A living fence is a beautiful (not to mention green) way to score a bit of privacy in your home and backyard. These types of fences hide your outdoor area away from the prying eyes of nosy neighbors and they’re usually much easier on the eyes than plain Jane fences made of wood.
Thankfully, maintaining a living fence is not too terribly difficult provided you remember one key thing: like all plants, living fences need water, nutrients, and protection from pests. If you prefer a more “polished” appearance in your yard, make plans to prune your living fence from time to time as well.
For most living fences, water should never be much of a problem. The water your fence receives naturally from rain and groundwater is usually enough to keep it thriving – unless, of course, you live in a particularly arid climate. Even in the best of climates, however, your living fence may need a little extra water. This can happen during particularly dry periods, such as droughts. Keep an eye on things when rain is scarce, and water manually when your living fence is looking a bit droopy.
The exact amount of water your living fence needs during dry periods is entirely dependent on what species of plant you choose. Some plant species require more water than others. For example, willow shrubs typically require a bit more water than evergreen shrubs.
In order to grow and thrive, living hedges also need nutrients. Nitrogen especially helps plants develop lush, leafy green foliage. If your soil is lacking in nutrients, there’s a good chance you may need to add a fertilizer.
A commercial fertilizer with an equal amount of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium is a good choice for most living hedges. You can add some well-rotted manure to the soil as well for a burst of extra nutrients. Simply spread these fertilizers around the base of the plants that make up your living fence.
Organic Protection from Pests
Pests are an all-too-common problem for many home gardeners and landscapers. Certain pests can ravage your hedges, leaving them ragged and sickly looking in no time flat. Fortunately, you can use a few little-known tricks to protect your living fence from unwanted visitors organically.
Hot peppers – think cayenne or jalapenos – steeped in hot water for several hours make an excellent pest deterrent. Simply spray the mixture on the foliage of your living fence after it has cooled. Animals such as deer and rabbits are repelled by the taste and won’t bother the plants after you apply it. You can also mix water with a small amount of liquid dish detergent and spray the leaves to deter insects.
Pruning and Training
To keep your living fence from looking ragged, prune it periodically. Use hedge clippers to remove a small amount of foliage until you shape the fence to your satisfaction. Snip off stray branches, twigs, and leaves as well as dead or damaged foliage.
Living fences are fantastic because they blend with your yard’s existing landscaping and add to the aesthetic appeal of your home. They are easy to maintain with a few simple guidelines and you will enjoy them for years to come with very little additional work after the initial planting.