I have recieved an NRCS grant to put up cross fencing on my pasture, and add four 30'x300' hedgerows. I've already done the fencing, and now I'm working on my tree order. Before i make the purchase, I'd like to get any and all feedback on my plan. Each hedgerow is unique, with different crops for wildlife, livestock and human food, as well as nitrogen fixers and firewood.
Each of the four 30 foot wide rows will have 3 planted rows. I'm planing to have 5 foot buffer between the fence and the first planted row, then 10 feet between the planted rows. (5+10+10+5 = 30 feet).
The first hedgerow is my Mark Shepard "restoration Ag" hedgerow. It contains these three planted rows:
Row 1: Pecan - Black Locust - Black Locust - Pecan (repeated, 10 foot spacing, so Pecans are 30 feet apart)
Row 2: Chestnut - Eastern Hemlock - EHL - EHL - Chestnut (Chestnuts will be 20 feet apart, with EHL's spread evenly between them)
Row 3: Hazelnut (every 6 feet)
The second hedgerow contains:
Sugar Maple - Black Locust - BL - Sugar Maple (repeasted, 10 foot spacing, so Maples are 30 feet apart)
In the very long term, I expect the BL to eventually get shaded out by the maple. This may happen to the mulberry as well, although I'm hoping it will get some afternoon sun as it's downhill and on the southwest side of the maples.
The third hedgerow contains:
KY Coffeetree - Eastern Redbud - KYC - ERB (8 foot spacing, so each KYC is 16 feet apart)
Persimmon - Black Locust (repeated, 12 foot spacing. So Persimmon is 24 feet from eachother)
Serviceberry or Nannyberry spaced every 4 feet
And the fourth hedgerow contains:
Eastern Red Oak - Washington Hawthorn (repeated, spacing is 10 feet, so each red oak is 20 feet from each other)
Persimmon - Black Locust (repeated, spacing is 10 feet, so each persimmon is 20 feet from each other)
Chokecherry or Pawpaw (every 10 feet)
I have more black locust than I want, but I'm limited on the nitrogen fixers I can use. I'm buying from the state forestry division, and as far as I can tell my only N-fixers are black locust, KY coffeetree, and hazel alder.
If you have any questions or feedback, please let me know. I've put a lot of planning into this, but I could easily be missing something important. I do expect that my maples and pecans would eventually have to be thinned out, but I spaced them where I think they should be good for a long time, then thinning to every other tree will (60 foot spacing) will be way down the road.
- Your spacing calculation adds up to 30' by my calculation if I read what you are proposing correctly. Not sure why Barry thinks your spacing calculation is incorrect.
- Having a 5' gap to the fences from the first and third row means that stock will have trouble reaching the stems. As the trees grow in the outer rows you will have to trim branches that point towards the fence until any such branches are above the reach of stock. Otherwise they'll eat the branches which can also cause damage the stems. Cattle are big animals and can give a fair old wrench to a tree or shrub if they can get their teeth onto it.
- The rows closest to the respective fences will also be able to take advantage of what is sometimes called edge effect by getting their roots out into the soil on the other side of the fence for extra water and nutrition. I've seen close planted bluegum (Eucalyptus globulus) in a shelter belt that were doing well but they were visibly pushing their roots out 10m into the surrounding dirt. And because there is less shading on the fence side from other trees the tree may develop a bushier habit than might otherwise be the case which means more canopy and hence better growth. But this also complicates growing the trees for timber if that is the aim as the stem will be knottier.
- A 10' gap to the interior row and the close spacing between trees in this row will see the trees in competition for water and nutrients quite quickly. This will adversely affect growth from a relatively young age unless you plan to thin. But close spacing does push trees up which improves form for timber without requiring lift pruning.
What are your objectives with the trees? Do you plant to harvest any for timber? Or are they purely for habitat/food/shelter?
If you do plan to harvest for timber, it would be worth checking the markets for hemlock as while I'm not familiar with US timber markets I do recall that at least some hemlock doesn't attract good prices. And if you can get improved seed provenances for any trees with timber as an objective this can help with growth rates and form
Hope this was helpful
When's the best time to plant a tree? About 20 years ago. When's the next best time? Today!
Location: Danville, KY (Zone 6b)
posted 3 years ago
Thank you for the feedback, guys.
Barry - I have 5 feet between the fence and the first and third rows, then 10 feet for the gaps between rows 1/2 and 2/3, so that should add up to 30. Maybe I'm misunderstanding your point, so please clarify if I'm misunderstanding. As for growing out over the fence, that is my expectation. Eventually I'll remove one of the two fences, so that it still separates paddocks, but the livestock can forage under the trees as well. Obviously, that will be a while before that happens though.
