March 22, 2023

Living fence - noun

Definition: An intruder-proof (livestock or human) barrier composed of trees and shrubs that are densely planted around the perimeter of a field.

Living fences in the Forest Garden:

Before farmers begin planting higher value crops in their Forest Gardens, they start their Forest Gardens by planting a living fence. From grazing livestock to mischievous children to unwanted intruders, protection is an essential first step in establishing a Forest Garden. 

Farmers establish a living fence by planting at least 2 rows of fast-growing agroforestry trees. Not only will these trees provide much needed protection from intruders, but they will also serve as a windbreak and provide additional benefits like fuelwood, forage, food, and green fertilizer. 

Trees for the Future recommends a 3-row composition, which we call a Green Wall,with the following characteristics: 

  • Outer row – Thorny species planted close together to form a thick hedge. Early, regular pruning, as well as weaving branches, will increase density and protection. 
  • Middle row – Fast-growing, sturdy trees to support and fortify. These trees should be pruned to create low and mid-level barriers. 
  • Inner row – Tall, fast-growing trees. These trees should be more sparsely spaced and allowed to grow. 

To read more about living fences, check out Chapter 8 of the Technical Manual. 

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