Good fences don’t just make good neighbours (if you believe that, anyway). In gardening, fences can find many uses. As a barrier, sure, but also as a means to increase growing area or trellis plants. They can also effectively mark a growing boundary, clearly demarcating the area where you want rhizomal plants to remain. Fences can also be living things, in this regard.
Straight lines and 90-degree Angles
In nature, we almost never find straight lines and hard angles. Curves rule. When we increase an angle or add slope, we increase the effective area of what we’re working with, from garden beds to pond designs, as well as fences. While you could erect a fence that pops out of the ground straight and forms neat corners, you could also try a design that is more organic and easier on the eyes.
As a Barrier
If you have a small orchard of a few fruit trees and live in an area where there are deer, or other large, browsing animals, you’ve probably had your tree eaten. Not fun. Creating a barrier is important in this regard. Your design should be tall enough to keep an animal from jumping in and shouldn’t shade out your plants. “Scare-tape” is plastic tape that you can tie to a fence like ribbon. It deters animals by showing them a visible barrier and rustling, which keeps them away. This is extremely important, as you’re not creating a deer-net, but a fence.
Trellises with horizontal bars
Trellising means growing plants in a vertical space. It works great for plants th at like to sprawl. Tomatoes, most commonly, but also summer squash, blackberries, table grapes, hops and a variety of other plants. If you’re putting in a fence, you should grow plants on it. So you’d want a material that plants can grab onto. Chain-link fencing works well, but you could also use bamboo. Remember that when many plants are growing up a surface, they will cast a shadow if they have large leaves. Site a trellising fence in an area that gets sun, but doesn’t shade out other sun-loving plants. You can also train fruit trees to a fence, in a process known as “espaliering”.
A living fence, to create a private, enclosed space, or dampen noise or act as a windbreak would consist of high shrubs or dwarf trees interplanted with plants that would take up any space between. This will give you experience with many plants and what is sometimes referred to as “guild planting,” where plants that have symbiotic relationships are sited close to one another. It could be maintained tightly, like a hedgerow, or be allowed to grow out, depending on your needs. -MIKE KLEPFER