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hedge plants - for a living fence and coppicing or laying a hedge

 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Note: on 2/23/15 I edited the subject line of this to better explain that we're wanting to plant a living fence, with coppicing trees that can be woven into a living fence ala the English "laying a hedge."

Following our plan to focus on food systems and aesthetics in 2015, we are planning hedge plantings inside our rock jack fencing, which will be inside the existing, decomposing barbed wire fencing.

Considering that we are in USDA hardiness zone 4 (or 5 sometimes), this is the list we've compiled so far:

common name - botanical name - feature
thornless honeylocust - gleditsia triacanthos inermis - thorns, n-fixer
black locust - robinia pseudoacacia - thorns, n-fixer
hawthorn - crataegus (which one?) - thorns, pollinator, medicinal
black thorn/sloe gin - prunus spinosa - thorns, fruit
osage orange/hedge apples - maclura pomifera - thorns, hardwood
russian olive - eleagnus angustifolia - thorny, n-fixer, fruit
autumn olive - eleagnus umbellata - thorny, n-fixer, fruit
hornbeam - carpinus - "ironwood"
hazelnut - corylus americana? - nuts
black (red, white) mulberry - morus nigra - fruit

We're thinking all of these will coppice well and have woody enough stems to do hedge laying.

Threads that helped us come up with this list:
http://www.permies.com/t/39662/woodland/Steve-Transforming-Hedge
http://www.permies.com/t/38487/plants/hedge-laying-permaculture
http://www.permies.com/t/29975/forest-garden/Food-hedges

Thoughts?
Additions?
 
Eric Thompson
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Sea buckthorn: thorny N fixer that seems to lay itself quite nicely
Gooseberry/golden currant: lowest level spreading, and just thorny enough to not get eaten

It looks like you will pollard the tops of the black locust and mulberry? You may want to avoid blackberry that can climb into these and make maintenance difficult.

A few more from NRCS guidelines:
Many native Montana shrubs are suitable for hedges and enhance wildlife habitat. These include
American chokecherry (Prunes virginianus),
black hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii),
red-osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera),
serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia),
Rocky Mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum),
wild rose(Rosa woodsii),
willow (Salix species).

 
paul wheaton
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Just to be clear, there are many types of hedges and the type of hedge we wish to create is something that will keep animals in. Something that you grow for two or three years and then do this:



So in order to pull this off, it must be a tree with a central leader and not a shrub. It must also be a coppicing species. Non-coppicing species just wouldn't work here.

It seems that thorns could be wise to keep animals from testing it too much.

Any food production would be a secondary feature.

We decided to not put sea buckthorn, for example, on the list because my impression is that it is a shrub and not a tree. You could, indeed, make a decorative hedge, but it would not do well in keeping animals in or out.

 
Dan Boone
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Osage Orange coppices extremely well (at least here on the edge of its original range). Just try and stop it! If you stump an established tree it sends up a bunch of vertical shoots (last summer's were four to six feet long and finger-thick) with many, many, MANY short but painful thorns.

Left alone the tree never makes any shoots that straight; they begin to curl and droop and curve back to earth at about human face height.

All that said, I can't see how you could do the hand work to weave a tight hedge without suffering a lot of pain and blood loss. Maybe a set of good motorcycle riding leathers would help, but I'd have to see it done to believe it.

Edit to say: Pain or no pain, Osage Orange was widely used for hedging before the invention of barbed wire, and it was said to make a hedge "horse-high, bull strong, and hog-tight." Either there's a bloodless method of doing it, or people were just a lot tougher than me back in the day and budgeted for the blood and pain (which would be my suspicion).
 
paul wheaton
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I think hedge stuff is the smart thing to do on a really cold day when you are already layered in leather and thick material.
 
David Livingston
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Hawthorn - is the stuff for laying hedges the rest of the trees just come along for the ride I think that hedge is in a southern England style , there are different styles in different parts of the UK . Usually hazel rods are used for the stakes .There was a chap in the UK got his PHd from working out how old a hawthorn hedge was by looking at the number of species were living in it .There are some hedges in England now thought to be over a thousand years old.
Its traditionally winter work in the UK .
I would suggest a combination of hedge ditch and mound to keep deer out .

