Good fences make good neighbors.
Fences in and around your garden can create spaces, cause problems, or they can be sturdy helpers. How do fences impact your garden?
Fences add perspective
While some gardeners (farmers) prefer wide-open, Nebraska-style landscapes, fencing can create manageable spaces. Short fences can line pathways, providing support to a row of tarragon, oregano, or sweet peppers, while a medium-sized fence can block a view of your pool pump and provide afternoon shade for more delicate plants, such as currants. Tall fences create a sense of security and privacy. They also provide structure for vining plants.
Fencing materials have an impact, too. A solid brick or stone fence has a very different feel than a crisp white picket fence, a rustic pole fence, or a cedar plank fence. The materials and the construction method used alter the look and feel of your property and your garden. They also impact the way your plants grow.
Fences as barriers
Neighborhood fences are a great way to keep kids and pets safely at home. A good fence can also block garden invaders, such as deer, gophers, squirrels, chipmunks, and rats. Of course, some of those pests will need more than a wattle fence (or a very tall fence, in the case of deer) to slow them down, but fences provide a good starting point. For burrowing pests, such as voles and rabbits, the fencing material needs to go underground a ways to be effective.
Fences and air flow
A solid fence can provide serious protection against strong winds. Rather than tearing through your garden, leaving broken stems and branches in its wake, the wind is pushed over and around your sanctuary, keeping everything safe. Sometimes that safety comes at a price: poor air flow. In gardens prone to fungal diseases, poor air flow is a liability. If you have a solid fence and fungal problems in your garden, judicious pruning for good air flow and proper plant spacing can counteract these problems.
Fences as climbing structures
Fences make it easy to grow vines and other climbing plants. They also provide a great support for espaliered fruit and nut trees. Fences can also be used in tandem with planting containers. A mounted rain gutter with end caps can transform a bare fence into a strawberry wall. Short walls or railings provide the support needed for container plants that a re prefect for growing herbs, lettuces, Swiss chards, spinach, and many other edibles, without taking up extra space. Fences are also a great place to hang garden tools!
Fences block sunlight
The same fences that offer protection from wind and marauding pests are the same structures that can block much-needed sunlight. Most garden plants need at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight each day to thrive. If you have fences, it is important that you take the time to see how much sunlight nearby plants actually get. While a west-facing fence may offer respite from scorching summer afternoon sunlight, an east-facing fence will only provide that protection to your neighbor’s plants.
Some fencing materials, such as chain link or stone, require very little care. Other fences, particularly those made out of wood, have some special needs. Since wod can rot, these tips will help your wood fence last longer:
Make the most out of the fences in and around your garden or foodscape. And, if you have the time, do an online search for “unique garden fence ideas.” There are some gorgeous, creative, stunning ideas out there!
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!
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