Living Fences: Natural, Sustainable Privacy Solutions

Did you know that George Washington dreamed of having an extensive system of living fences and was one of the first Americans to try to propagate a living fence? Like so many of us, his various attempts were continually thwarted by deer! In honor of his idea, there is now a Honey Locust hedge at Mount Vernon. Traditionally, living fences have not been commonplace in the United States. This is curious considering their popularity throughout history in Europe, with the majority of the settlers in America having European decent. Nonetheless, living fences are becoming more and more popular in the United States as people shift their thinking into being eco-minded, even in their landscaping. There are a lot of benefits to designing, installing, and owning living fences, here are just a few.

bamboo works great for living fences
Bamboo is a low-maintenance option for living fences.

Benefits of a Living Fence

  • They can provide a source of food. Think about small fruit trees or grapes.
  • They create a habitat for birds and wildlife in your yard or keep predators that may harm pets out. For the most protection, choose a plant with thorns!
  • In rural areas, living fences provide a wind break for livestock or crops. In urban areas, living fences can provide wind  protection to pets, chickens or other sensitive plants.
  • It can be a source of medicine. Consider planting something medicinal.
  • Plants provide a great sound barrier from streets, sidewalks, or loud-mouthed neighbors.
  • Living fences can last much longer than a man-made fence.
  • Living fences add beauty and enhances your landscape design.

Living Fences: Plant Ideas

Oregon grape makes a great living fence
Oregon Grape is a great native choice for a living fence.

Wondering what sort of plants you can use for a living fence? There are a lot of options. Apple and pear trees work well if you are looking for an additional food source. Trees and plants with pliable branches work the best. Considering Oregon’s perfect climate for filberts, hazelnut trees are another great option. Or consider red-twig or yellow-twig dogwood. Want flowers? Some good options might be Fothergilla, smoke bush or a Oregonian favorite, Oregon Grape.

As far as evergreens go, we like Japanese holly. And there is always sturdy old bamboo. For those with busy lives, bamboo is an elegant, sustainable solution. Bamboo is particularly low maintenance and one of the fastest growing plants in existence. With over 1,000 varieties, you can match your style and personality with a bamboo of your choice. If you want something a bit different, think about black bamboo.

For more resources on yard ideas and landscaping tips, follow-up this article with some of our other blog posts:

Want more ideas for living fences? Call All Oregon Landscaping to discuss how we can help you build a living fence where you need it most.

Bamboo Photo By François Obada (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC-BY-2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Oregon Grape Photo By Tersk, Lauren (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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