A living fence is simply a type of fence made of living plants, small trees, or shrubs to provide you with more privacy than a traditional fence.
Living fences are not only good for privacy; they’re also a low-cost alternative to adding value to your front yard landscaping.
Just think of how amazing it would be when a fence could grow without any type of support. These can sometimes last for decades while looking amazingly beautiful in your yard.
But before you plan to go out and buy a bunch of plants for your living fence, there are a few things you should consider.
There can be specific pros and cons, and you must know the different varieties available to pick the right one for your needs.
So, let’s look at different types and then the benefits and drawbacks of living fences compared to manufactured fences.
Living Fence Ideas
The natural fence that keeps on growing and living for years on its own is impressive.
If you’re looking for a more natural way to add privacy to your home, a living fence is a way to go.
Here are some of the best living fence types, tips, and ideas for you to get started:
1- Bamboo Living Fences
Bamboo is an excellent material to use for making a beautiful living fence.
Bamboo is one of the quickest-growing plants and is incredibly low-maintenance. Just be cautious while selecting your bamboo species.
Furthermore, have a strategy to keep it contained since bamboo’s rapid growth may outpace other vegetation.
Of all the varieties I have listed below, this is one of the best ones I love. Why?
Because we have had them on one side of my yard for ages, and my neighbors always feel envious of their beauty whenever they see them.
It’s already 18-20 feet tall, and we don’t do much to it to maintain privacy.
2- Ivy Living Fences
If you’re looking for an evergreen option, then ivy is a great pick.
Ivy is known for its vigorous growth and can quickly cover an existing fence or trellis. Plus, it’s very tolerant of various soil and light conditions.
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re considering an ivy living fence:
- Ivy can damage brick or mortar, so if you have a masonry fence, make sure to plant it at least 1 foot away.
- Ivy does need some trimming to keep it from getting too thick.
- Ivy can be invasive, so pick a non-invasive variety for your area.
3- Cactus Living Fence
Mind it, succulents like cacti are not for everyone. But these can be tremendously useful if you have kids or pets you do not want to go out without your permission.
Cacti have sharp spines, which can be a natural barrier to keeping away trespassers or nosy neighbors. A natural cactus fence may also be perfect for dealing with pest problems.
You can either use a living cactus fence or a dead one. If you want to go for the latter, simply arrange the cacti, so their spines are pointing outwards and in the form of barbed wire.
Osage orange plants and Hawthorns, with stout thorns, are other popular choices in America that can be used if you also want to enjoy its edible berries.
4- Beautiful Flowering Plants
Lilac, Yellow Forsythia, Trumpet creepers, Pyracantha, and Red Dogwood are some of the best flowering plants you can use to make an ever-blooming living fence.
Apart from being beautiful, these plants are also relatively fast-growing and can provide you with privacy in no time.
Make sure to pick the suitable variety for your region and plant them at least 2 to 3 feet apart to allow them to fill in quickly.
Some of them (like Yellow Forsythia) can grow from 3 to 9 feet, so you can let them go untamed per your desired height or manicured into neat bushes.
Flowers like lilacs smell lovely, and you can find these flowers in various colors; they’re even tough enough to survive the winter.
Trumpet creepers are also stunning to have for your living fence since they can attract lots of beautiful birds to your yard.
Remember that vines such as trumpet and honeysuckle need a small support system to grow, but once fully established, they are thick and provide a lot of privacy.
These can be the best options if you like the beauty of the woody shrubs for your privacy fence.
5- Container or Boxwood Plants Fence
Opt for containers instead of a permanent structure if you want a temporary plant fence.
Find some versatile and stylish containers that fit your taste as the base for your fence.
I adore this concept since you may use identical pots and vegetation or varied hues and shapes to house various plants.
Furthermore, you may shift your fence to match your changing backyard demands more simply.
You can pick some wild plants of different heights and colors for the container-type fence.
Depending on the type of plant, they can get very tall and can be used to fill different areas in your backyard or garden.
If you go the route of planting all native flora, then you won’t have to put in as much work upkeep-wise.
On the flip side, picking different species that bloom during different seasons ensures almost perpetual blooms.
Boxwood shrubs in containers are also an excellent choice for a backyard fence or hedge because their slow growth means it will take some time to form a natural barrier.
Still, once it does, the branches grow densely and thickly, forming an impenetrable wall of foliage.