David
 
Dan Slee
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paul wheaton wrote:Just to be clear, there are many types of hedges and the type of hedge we wish to create is something that will keep animals in. Something that you grow for two or three years and then do this:



So in order to pull this off, it must be a tree with a central leader and not a shrub. It must also be a coppicing species. Non-coppicing species just wouldn't work here.

It seems that thorns could be wise to keep animals from testing it too much.

Any food production would be a secondary feature.

We decided to not put sea buckthorn, for example, on the list because my impression is that it is a shrub and not a tree. You could, indeed, make a decorative hedge, but it would not do well in keeping animals in or out.



Really like the idea you guys are putting together for long term hedges that serve many uses. From your species list, and the post with the picture of a traditional hedge after maintenance/setup, I'm guessing you guys are going to establish the non-thorny base hedge first and then reinforce with thorny species later on? Just seems like asking for a whole lot of trouble down the line if you start out with that amount and prevalence of thorny species, especially when doing maintenance or establishment of the hedge. Also, you are going to be cutting into the benefits of having feed available to the livestock from the hedge, which sure is a great benefit once they are established well and thriving.

Would love to hear more about the plan and expectations, great thread
 
R Scott
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Putting shrubs in between the main structure trees helps fill in the holes to make it piglet tight (which is harder than hog tight), adds to the windbreak potential, and can be food for you or BEES!

I didn't do the bloom timing math, but you should try to add bee fodder to supplement any dearth times.
 
Ty Morrison
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My goats feed on the Siberian Elm hedge I planted the elms to the outside of a chain link fence around their pasture. I do have to use a hedge trimmer to control height (I want to see into the pasture) The goats eat everything they can reach, and the cuttings go to the goats as well reducing my need for outside feed...I am only using 1/3 acre for pasture, urbanish setting. Elms wer fence height in two years. My Hawthorn has never really impressed me with robust growth in the semi-shady location I have to deal with. Black Locust seems to grow pretty good and is extremely thorny, but that doesn't seem to phase my goats, thus the chain link fence.

Bottom line: who is going to be on each side of the hedge? My goats would eat the bark off of anything except Ailanthus (Sumac) and no way am I ever going to plant more of that!
 
Celeste Solum
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I can't recall which one but BBC had a series on farming in the 1600-1700's and they would use living hedges/fences and waddle them with flexible trees such as alder, but it can be anything really. It was fascinating.
 
John Kirbde
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I know your zone is a bit different, but here in Hawaii we use Natal Plum. It grows well, has thorns, is drought tolerant, grows thick, and produces food. Love using hedges as barriers.
 
Celeste Solum
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John,

That was the concept. In Washington, we used blackberry, but here there not as many native options. One might have to plant the barrier and let it grow.
 
Kurt Stailey
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Hello, long time lurker, first post

We use Osage Orange as a hedge and many other things on our farm, here are the pros/cons as we have experienced them:

1. It grows very fast, as mentioned coppices very well (cut all the way to the ground and it will be 4 or 5 feet tall the following year).
2. It burns very well. Arguably the hottest wood in North America (around 30 million BTU per cord) For comparison Hickory is around 25 million.
3. You can trim it back to a near vertical wall on the animal side of the hedge and use all those small pieces in your RMH.
4. Goats enjoy eating the leaves.
5. *If* you need to thin out larger stuff, it makes great fence posts, will last decades.
6. it will twist itself into a gnarly mess of a hedge, it doesn't need anything in the way of weaving. You cannot drive a truck through a mature hedge.
7. One of the best woods for making a longbow (still in progress but on the to do list)
8. The hedge apples may be a natural insect repellant (maybe an old wives tale, we have tested it with mixed results)

But there are cons:

1. You will tear your clothes and you will bleed messing with this stuff. I think there must also be something on the thorns, its more painful than it should be for the wound you get.
2. No animal we have found yet will eat the hedge apples, even after becoming over ripened and falling apart.
3. It eats chainsaw teeth, plan to sharpen often while thinning/trimming it.
4. You will need to either pick up hedge apples and move them to where you want a hedge to be, or mow the boundary of your hedge regularly, it spreads otherwise and can out grow most other species. Once per year we walk the hedges and throw all the apples into the hedge in case they germinate so we contain the growth.

