Plant a Living Fence

Residential homes typically have wood, iron, chain-link, or other fences that define a property’s parameters. But there are other ways to create a dividing line between your house and your neighbor’s. Planting a living fence makes boundary lines that are not only beautiful, but friendly too. A living fence can be the answer to creating a barrier between your front yard and the street as it can also hide an ugly utility box or the pool pump equipment in your backyard.

Great Reasons to Plant a Living Fence

If you’re not yet convinced about planting a living fence, we’ve got more reasons!

  • Adds aesthetic warmth to your landscape.
  • Doesn’t require digging or setting fence posts.
  • There’s no repainting in your future.
  • Makes an effective sound barrier.
  • Creates a natural windbreak.
  • Can last for the rest of your life (and well beyond).
  • Can raise property value.
  • Supports eco-diversity and creates an ecosystem that attracts birds and other wildlife.

Plants that Make Great Living Fences

Traditional “hedge fences” such as geometrically clipped boxwood shrubs are the first plants to come to mind when people think of living fences. We have some other suggestions that are just as suitable.

  • Roses – (Rosa) Deciduous. Be sure to look for ‘shrub roses’ for fragrant and beautiful living fences.
  • Golden False Cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera f. filifera) – Evergreen. This plant has a lovely gold, thread-like foliage.
  • Viburnum – (Viburnum) Evergreen and deciduous types depending on species. Shop around because there’s a wide variety of Viburnums available.
  • Japanese Euonymus (Euonymus japonicus) – Evergreen. Fast growing with greenish-white flowers followed by small pink fruits.  
  • Photinia 'Red Robin' (Photinia x fraseri 'Red Robin') – Evergreen. Brilliant red leaves in spring.
  • Holly – (Ilex) Evergreen or deciduous depending on species. Deer resistance plus adorable red berries.
  • Variegated False Holly (Osmanthus) – Evergreen. Beautiful dense shrub with cream and green leaves.
  • Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis) – Evergreen. Upright rosemary varieties make living fences that produce food for both you and the bees.
  • American arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) – Evergreen. This naturally pyramiding shrub is well-suited as a windbreak.
  • Glossy Abelia – (Abelia x grandiflora) Semi-evergreen depending on where you live. This is a unique fencing option with fragrant flowers.
  • Mock Orange (Pittosporum tobira) – Evergreen. Clip and shape this pretty shrub or let it flower to enjoy the orange blossom scent.
  • Leyland Cypress (Cupressus x leylandii) – Evergreen. Tall conifer that offers super privacy and is as perfect as a windbreak.
  • Lilac – (Syringa) Deciduous. Beyond lovely with dizzying floral fragrance in spring.
  • Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) – Deciduous. Delicious fruit in the summer with vibrant red leaves come fall.

Living Fence Considerations

While you are exploring plants, remember that some of them may be deciduous. This means that their branches will be bare for the winter, leaving your yard exposed for several months. Your environment plays a big role when choosing living fence plants. For example, the shrubs grown in one state may be an invasive species in your state and should be avoided. If you live in a dry, drought-stricken state like California, you may not want to plant thirsty willows as a fence line.

On the other hand, environments can vary even in the same state. For example, Southern California’s climate is vastly different from Northern California’s climate, so it’s smart to look for plants that naturally thrive in your area. Do you share your neighborhood with deer? Choose shrubs that are deer-resistant as opposed to roses (which deer will devour). If you don’t like raking leaves, choose from a list of evergreens.

Did you know that "formal" hedges that are often kept clipped into a specific shape take on a completely different look when they are left to grow naturally? Shrubs that are left to their natural shape will have an informal, and relaxed feel, and while they can still be pruned to maintain their size, you’ll have blossoms.  

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