DIY: 3 Steps to Building a Living Fence

 

living fence
Photo by Maxwell Young

One of the most popular landscaping trends out right now is the living wall. For those unfamiliar with this term, it’s essentially when you train small trees to grow into decorative patterns. This gives the illusion of privacy that so many people crave. Learn how you can direct your trees to form a living fence while keeping your backyard looking as beautiful and kept as ever.

Supplies

– Three or more trees

– 4 x 4 posts (treated for contact with soil)

– 2 x 4 top rail, 8 feet long

– 14-gauge wire

– Hand pruners

– Cloth-covered wire plant ties

What To Do Step-by-Step

1. Prepare the area

First off, you will need to select the pattern for your living fence. From the diamond to the diagonal design, there are a bunch of different options to choose from. However, the decision is solely up to you. Once you figure out which one you want, it’s time to start building a suitable framework of posts using your top rail and heavy-gauge wire horizontal supports. To do this, stretch the wire tightly from post to post, spaced vertically at about 1-foot intervals. Keep in mind that the posts should be roughly 8 feet apart.

2. Anchor the plants

To begin growing your plants, make a bunch of holes in the soil that are at least twice the diameter of the plant’s root ball. We recommend growing the trees slightly in front of the wire supports. Refill the holes and make sure to water the plants when needed. For instance, if there hasn’t been a lot of rain, you’ll have to water young trees weekly during their first summer and fall. Remember, though: if there are any branches spreading to the back or front, they need to be cut. Branches extending to the side are fine.

3. Train the plants to form a living fence

To do this, take branches from nearby trees and begin crisscrossing them. This ultimately guides them into the pattern you’re hoping to achieve. Next, lock the branches and wire together by twisting a plant tie around them. Leave some room, just in case the branches continue growing. Then as time goes on, keep crossing and tying the branches to the framework, snipping away any unwanted growth that goes against the pattern.