Overall we like having it around in areas where we can use its strengths, with the added bonus that maintaining it gives us awesome firewood and the animals take care of the leaves.

--Kurt


 
Giselle Burningham
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Great discussion .... My experience with hedges is being very careful with the species, you don't want hard work of re weaving the hedge 30 years later when you are less physically able to do it. Hawthorn is easy to coppice, a good uk hedge has at least 5 other plants in it, usually self seeded and lasts hundreds of years. But they all need maintenance. Some farmers use a tractor trimmer to fix them up...but it is easy to injure bird life this way. The best is to weave it, but it takes two strong people weeks to re weave the hedges. All I am saying is how are you going to maintain the hedges when you are 70 / 80 years old ? Just a thought? Giselle
 
Dan Boone
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Awesome first post, Kurt! Be welcome.

Everything Kurt says is consistent with my experience and research except for this one little thing:

Kurt Stailey wrote:
2. No animal we have found yet will eat the hedge apples, even after becoming over ripened and falling apart.


Here they are heavily used as winter fodder for deer (who hang out under the trees munching up the fruit) and squirrels (who sit at the base of the tree or in a crotch of the tree and methodically shred the fruit for the (human-edible, fairly tasty, ridiculously-hard-to-separate-from-the-flesh) sunflower-like seeds. Horses also love them, to the point that the local name for the fruit and the trees is "horse apple". Here is my photographic evidence of horses loving them; when the neighbor's horse got loose he made a beeline for our yard to start feeding on them.


horse-apples.jpg
[Thumbnail for horse-apples.jpg]
escaped neighbor horse eating osage orange fruit in my yard
 
Deb Rebel
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Mermaid rose. Thorny, will make a mound and take over the universe, and blooms. Nasty thornage. Just if you want to add some bloom to your hedgeage....
 
Kevin MacBearach
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[quote=J

Considering that we are in USDA hardiness zone 4 (or 5 sometimes), this is the list we've compiled so far:

common name - botanical name - feature
thornless honeylocust - gleditsia triacanthos inermis - thorns, n-fixer
black locust - robinia pseudoacacia - thorns, n-fixer
hawthorn - crataegus (which one?) - thorns, pollinator, medicinal
black thorn/sloe gin - prunus spinosa - thorns, fruit
osage orange/hedge apples - maclura pomifera - thorns, hardwood
russian olive - eleagnus angustifolia - thorny, n-fixer, fruit
autumn olive - eleagnus umbellata - thorny, n-fixer, fruit
hornbeam - carpinus - "ironwood"
hazelnut - corylus americana? - nuts
black (red, white) mulberry - morus nigra - fruit

We're thinking all of these will coppice well and have woody enough stems to do hedge laying.




Can anyone tell me where I can acquire some of theses species in the Portland OR area?
 
gina kansas
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I agree with osage orange being an exceptional hedge, the "apples" deter cockroaches, make an acceptable baseball -one time use- as well as being excellent hot burning firewood. What more could you ask from one plant?
As for hawthorne, medicinal choice would be laevagata, (sp?) runner up would be monogyna (again sp?) the first is supposed to the best for heart issues.
 
R Scott
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Dan Boone wrote:Awesome first post, Kurt! Be welcome.

Everything Kurt says is consistent with my experience and research except for this one little thing:

Kurt Stailey wrote:
2. No animal we have found yet will eat the hedge apples, even after becoming over ripened and falling apart.


Here they are heavily used as winter fodder for deer (who hang out under the trees munching up the fruit) and squirrels (who sit at the base of the tree or in a crotch of the tree and methodically shred the fruit for the (human-edible, fairly tasty, ridiculously-hard-to-separate-from-the-flesh) sunflower-like seeds. Horses also love them, to the point that the local name for the fruit and the trees is "horse apple". Here is my photographic evidence of horses loving them; when the neighbor's horse got loose he made a beeline for our yard to start feeding on them.




