“Fences can be essential on the homestead. They define property boundaries, separate production zones (garden, pasture, orchard) inside the property, provide privacy, and ensure security from animal (and perhaps human) intruders. They confine livestock where we want them, and protect them from predators. They protect crop areas from both wild marauders, such as deer, and from our own animal allies such as sheep and goats.
Benefits of Living Fences
A living fence, often traditionally called a hedgerow, is a permanent hedge tight enough and tough enough to serve any of the functions of a manufactured fence—privacy and security, livestock control, protection of crops—but which offers many biological and agricultural services the manufactured fence cannot. A living fence is an excellent example of “edge habitat” so supportive of ecological diversity on the homestead. As more species find food and habitat there—insects, spiders, toads, snakes, birds, mammals—we are more likely to see the emergence of natural balances advantageous to us, which may yield for example reduction of problem insect or rodent populations.
Depending on species used, living fences can in addition provide food and medicines for people; feedstocks for production of biofuels; fodder for livestock. Indeed, appropriate fodder trees can be even more productive of livestock feed value than pasture on a per-unit basis; and the foliage of some of them contains more protein than that quintessential protein forage crop, alfalfa: elder, Chinese chestnut, mulberry—while willow and honey locust are not far behind. Livestock also benefit from the shade of a dense living fence.”