A neon pink twine snakes through the bare grey trees, guiding my steps as I pace off our property line. Leaves crackle underfoot and the air is heavy with the scent of autumn. Three big steps, a strong jab with my sharpened walking stick, a lunge down, and two slightly sticky seeds of Citrus Trifoliata fall in each hole. This is my last task before we flee the fast approaching winter cold.
It is basic human nature to want to define one’s space. This should not be a surprise, every animal defines a territory where it controls food, shelter, and other vital resources. While we have technically set up civilization to allow for people to survive without actually controlling any land, being without puts one in a vulnerable position – subject to the whims and wishes of others.
The most common way to demarcate property is with a modern fence composed of wood or metal posts and wire of some type. These are relatively quick to install and work very well. They are also ugly, expensive, and provide nothing but a barrier. We wanted something different.
Ever a fan of age-old techniques, I suggested we plant a hedgerow around the property line. This is much slower than putting up a modern fence, but less expensive and longer lasting. We want our boundary to produce as well as protect. After some intensive research, we chose the following plants for our hedgerow.
- Flying Dragon Orange – Citrus Trifoliata – a hardy citrus with impressive thorns. The very seedy fruit isn’t edible out of hand, but can be juiced and the very aromatic peels are great for orange oil.
- Hybrid Willow – Salix sp. – Very fast growing and great for coppicing. Medicinal properties and good for livestock fodder.
- Wild plum – Prunus Americana – Another thorny tree. Fruit is good for preserves.
- Mulberry – Morus sp. – Grows fast, coppices well. Tasty fruit and amazing for livestock fodder.
- Rugosa Rose – Rosa Rugosa – Thorny shrub with nutritious hips and makes good livestock fodder.
- Blackberry/Raspberry – Rubus sp. – Another thorny shrub with great fruit and good livestock fodder.
Our property line is 1643 feet of rocky, north sloping woods. Most of it is shaded and overgrown. We will have to experiment to see what works best. The plan is to plant everything along the entire line very close together, weed out what doesn’t work, and thin and coppice anything that works too well.
It will take several years, but in the end our hedgerow will provide us with privacy, kindling, livestock fodder, fruit, and peace of mind.