Hey all, I'm posting an idea I've been considering, looking for feedback and resources. First though, some context:
I have a 5 acre parcel on Vancouver Island (PNW climate). It is a bit inland, so coastal effects are minor (no salt wind, etc...). The property is a rectangle, busy road along one edge, a quiet road along another edge and woods/forest along the 3rd and 4th edges. Surrounding properties are a mix of wooded rural residential (~5 acres) and agricultural pasture (~30-80 acres). We also live in a 'no gun hunting' area, though bow hunting is legal. I am not a hunter.
I hope to develop large areas of the property as food forest/savanna.
Obviously deer pressure is high, they come right up to the back door at night and crop the tops off our cherry tomatoes. The property was a 'country horse people residence' for 40 odd years, so it's mostly pasture with decrepit short fencing along the perimeter, as well as a short fence around the 'yard' by the house. We've installed a high, 7.5' fence around our new veggie garden, which keeps the deer out just fine.
I'm not enthusiastic about trying to fence the whole property line with high fencing, too expensive, too resource intensive (metal wire, posts, digging labour/machines) and too much like living in a compound. We have a lazy old city dog who will chase deer, but spends nights inside (when the real damage occurs). We plan to get a younger dog soon, and I plan to use 'magic bone sauce' to protect individual trees. However, bonce sauce won't help herbaceous plants and dogs are no guarantee (nor problem free).
Now the idea: I've been considering the adage that deer don't like to jump both high and wide, nor do they like to jump into unseen or narrow landing zones. As such I am thinking of planting an outside hedgerow of thorny plants, piling brush and tree trimmings behind the thorny layer, followed by a second line of productive fedge plants on the inside. I hope if the total width is 5+ feet, and maximum height is 5+ feet, it will exclude deer. Thorny plants I'm considering are Black Hawthorn, Nootka Rose, Sea buckthorn, Barberry. I would also include various insectary, nutrient accumulator and nitrogen fixers to support the main plants. I'm also considering adding some taller trees to the mix for nuts or timber. The fedge side is as of yet unplanned, truly the thorny barrier is the main purpose. I have no plans to create a 'pleached' hedgerow in the British style, since I'm not worried about containing cattle or sheep.
Now for the questions: How could I establish this hedgerow and increase chances of success (tips/techniques)? What other plants would you suggest? Would you plant right to the decrepit fence line or leave a gap (if so, how wide)? Can you suggest any resources for further reading/research, especially regarding establishment techniques? Have you any examples where this has been successfully done?