Our chickens also shred the balls and eat the seeds this time of year.

Cattle will munch on them, too. Had to take a calf to the vet when it got one caught in its throat.

And yes it is poisonous thorns, but not nearly as bad as locusts.
 
Sam Green
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Interesting thread, think we all would like to do something like this, my 2 cents would be to examine what they used in France, seem to remember the bocage areas gave us a hard time with mobility in WW2, and see what similar species would grow in your zone. From the pic you supplied, it seems youre more interested in weaving the branches together to provide the main stopping power, so maybe some type of more flexible tree (willow, birch, alder, etc) and go for the thorns as a secondary consideration. I usually, like alot of the other posters tend to think of thorns when envisioning a living hedge, but if you can weave together enough branches, that might not be necessary and save you alot of pain putting it together.
 
Chris Knipstein
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I just watched an interesting BBC show on YouTube. It's a little slow at first but gets more interesting further in. At just past 36 minutes in they talk about hedges as livestock feed, and how the cows like eating the ash leaves.

Earlier in the show they had a tractor with one of the hydraulic arm bushhog mowers for mowing hills lifted up as high as it would go to mow the hedge top probably 10 feet tall. They hedge they have doesn't appear to be laid down (though maybe it was in the past) but appears to be impenetrable because of density and width. My guess is that it's a lot of big stumps in there with tons of shoots going up, and possibly a laid hedge in there somewhere from long ago.

 
Dennis Barrow
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Chris Knipstein, that was a very good video. Thanks for sharing it.
 
Peter Ingot
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Chris Knipstein wrote:I just watched an interesting BBC show on YouTube. It's a little slow at first but gets more interesting further in. At just past 36 minutes in they talk about hedges as livestock feed, and how the cows like eating the ash leaves.

Earlier in the show they had a tractor with one of the hydraulic arm bushhog mowers for mowing hills lifted up as high as it would go to mow the hedge top probably 10 feet tall. They hedge they have doesn't appear to be laid down (though maybe it was in the past) but appears to be impenetrable because of density and width. My guess is that it's a lot of big stumps in there with tons of shoots going up, and possibly a laid hedge in there somewhere from long ago.



I can't get youtube at the moment. The use of flails to trim hedges is popular with farmers who want to get conservation grants for having hedges, but don't actually want hedges and don't want the work of laying them. Hedges cut this way are rarely stock proof, although piling brushwood can fill the gaps. They also often look a mess.

Hedge laying is very satisfying work, but get really good gloves and prepare to spend the next few days removing thorns from your skin. Get a tetanus jab if you haven't had one lately. I like blackberries, if they get in the way of your work, you can cut them right down and give them to goats, donkeys etc. if you have them. The blackberries will be back.

I agree that choice of species is important. In my experience, black locust/false acacia/robinia pseudoacacia can be a little sensitive to being cut. Sometimes it coppices occasionally it just dies. I'm in goat country and it gets cut in summer for fodder and then browsed which may have something to do with it, although generally it seems pretty tolerant of browsing. If you cut and lay it into a hedge, the main trunk may just die, but if you are lucky it could coppice from the roots.

As a hedge is "edge" you could plant hawthorns, blackthorn and other easily coppiced, laid trees for the main line of the hedge and then plant other trees on one or other side of the hedge, where they would benefit from the microclimate, leaf litter, suppression of grass etc. Depends what you want to do with the land on either side of the hedge and how much space you have. If the hedges divide up small meadows and gardens for instance best to keep them narrow and tidy as possible, or the trees could take over. If it's your outer boundary, you could make it wider, but remember that the main fence line needs to be accessible for re-laying every few years.
 
