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Living fence shrub/tree for shade in zone 4  RSS feed

 
Mike Jay
Posts: 802
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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Hello friends, I'm looking for a shrub or tree that I can densely plant along two of my borders to screen views through the woods and discourage passage by flightless bipedal animals*.  I found some from the state reforestry program that I could get affordably.  There are probably some I'm unaware of so please let me know which ones I'm missing.  The constraints are:

The borders in question are South and West facing
There is a full canopy over my property and to the South consisting primarily of conifers
To the West is a regrowing poplar clearcut that is currently 20' high.  So that side would get some sun in the afternoons for the next 5-10 years
The land is dryish but low.  I bet I'd hit water if I dug 2' deep.
I'd love to get a food yield, fuel or material yield would be second best
I'm in zone 4a
I'd love it if I could plant them 5' apart and have them bush out and fill in
Each border is 600' long to give an idea of scale

Some options:
Hazelnuts - they grow wild here anyway so they're well adapted but they aren't very bushy in the shade
Highbush cranberry - Not sure how well they grow or produce in the shade on low land?
American wild plum - Not sure how well they grow or produce in the shade on low land?
Chokecherry - they grow wild here anyway so they're well adapted but they aren't very bushy in the shade
Aronia (chokeberry) - wild ones around here are too short
Elderberry - I believe they can handle some shade and like it wet. 
Currant/gooseberry - Not sure they get big enough?
Hawthorn - don't know anything about it...

I'm not considering:
black locust - Sounds great but it's a "restricted" invasive in WI

Thanks!!!

*humans


 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
Posts: 3159
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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One other to consider is Osage Orange, good for coppice firewood and is one of the original "hedge fence" plants. The others are English Yew (the other "bow" wood) and the hawthorn you mentioned. While these are not "food" producers for humans the Osage Orange is revered by squirrels, which can then be harvested for food.

The main thing (to my mind) is how dense the growth is and can you actually weave the living branches together so you have a true "fence like barrier" formed so hogs can't push their way through.

Most of the ones you mentioned are tough enough to do this. The exceptions might be Elderberry and Cranberry, the Elderberry is a soggy land lover but the stems are hollow and can be broken fairly easily, up until they reach a 2 inch radius, by most larger animals.

Hazelnuts can actually be woven and if you scratch the bark well where they cross in the weave, they will attach barks making them more like chain link fencing. (this works for plum, aronia, hawthorn, osage orange, elderberry and goose berry).
In the locust family I would perhaps check out the honey locust over the black variety since it can be managed a little easier for habitat encroachment.

I've seen a few "Iron Wood" living fences made where the branches were woven together and as these grew they calloused and locked together, at that point they were great fences.

Redhawk
 
gava gaia
Posts: 7
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Hi Mike,

I don't have experience with living fences, but am planning to do this in the next year or two.  Here's an interesting article I found:  Living Fences

I've also heard of living willow fences, made by stringing wire and sticking willow shoots in the ground at a 45 degree angle, then weaving the shoots around each other & the wire. 
 
Daniel Ray
pollinator
Posts: 139
Location: Stevensville, Montana; Zone 4b
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Seaberry/sea buckthorn is a great food producer that will hedge and can handle a bunch of different soils.
People either love or hate siberian peashrub, but it will work really well as a hedge.

Barberry
Native American Plum
silver buffaloberry

These are all great!

 
Mike Jay
Posts: 802
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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Thanks Bryant for the Osage Orange idea.  For some reason I thought they couldn't handle zone 4 but it looks like they can.  I'm assuming they're not common up here at nurseries so I'll have to see if/how I can source them affordably.  Can they handle shade? 

Luckily I'm not trying to keep hogs in, just trying to discourage neighbors from taking a wander or peek in.  So I'm fine with big and brushy but not necessarily tight enough to keep out a pig/deer/fox.  I probably won't deliberately weave them together but I might try it by a few more critical locations.

Thanks also for the scratch-grafting info on those species.  I didn't realize they could do that. 

Daniel, Seaberry is my food forest list but I've read it doesn't like heavier shade.  Do you know if that's the case?   I like plum but I'm not sure if they can handle shade either?



 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
Posts: 3159
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
255
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Osage Orange does well in full sun to partial shade, plum not so much shade, it slows the growth a lot.
If the shade is fairly deep you might try Saskatoon (service berry), they grow to 15 feet tall, are very bushy and like more shade than sun.
Others that like the same conditions are huckleberry and blueberry, but they don't get as large as the Saskatoon bushes.

Redhawk

 
Mike Jay
Posts: 802
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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Thanks Bryan, that's what I was thinking.  We do have service berries growing wild around here but they tend to be pretty scraggly if they're under other trees.  Not sure if that's just the ones I see by the side of the road, I'll have to do some investigating in more wooded areas. 

I was just looking for ironwood (hop hornbeam) but I don't see any for sale at the nurseries I've been browsing.  It does grow around here in the shade but I don't see many of them.  They are tough trees...

So far I think it sounds like my best bet is hazelnut in the shadier places and maybe elderberry or osage orange in the less full shade places.
 
Todd Parr
pollinator
Posts: 1421
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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Mike, I have siberian peashrubs and seaberry.  Both are growing well here.  My peashrubs are in good sun, so I can't comment on that.  The seaberry are more shaded by some big trees in my chicken run, but they are doing well. I got some small osage orange tree sprouts from a member here, but none of them made it.  I have a border at the bottom of a north-facing hill that I am going to plant with osage orange seeds.  I was going to run down to Illinois this last fall and pick a bunch of the apples up so I would have a lot of seeds, but I didn't make it down.  Maybe someone that lives in that area could send us some?  I need 50 or so for the stretch I want to do.  I saw a lot of them in hedgerows when I was in IL last summer.  I loved them.  Planted close together and interwoven a little, no one is getting thru them.
 
Mike Jay
Posts: 802
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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Yeah, I'd plant some osage orange if we could get some seeds.  I'm definitely planting seaberries, but I have them going into a sunnier place for better berry production.
 
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