, so I can have some fun with those plantings too. A couple questions about the tree guild – 1. Should I remove all the grass out to the tree line before I plant my understory plants or can I plant a cover crop (maybe vetch) to crowd out the grass? And 2. Should I worry that any mints I plant will get out of control or rely on the chop and drop method to keep them under control?

I told y’all – I’m a newbie!

So, in addition to Himalayan blackberry what other specific bushes might do well for the hedgerow?

Thank you for your input – I’ve got this picture of a berm or huglekulture mound with a dense covering of bushes that will stop a lot of the road pollution and most 2 and 4 legged creatures.

Linda

 
Linda Kurtz
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Matu: You said: Rosa rugosa grows densely, is prickly, needs little maintenance and babying.

Do you now if Rosa rugosa is the same as wild rose, which is wild in its habit and has great rose hips?

Linda
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1969
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
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It is a wild rose great rose hips. It has lots of common names, beach rose being one because it can tolerate the salt.

There are other wild roses. This one is not native here, so the purists don't plant it. Still, it has a lot of fine qualities.

It seems like something you're concerned about its chemicals from the farm across the way? Or is it just the road exhaust?
 
Linda Kurtz
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Matu-

Yes, I am concerned about the chemical clouds drifting my way from the farm across the street. (We end up closing windows and doors when we see the ick truck roll in) Can't do that for the yard though. Is Multiflora rose the same as Rosa Rugosa? maybe it doesn't really matter- my multiflora's seem to have the same characteristics and habit. Worse case scenario - I plant them, they don't do well, I chop them down!

 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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check out my blog below. I planted a lot of mixed fast growing evergreens along my road beyond the right of way and planted the right of way with wildflowers..the evergreens grew very fast and very thick, so mostly people can't see our house..I also have allowed "bird plantings" to grow up in and through the evergreens, so I now have grapes, woodbine vines, trumpet vines, honeysuckle, roses, autumn olives and other things growing up and in the hedgerow.

it is alive with wildlife

my fruit trees are planted in front of, beside and behind our house in mixed beds (food forest beds)..and then we have a heavily wooded area behind that
 
Linda Kurtz
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Brenda,
I've seen your messages so often in the forum, now that I've visited your blog I feel like I know you! And I realized that some time back I stumbled across your blog, just didn't realize it til I read you bio. I'm not sure why, but the photos in your blog have helped me see that I just need to START. Just one tiny step forward at a time. I think I get planning paralysis! So, while I'm waiting on a friends son to move some dirt for me for the berm/hugleculture bed along the road, I will continue to plan. More importantly, I will start planting my first apple tree guild - TONIGHT. I've realized that I have a lot of plants that I want in my guild already on the property - waiting patiently for me to get myself in gear. So, tonight (see - if I tell everybody then I HAVE to do it) I'll plant daffadils along the drip line, comfrey under it and see how many of my roadside finds are still alive!
I grabbed some chickory just before the township mower took it down! I also have lots of garlic chives, walking onions, nettles, the list goes on.

So, the first thing is to JUST DO IT! Thanks everybody for your insights and motivation!

Linda
 
Sean Banks
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Bamboo will completely screen your house from the road....you would not even be able to see it once it gets going.....also if the road crew do chop it down it will grow back within a month maybe less.
 
Linda Kurtz
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Thanks for the suggestion Sean. I'm hoping to get some clumping bamboo this fall (Oh, wait - its already fall! I guess I mean soon!) I hadn't thought about putting it along the road bacause the folks at the bamboo store (can't remember their name) suggest clumping bamboo needs some shade and along the roadside is full sun all day. I really hesitate to do running bamboo, I've heard too many horror stories!

Brenda- I got the apple tree guild started last night with some bulbs (bought some more today) an Iris and some comfrey I had started. Yeah!

Linda
 
Dave Hunt
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Location: NJ
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Hi Linda,
It sounds like we are in similar scenarios. I live on a 50 mph county road in zone 6. I second the hugel mound idea but here is what I did...What I did about 3 years ago when I bought the place was plant 2 rows of alternating cedar and blackberries. The cedar was only 1 foot tall at planting and now are getting closer to making a visual barrier from the road. Some are at 3 ft but they still have a long way to go to shield us from the road. At planting I knew it was a long term project so I used inexpensive seedlings purchased from the state forestry department. Both the cedar and the blackberries are doing fairly well being only 10 feet off the road, salt, car exhaust, etc.
Long story short is the plantings will eventually block the direct visual of the road, unfortunately they will do nothing for noise. Since I live on a county road I often get trucks passing by. The road also has a decline followed by a slight curve which prompts some air brake noise from time to time. So my plan either this winter or spring is to create a large berm (possibly hugel style) to block some of the road noise. Depending on how much room you have in between your house and the road this might be a good option. I have about 200 ft in between my road and the house so I was going to try to make as big of a berm as I can, maybe close to 10 feet tall. Depending on how much road frontage and if you have access to any equipment a big hugel mound might be your best bet.
 