If you’re patient and into fancy-shaped hedges or plant statuary, boxwood is the way to go.
6- Evergreen Tress Fence
The evergreen tree is one of the most remarkable trees for a living fence. The density of the trees, in addition to their privacy, is lovely.
Traditional evergreens shield a lot of harsh winter winds. These plants develop three feet each year on average, so you’ll be able to enjoy your solitude quickly.
Decorate your home this winter with an evergreen tree. Evergreen fencing is perfect in your home if you have a long driveway or want to add some color to your backyard.
No matter the style, many of these trees can easily grow up to 70 feet.
7- Burning Bush Living Fence
The Winged Spindle Tree, or Burning Bush, is a beautiful crimson-colored shrub that looks great in any yard or garden. This shrub features tiny fruit that attracts birds, making it ideal for birders.
The Burning Bush comes in various shapes and sizes, from “Rudy Haag” dwarf trees with a height of 3-4 feet to “Monstrous” trees that may reach 20 feet or more.
I recommend “Apterus,” about six feet tall, for the ideal Burning Bush living fence. You may sculpt it into a beautiful hedge by trimming its branches regularly.
Alternatively, leaving it alone may opt for a more natural appearance.
8- Holly Living Fence
If you think Holly is just for Christmas, I urge you to reconsider. This broadleaf evergreen has glossy, dark green foliage and produces small, white flowers in the spring.
Holly is an evergreen plant that can thrive in all climate zones, including the tropics. It produces pretty berries and makes a great addition to any garden.
Holly’s thick branches and spiky leaves make it a perfect all-year privacy hedge. Deer don’t like Holly, so you should consider this plant species if you live in an area where deer are a problem.
9- Juniper and Privet Living Fence
The foliage of junipers is particularly suited for fences. They also produce small berries that are supposed to have medicinal value and a pleasant aroma.
Junipers may attract birds and other animals to their fruits and dense foliage, making them the perfect species for your yard or garden if you like wildlife.
Unfortunately, over-pruning Junipers can cause dead areas, so be careful with the pruning.
On the other hand, the privet is a flowering plant consisting of 50 or so species of evergreen shrubs and small trees.
Due to their dense foliage growth, privets are popular as privacy hedges and fences.
Like Juniper and boxwood, privet trees can be pruned into sculptured shapes for statuary or fancy hedge designs.
And I am sure you will be happy to know deer don’t like privet, either. So if you are looking for a deer-proof privacy hedge, this is a good option.
10- Photinia Fence Evergreen Shrub
The photinia is a fast-growing evergreen shrub that may be grown in any area of your yard to create a natural fence.
It has vivid red shoots that look fantastic after they’ve been trimmed, rather than just green shrubs.
I adore robust plants such as these – these hearty bushes require little effort to plant and maintain.
They’re about 5 to 8 feet wide and grow up to 15 feet tall, making them ideal for creating an organic privacy barrier in your yard.
11- Weeping Willow and a Few Other Fantastic options
The weeping willow trees grow swiftly and resist cold climates well. These trees are also highly flexible, allowing you to bend their branches into the living fence you often dream of.
Besides that, laurel is one of the most durable house plants that can make an excellent natural barrier.
The beauty of this plant is it can even thrive in areas with air pollution so that you can use it as a living fence in cities with the massive pollution problem.
And if you’re looking for something other than those, I suggest you go for Italian Cypress, Nigra Arborvitae, or Hicksii Yew.
With the correct trimming, these plants will make an excellent living fence for your home.
Living Fence Pros and Cons
Although living fences have some cons, the pros outweigh the disadvantages.
So, I think it’s worth mentioning the drawback first.
Here are they…
- Natural living fences are not as immediate as regular fences. You can’t just put up a post and string some wire. You have to wait for the trees or shrubs to grow. And that takes time…sometimes a lot of time.
- They may require more maintenance than regular fences. For example, you may have to prune your living fence to keep it looking neat.
- They may attract deer and other animals. If you live in an area with many deer, they may see your living fence as a buffet and help themselves to the leaves, branches, flowers, and fruits.
Now for the advantages…
1- It’s a Source of Food
In addition to performing all the functions of a fence, a natural fence made of trees, shrubs, and plants can provide fuelwood, fodder, and food.
Since many produce fruits and berries, these fencing plants, along with their foliage, are consumable for humans and animals.