Betty Montgomery
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If any of you want to know more than you probably really ever will want to know about the Osage Orange, Bois d'Arc, Horse apple tree then I recommend the book "Wood Eternal, the story of Osage Orange, Bois d'Arc, etc" by Dr. Fred Tarpley. He wasn't a biologist or a farmer, and I doubt he ever heard of Permaculture (He may have heard me say the word. He may even have asked me what it was but I doubt he understood my reply. He was a very old gentleman by then.)
Dr. Tarpley was one of the folks behind the creation of a weekend long festival held in the College town of Commerce here in N. E. Texas. Commerce is the home of a University now known as Texas A&M Commerce. When I attended it was called East Texas State University. This weekend long festival is called the Bios D'Arc Bash and celebrates all things Bo Dark as we pronounce it here.
He referred to it as being eternal because while fence posts made from it may dry up they seldom if ever rot and many outlasted the barbed wire fastened to them. There are houses around with support posts under them made of the wood that are nearly a hundred years old and those posts are still as hard as rock. While green it can eat chain saw blades when dead and dry . . . don't even think about it.
It does burn hot and long. I once put a eight inch diameter (as I remember) log in a wood stove before I went to bed one night and still had large hot red coals the next morning. However when you burn it be prepared for the sparks! They fly far and could be a hazard.
 
Chris Knipstein
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Just a thought about the "olives", have you looked into much information about them? It sounds like something that if you don't *really* want it, you might find something different to plant.

russian olive - eleagnus angustifolia - thorny, n-fixer, fruit
autumn olive - eleagnus umbellata - thorny, n-fixer, fruit

The autumn olive is one of the eight plants on the 'search and destroy' list here in Indiana as an invasive, and they warn of the Russian olive that hasn't gotten a foothold here yet. http://www.in.gov/dnr/6351.htm From what I have read back in the 50's and 60's in Indiana people were encouraged to plant it as wind breaks, good for stopping soil erosion on banks, and supposed to be a good food source for wild birds. Now it seems it has become one of those 'genies let out of the bottle' that people wish had never happened and has been hunted down and killed since. It produces so many berries that the birds spread it everywhere, and wherever it gets a foot hold it kills nearby plants and spreads into the newly opened spot. You end up with just big blobs of quick spreading autumn olive.

I don't have any experience with the stuff, but the best description I've seen of how it spreads is that some native plants don't do well with an over abundance of nitrogen in the ground. The olives fix so much nitrogen that it affects nearby plants by stunting them, and then it takes over the spot and finishes killing what was there. (So much nitrogen that I read it increases stream water nitrate concentrations where it has taken over long stretches of the banks.) I've also heard the berries kill everything under the plant, producing 60-80 pounds of berries in the fall. So maybe it is just the quantity of the berries rotting that kills things under it, like a bunch of apples left under a tree tends to kill off the grass there.

Here is a link to a USDA webpage with all sorts of other links and info. http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/plants/autmnolive.shtml

The 'Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System' from that USDA website shows that it has only been reported in Gallatin County of Montana so far. http://www.eddmaps.org/distribution/uscounty.cfm?sub=3021


 
Michael Cox
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Jocelyn...

for a hedge to remain totally stock proof it does need periodic maintenance - usually hedge laying - as gaps are prone to open up low to the ground. They may be totally impenetrable at 6ft high, but a sheep looks at gaps at between 0" and 12" from ground level. The knack to laying hedges is about getting thick/sturdy limbs woven horizontally as close to the ground as possible.

I'd also be looking for some other products from your hedge. Many traditional hedges here are more hedge-with-standards... it is common to see a hedge with a large pollarded ash tree growing from it. Ash makes a good cut fodder crop for summer droughts, as well as excellent firewood and poles for tool handles etc... large nut trees can mix in quite well. A big walnut to grow up through your hedge and having spreading branches to drop nuts either side to be harvested...

Likewise, don't by shy about trees like apples - they don't have the thorny deterrent nature of some of your other species, but I've seen quite a few of them coppice when hacked to the ground so I suspect that they could fit into your systems, especially if you grow from seed so you don't have to worry about graft unions. Again, they can be left to grow tall as standards.
 