David - I'm not planning to grow any of the wood for timber. My primary goal was for human, livestock, and wildlife food, as well as livestock shelter. I mixed in black locust for firewood, as well as N-fixing benefits. It's mainly using the guidance of J. Russel Smith (Tree Crops) and Mark Shepard (Regenerative Agriculture).
As for the root growth beyond the fence, I was planning to subsoil as near to the fence line as I can get every year or two (probably about 4 feet from the edge of my tractor to the centerline where the subsoiler will be). My understanding is that this will prune the more shallow roots, thus having less effect on stealing water from the pasture grasses. I'm not sure how this would effect the tree growth (tall vs bushy), but you sound a helluva lot more knowledgable than me in that area, so if you have an idea please let me know.
I'll make sure to keep the low branches pruned from the fence until the stems are strong. I had figured the livestock would prune it for me, but I hadn't really considered the damage cattle could do to the stem from there. Right now I only have sheep, so cattle is new to me, but thats good information to have since I'm going to add cattle in the Spring.
For the trees in the middle row, I tried to put in plants that I am OK with eventually shading out, or plants that claim to be shade tolerant. For those that are shade tolerant, I tried to still plant shorter bushes in the third row, so that they'll get afternoon southwest facing sun. Pawpaw and persimmon are shade tolerant, I know, but I do wonder how well they'd fruit... The mulberry isn't as shade tolerant, but they are planted next to elderberry, which they should grow taller than. Does that make sense? Perhaps the taller Pecans and Maples will drown them out regardless, but I'm limited on how I can set this up within the NRCS contract that I was able to negotiate, so if you have any other creative ideas I'd love to hear them.
The NRCS contract was a lot of money for waterlines, fencing, and tree planting. Way more than I was willing to spend on my own, so I couldn't pass it up, even though it wasn't exactly what I wanted. It was still better than anything I was going to do privately funded.
I'm curious, why not go ahead and use nut trees for all three of your hedge rows?
instead of red oak why not use white oak if you are looking for a firewood or furniture building wood to harvest. (white oak has many more uses than red oak including use for smoking meats, red oak has a funky taste when used that way).
The nut trees will also allow you to plant the other fruiting trees you mentioned.
Some things I don't know if you researched.
Elderberry is a root spreading tree and will create thickets of elderberry, the grow to about 30 feet tall and very bushy, pushing out the mulberry (which is a sun lover, fast grower initially but then it slows down on height and goes for spread).
I have two, two year old mulberries that are now at 15 feet tall, they are also around 15 feet across. (spindly branches that I will be cutting back so the bases will grow stronger rather than breaking off the main trunk.).
Pawpaw is a wetland tree, growing naturally in stream and river bottoms areas, it has to have lots of shade in the first few years (leaves can sunburn and that kills the tree) and will not fruit until it reaches sunlight.
Pecans grow to over 70 feet tall and spread to 30 - 40 feet at the crown, when planted 60 feet apart they will end up as a closed canopy system after about 50 years of growing.
Persimmon trees are also sun lovers and fruit best with full sun along with desiring rotting wood and other detrius around their roots.
Serviceberry and Nannyberry both want partial shade and adequate water in the soil along with rather acidic soil requirements similar to blueberry and huckleberry.
Unless you are wanting to have some woodlot type trees in your system it would be better to use clovers (red, yellow and crimson) for the understory nitrogen fixers since these will readily re-seed themselves, fall over and decay all with no input from you.
Black Locust is great for fence posts but most folks find it to invasive in nature to use. If you use them, be ready to use the chainsaw on a regular basis for thinning to keep them from taking over everything.
(by the way, Mark actually isn't thrilled with black locust trees and is in the process of getting rid of most of the ones on his property now.)
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
posted 3 years ago
Bryant RedHawk wrote:Black Locust is great for fence posts but most folks find it to invasive in nature to use. If you use them, be ready to use the chainsaw on a regular basis for thinning to keep them from taking over everything.
Everyone I've spoken to on the subject in my area feels Black Locust is best controlled when it's at the stage for controlling with a Machete or Loppers, BEFORE they reach the stage you have to lug the chainsaw around. These can either be dumped where they were cut and will actually rot down in a somewhat reasonable period of time [unlike Black Locust logs] or gathered for the very energy dense stickfuel [a good reason to find ways to use Rocket Burner technology.]