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Black Locust (?) Living Fence plus fuel for RMH  RSS feed

Posts: 247
Location: Colville, WA Zone 5b
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Okay so I'm in the beginning stages of formulating a plan here and I want to see if you guys had some input.

Deer are a real problem here. Right now I'm fencing in my garden with t-posts and two layers of construction netting which works great but I can't imagine it will last more than a few years. I was thinking what I really want to do is make a living fence BUT I should combine my need for a living fence with my OTHER need to produce a steady supply of fuel for an RMH.

I don't actually have an RMH yet but when I add on to my home, it's in my plan as a part of my "make life easy on Bethany for when she gets old or if SHTF" list. We have mostly softwoods here so when I'm old, I think I'll be very appreciative of my own crop of hardwood poles for burning (and no big chainsaw or splitting work).

So what I'm thinking is to do a living fence, using black locust and figuring out a way to get them to also produce poles for homestead construction and also RMH fuel. Out here we have mostly softwoods. ALso nectar for the bees, nitrogen fixing, and since they don't leaf out too thickly at the bottom, not too much shade for my garden.

The only hesitation (besides the "Will this even work?" question) is that I've heard it can be really invasive. If I'm going to be making a fence next to a dirt road/driveway, I may have problems trying to keep it out. Unless there's a good way to keep it in one place? And then also what happens when the trees get TOO big.

The OTHER thought is to use vine maple, which grows rampant around here. Bonus that it is native and already grows well here and I'm sure I could use it as perfect fuel for a RMH but it would not have all the other great benefits of locust (but also not the drawbacks either). Only real con I can think of to vine maple is that I'd have to space it pretty far away so it didn't shade anything out.
Posts: 167
Location: New Hampshire
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Using both sounds good to me. Maple is great for my RMH, and black locust is too. Maple is easier splitting though. The black locust grows fast and can do a great job making a barrier within a couple years.

You do need to keep the black locust in check, but mowing down the very young shoots works fine. We have a battery powered string trimmer (Dewalt brand) and that does a good job. We also have a Greenworks Pro (80v battery) chainsaw that rocks.
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Posts: 4771
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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If you want fence poles that will last many years, Black Locust is your tree.
If you want good firewood then I would go with the maple it won't dull your saw the way BL will and it won't put off sucker trees at every root fork the way BL will.

Honey Locust is considered better for living fences from what I've heard around, it is less likely to sucker off new trees too.

Since the Maple is native to the area, it will be very well suited to your climate and soil conditions.

I have some friends in the Ozarks that hate BL and rip it out, roots and all since it seems to be a tree that gets brittle as it ages, which wouldn't be so great for a living fence.
I use Osage Orange for living fences it is one of the original living fence trees, also known as hedge apple, some of the old fence hedges of it have been around for over 100 years.

Posts: 321
Location: SoCal USA
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You could also look at Osage Orange for a hedge, varieties include thorns which deter pests, and if you collect the seed pods you can get a ton of seeds for growing. Osage Orange is very strong, makes excellent bow staves (if you want a specialty cash crop from it) and I have read it works well for RMH fuel. Weave shoots together until it's 4-5 feet high, then let shoots grow from there and prune them for fuel. Not sure how high it will end up getting if they are bent over to make a hedge, saw the technique in Mother Earth News once. I hope to retire in 5 years when my pension kicks in, and will line my property with seedlings to try it out. Willow is another option if the soil is wet enough, and you can plant cuttings right into the ground to get them growing from what I've seen.
Posts: 942
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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When I was a kid growing up in central Kansas, there was an old-timer in our church whose father had pioneered the land that he grew up on, and now was being farmed by his son.  He talked about his father plowing the original prairie behind two mules, and then when they got to the edge of their land, his dad plowed one more furrow and then it was his job as a kid to drop a hedge apple into the furrow every 10 steps and back-fill around it. 

That man was about 80 years old.

Those old hedgerows of osage orange were still there on the border of his fields.  Most of those trees had survived from his childhood, all those decades earlier.

That was almost 50 years ago.  I'd be curious if any of those old trees are still there. 

After the dirty-thirty dust-bowl years, thousands and thousands of miles of osage orange shelter belts where planted across Kansas.  I grew up and there were millions of those old trees still around, but as farmers were driving larger and larger tractors, they were tearing those old shelter belts out ---- they wanted long open fields where they didn't have to make a turn every 1/4 mile.  The wood makes great rot-resistant fence posts (albeit, it usually isn't very straight), and as a kid, those sticky hedge apples made great ammo for our various battles.
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