Dead leaves from most plants can be used for mulching and composting, and wood from the fence posts makes good firewood for small woodworking projects.
The type of plants you can choose for your fence depends on the climate and purpose, so they keep on giving back to you.
2- It’s Sustainable & Durable
The versatility of living fences makes them a sustainable alternative to regular fences.
Living fences are long-lasting investments that outlast manufactured fences.
These last as long as the lifespan of the species you select, which means it may well last hundreds of years before you need to consider renewing or replacing it.
By trimming your natural privacy fence regularly, you can encourage new growth and rejuvenate the plants for years to come, allowing you to harvest fruit and vegetables from them.
3- It Supports Ecological Diversity
Living fences, made of trees and shrubs, also provide the same function as manufactured fencing while giving extra benefits like shade and noise reduction.
Generally, there are two types of natural fences live fence posts and live barriers or hedges.
Live fence posts use plants as fencing to support other materials, whereas live barriers are made up entirely of trees or shrubs with little space in between them along property lines.
Both types of live fences promote ecological diversity. For example, they create a micro-ecosystem where other insects and small animals can build their homes.
Consequently, this encourages the conservation of local biodiversity in the area because it brings in bees, increases pollination, and ultimately increases yields in your garden or farm.
Lastly, natural fences can protect you from interlopers while providing a habitat for beneficial organisms simultaneously– talk about hitting two birds with one stone.
4- It Acts as Windbreak and a Natural Pest Control
Another good reason to build a natural fence is that they serve as a barrier to deflect and mitigate wind.
Too much wind might stress out your animals and crops, lowering the yield you get from them. When the power of the wind increases, the soil also dries out.
The land will retain more moisture, allowing you to reduce irrigation water usage.
Wind can also cause soil erosion or blow away debris. A living fence will help combat this by reducing the strength of the gusts and redirecting the wind.
This will offer protection for buildings from snow, as well as heat and cold. This will save you money on heating or cooling your home.
Furthermore, plant fences are more durable than manufactured fences because they resist termite and fungal attacks.
By housing small animals and insects in your fence’s micro-ecosystem, you create a natural barrier against harmful pests and rodents.
Often, the new organisms are predators of common crop pests – meaning fewer attacks on your plants and higher yields.
5- Brightens up Your Landscape and Strengthens the Soil
A natural tree fence, with its brilliant green leaves, blooming flowers, and fruit, will add more interest to your landscape than a typical wooden fence.
These are utilized in gardens not only for seclusion but also for aesthetic purposes.
Especially when various plant species are grown side by side to make a living hedge, you may inosculate the trees or shrubs to create a distinct appearance.
Inosculation is the process of tying up crossing branches, so they naturally join together and grow as one.
Many of these plants also benefit your soil in different ways.
When you plant a fence, the roots help secure the soil, which decreases erosion and provides essential resources to plants.
The humus (decomposed leaves/twigs) that enrich the ground comes from the same plants that create fences, and this nutrient-rich environment is perfect for sustaining future growth.
There are also leguminous fence plants that supply nitrogen to the soil.
The bacteria that dwell in these plants’ root nodules can transform atmospheric nitrogen into forms of nitrogen that can be absorbed and utilized by plants.
The leaves of leguminous trees are also high in nitrogen, making them ideal for mulching shrubs that require more nourishment.
6- Living Fences are Inexpensive and Environmentally-Friendly
Living fences are beautiful; they’re also eco-friendly and can provide you with years of privacy without affecting your budget.
Unlike many regular fences, they are not made of synthetic materials.
Compared to manufactured fences, these can be installed at a fraction of the cost. So, by growing your DIY fence this way, you can save money on costly materials.
With a manufactured fence, you’re bound to spend more money on repairing and painting it in the long run.
You sure have to put in some extra effort with a natural fence to grow and prune it yourself, but you save money because you don’t need to buy new parts or worry about repairs as often.
The initial expenditure on seeds and saplings is the only significant cost involved with constructing a living fence, which is relatively cheap.
You may also grow these plants by taking cuttings or seeds from existing plants to save even more money.
Hi, I am Mark Garner a professional carpenter, woodworker, and DIY painter. I live in the small city of Peoria, Arizona as a semi-retired woodworker. I have started this blog with a simple motive to help you with my wood experience in this sector. If you like to know more about what I love doing and how it all got started, you can check more about me here.