Randy Grant Heacox
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You guys remember that grafted fence in the old global gardener piece with bill mollison from the 70's? In new York city I think it was, they had that living fence of apple! samething would surely work with a thorny devil plant that gives you fodder for food and or fixes da N. but also you ever think of just planting the knarley rosa multiflora? where I live by cleveland they get six feet tall and sometimes ten feet in diameter with many many stems that could be easily weaved together with another multiflora rose planted a few feet away. if you did that then you could graft on tasty roses also, hardy apples could be grafted to thorny hawthorns.
 
elle sagenev
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Wouldn't willow work just fine? Willow has been making living fences/structures for centuries. So easy to propagate. Grows rather quickly. Can be used for other things when it gets overgrown. Can help reduce fevers and can be soaked to make rooting hormone for other plants. Willow, great tree.
 
Michael Cox
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Danielle - willow is not stock proof, and certainly not while young. I've seen sheep kill willow by ringbarking them - stems up to about 8 inches in diameter.
 
Niko Economides
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I am also interested in this thread and I hope it's ok for me to ad to the question. I'm interested in hedging in a forest pasture, mixture of oak, aspen, balsam fir. Very thick tight grown in some spots. Can I coppice the aspen will it lay? How about the fir? Any way to incorporate it. We intend to cell graze the woodland with sheep and a milk cow possibly yak in small clearings within ruff hedge Since this "hedge" is in the deep forrest neatness is not a concern. I'm hopping this question is in line with the original and of interest, if not feel free to delete it.
 
Will Meginley
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Niko Economides wrote:I am also interested in this thread and I hope it's ok for me to ad to the question. I'm interested in hedging in a forest pasture, mixture of oak, aspen, balsam fir. Very thick tight grown in some spots. Can I coppice the aspen will it lay? How about the fir? Any way to incorporate it. We intend to cell graze the woodland with sheep and a milk cow possibly yak in small clearings within ruff hedge Since this "hedge" is in the deep forrest neatness is not a concern. I'm hopping this question is in line with the original and of interest, if not feel free to delete it.


I don't know if aspen will coppice, but it reproduces readily from cuttings and root suckers so I'd give it a try. I highly doubt balsam fir will coppice. I don't know of any conifers that do. However, you can propagate western redcedar (Thuja plicata) and eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana) by layering. Basically, cut the tree above the lowest whorl of branches. Then place a rock on each branch so it's forced to remain in contact with the ground. Where it touches the ground it will grow roots and produce a tree. Eventually you'll have a little ring of cedar trees growing around the stump of each cedar you cut. As far as I know, that's about the closest thing to coppice you're going to get with conifers.

Perhaps balsam fir will do the same? If you've got a few to spare you might give it a try. I'd be interested to hear the results. You could probably lay hedge with most conifers (I've seen plenty of high elevation whitebark pine that was pretty much "laid" naturally by heavy snow loading), but I'm pretty sure once you cut completely through it it's dead.
 
Bill Bradbury
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I saw seviceberry mentioned, but what about utah serviceberry? It is much hardier, faster growing and coppiceable.They thrive in even the most heavily grazed pastures, need no irrigation, have gnarly thorns and produce a somewhat edible fruit.
 
Michael Newby
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While I don't have experience with formal hedge laying, I do have quite a bit of experience with trimming thorny trees, especially black locust and hawthorne. Like Paul mentioned above, try to do the work when it's cold so you can be bundled up.

My specific strategy when I know ahead of time that I'm going to be working with extremely thorny trees is to bring a pair of welding gloves and wear my oiled tin-cloth bibs and jacket. There's a few makers of old fasioned oiled tin-cloth but I personally only use Filson gear, they're expensive but their the toughest I've found. The great thing about the oil-cloth (besides pure toughness) is the fact that the waxy waterproofing tends to make a lot of the thorns slide across the surface without snagging enough to really dig in. Wear stout boots as well, I have had hawthorne thorns go right through the sole of my sneakers with plenty left to go into my foot.
 
Deb Rebel
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@ Michael, thank you for the heads up on the Filson Gear, I looked them up and that has been just what I've been looking for. If it will work, wear, and last I will dig down and invest the money. Thank you again.
 