Linda Kurtz
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Dave,
Thanks for the reply. I haven't gotten as far as I'd like on the roadside project this fall, but your ideas help shape the mental picture of what I want to do. Of course, the paper comes back out, the drawing gets tweaked, AGAIN, and my brain keep percolating with ideas. I love the idea of having berry bushes on the indside of the berm. I need to find out what the ROW along the road is first, and maybe what chemicals the township uses. Since I'm in zone 5, I have some down time to plan and get my supplies together. Maybe do a little prep work.

Linda
 
John Polk
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Before I would invest a lot of time and money into a roadside project, I would need to investigate several factors.

* What Right-Of-Way do the Highway Dept./Power companies have?
* What does the Highway Dept/Power company use for controlling 'weeds' and other growth?

Most highway depts have a 'setback' requirement (for future expansion?) that cannot be violated - legally, it is 'theirs' (even though you pay the property taxes on it). A ditch dug alongside the road would probably be prohibited, and a huge legal liability. If a passing auto hit that ditch, and crashed, guess who would be liable? Even if somebody just pulled over to change a flat tire, or whatever. Likewise, a large berm would probably need to be beyond any right-of-way they had. The time and expense of moving it 25 feet closer to the house could be much higher than its initial cost.

"Look before you leap." Or, at least know where you stand before investing time/money.

 
Mike Dayton
Posts: 149
Location: sw pa zone 5
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I had a similar problem when the power company clear cut about 60 feet along the road and opened up my back yard to a clear view from the road. I like in SW Pa in a similar Zone to yours. They sprayed Tardon on the stumps so they would not grow back. I am up a bank from the road. I planted decorative grass that I got for free, it grows about 6 feet tall and then has a plum that is about another foot. I planted the grass 3 feet apart and it gets about 3' wide so I expect it to fill in. It dies back in the spring and has to be cut down, so there is a time when it does not protect the view. Behind that a few feet I planted Butterfly Bush. It grows about 6' to 8' high so I have no problem with the power lines. I planted them close enough so that they too should grow together and block the view. The grass was for instant gratification, the butterfly bush is for beauty, wind break, and Butterflies. Behind that[ I am now maybe 10' off the road I planted Almond, and Hazelnuts They are both short, maybe 12 to 15 feet high, like I said, the over head wires are a Big concern at this location. I can fill in around the butterfly bushes with flowers, I have a visual screen, I have no worries about road salt or chemicals, and I have a Beautiful flowering shrub that attracts Butterfies. I am sure there are other plants, and other options you can pick from. I felt this one worked well for me.
 
Linda Kurtz
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Gentlemen,
Thanks for the replies. Lots to think about and check out. Liability is also an issue, of course. If I don't install a culvert of any sort, but create a berm just on my side of the
ROW, that will slow the water down enough for any plantings to help absorb chemicals from the runoff. An excess can be channeled into a "holding bed" I love the idea of planting some fast growing bushes to screen the view quickly, while the slower growing bushes have a chance to fill in. One way or another we'll lick the problem!

Linda
 
John Polk
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A plant that has many uses - including being tolerant to salty soils is Sea-Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides ).
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippophae_rhamnoides

It is drought tolerant, stands poor soils, fixes nitrogen, is great on steep slopes, and produces an edible berry.
The berries are quite astringent, and often mixed with sweeter juices. Extremely high in vitamin C.
The plant is very thorny, making it difficult for humans to harvest. Birds, on the other hand love the fruits, which stay on the bush all winter (hardy to zone 3). Some consider it to be an invasive, partially due to all of the seeds that the birds poop around the neighborhood all winter.

The plant also has many medicinal properties, and its high oil content is utilized for many body creams and other applications.

Sea-buckthorn is deciduous, so it will lose its leaves each winter, but once mature, the many branches & berry clusters still make a dense obstruction to both sight and sound. Think a dense row planted on each side of the berm, about half way up from the bottom.

If your property is fairly level, a 4' berm will be just about eye-level for passing motorists.
Anything growing above that is just icing on the cake.

 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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