USED TO BE, before chain link, people had to craft their own fences. Some were made of upright wood palings - poles stood up like around a fort- or planks affixed to posts either upright (picket) or sideways. Sometimes people would weave small limber branches between posts, called "wattle" fencing.

But to enclose large areas, especially those needing to keep livestock in, people grew their own fences - called hedgerows. Good hedgerow plant choices for this in the South would be ligustrum, crape myrtles, cleyera, ash, willow, oak, parsley hawthorn, hollies, and althea (rose of Sharon).

The process is simple, and surprisingly fast to get established; hedgerows can last for decades, even centuries, with a little maintenance. It starts with planting a row of small seedling trees or rooted shrub cuttings, usually a foot or so apart, and letting them get two or three years old, so their trunks are about two or three inches in diameter. Once they are big enough, the plants are cut halfway through near the ground with a saw or an axe, and bent over nearly parallel to the ground, then tied down to one another or to upright posts set every two or three yards. This makes an almost impenetrable wall on its own. Weaving small branches or vines along the top gives it a finished look. To make it even thicker, and long lasting, new shoots usually grow straight up from the plants, both at their cut base and along the still-living bent trunks.

 

Plant very small trees or fast growing shrubs close together (plastic sleeves protect against rabbits, deer, and string trimmers).

 

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When they get some size on them, cut the plants nearly in half, and lay them over in a line, tying them as you go; for stability, insert a few branches every few feet; weaving vines or small branches along the top gives it even more stability and looks good.

 

 

Eventually small shoots will grow upwards from bent stems, further knitting it all together.

 

To maintain a hedgerow, keeping it thick and neat, and to keep new growth coming along all the time, simply shear the new growth once a year. It can seem brutal when done with machinery, but it rarely harms the plants - no more than shearing harms regular hedge plants.

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The English countryside is laced with hundreds of miles of hedgerows done exactly like outlined above.