Chris Knipstein
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I totally agree with the comment about thorns.

Michael Newby wrote:Wear stout boots as well, I have had hawthorne thorns go right through the sole of my sneakers with plenty left to go into my foot.


Black locust thorns are just like nails but sharp as needles. I've had many go right through the sole of my shoes as a kid and seen them go through tires as well. They have the long main thorn that can get 4 inches long or so, and then all the side thorns coming off it. So there always seems to be one thorn pointing up no mater how they land on the ground.
 
Tim Southwell
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Michael Newby wrote:While I don't have experience with formal hedge laying, I do have quite a bit of experience with trimming thorny trees, especially black locust and hawthorne. Like Paul mentioned above, try to do the work when it's cold so you can be bundled up.

My specific strategy when I know ahead of time that I'm going to be working with extremely thorny trees is to bring a pair of welding gloves and wear my oiled tin-cloth bibs and jacket. There's a few makers of old fasioned oiled tin-cloth but I personally only use Filson gear, they're expensive but their the toughest I've found. The great thing about the oil-cloth (besides pure toughness) is the fact that the waxy waterproofing tends to make a lot of the thorns slide across the surface without snagging enough to really dig in. Wear stout boots as well, I have had hawthorne thorns go right through the sole of my sneakers with plenty left to go into my foot.



After multiple years of pruning these central leader trees down, will the vertical growth rate slow to reflect more of a shrub over time? We are in the process of planting / designing our Fedge this spring. Deer / Elk protection on the outside and pollinators / edibles on the inside (our side). We are looking at more shrub species, as we want to see over the hedge to the views beyond and would like to cap our height at 6-8' max. I love the ideas of Black Locust, Black Hawthorne, and a mix of rose and sea buckthorn, Osage Orange... but need to insure I'm not battling height issues for eternity. That is a problem, and the solution would not be to plant. If through repeated coppicing, the growth is retarded to allow for less vertical tending, then I am interested. Any experience with this?
 
Tim Southwell
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Here is a PDF of our preliminary list of plants being considered... both on the exterior and interior side. From here, we would plant edible grazing brambles along the interior edge (raspberry, blackberry, goji, etc. not listed).

Filename: Untitled.pdf
Description: Fedge list for Zone 5 Montana
File size: 42 Kbytes
[Download Untitled.pdf] Download Attachment
 
Michael Newby
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Tim:
If you're going for a short hedge you're better off not using coppicing as a long term management system because the new shoots that come up do so with quite a bit of vigor. I've seen plenty of black locust trees send up 8' shoots in one year - good for firewood, short hedge not so much.

I'd sat you're better off either planting very densely, coppice everything after they're established well, then maintain like Paul shows above or you can plant less densely, instead of coppicing bend the shoots over and bury them 2-3" under the soil (propagate by layering), then maintain the new growth as mentioned above. You'll have to stake or weigh down the end under the soil to keep it in place while roots develop. Even if the layering doesn't take just bending the tree over like that will still encourage lots of new vertical growth to use thickening up your hedge.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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I'm updating and edited the subject to better explain as Paul did here:

paul wheaton wrote:Just to be clear, there are many types of hedges and the type of hedge we wish to create is something that will keep animals in. Something that you grow for two or three years and then do this:



So in order to pull this off, it must be a tree with a central leader and not a shrub. It must also be a coppicing species. Non-coppicing species just wouldn't work here.

It seems that thorns could be wise to keep animals from testing it too much.

Any food production would be a secondary feature.

We decided to not put sea buckthorn, for example, on the list because my impression is that it is a shrub and not a tree. You could, indeed, make a decorative hedge, but it would not do well in keeping animals in or out.



Hence our living fence list is is limited to coppicing tree species and is perhaps more limited than many polyculture or food forest or other (just) hedge lists.

 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Pretty much all the food forest species that Tim Southwell put on his list we'd love to plant around our perimeters - perhaps alongside the living fence, though the fence is our first priority.

We'll be ordering around 30,000 tree seeds this week to get this started!
 
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