Gardening is one of the most ecologically conscious projects that most people can practice. With concepts such as net-zero gardening taking shape, gardeners go to unimaginable lengths to avoid harming the environment. The one aspect most gardeners never consider is that a garden fence can have negative environmental effects and must be installed with consciousness. Creating a sustainable garden only to install an unsustainable fence negates the entire purpose of your project. Interestingly, installing a sustainable fence is easy and often more affordable than traditional options.
While we cannot pin the term sustainable to any single act, you may already have an idea of what a sustainable fence entails. Essentially, it is any fence that is ecologically and environmentally sensitive. In this view, even the slightest efforts to cut down greenhouse gasses, reduce water wastage and preserve nature are welcome.
To build a sustainable garden fence, consider using materials that are less harmful to the environment. For a long time, gardeners have relied on plastic and wood fences. In our sustainably sensitive society, things have changed. Gardeners now use biodegradable materials or those that are at least produced with minimal greenhouse pollution. Sustainable fencing also considers options that are less energy-consuming and ones that save natural resources such as water.
Given that sustainability is a multifaceted subject, make your decisions very carefully. For instance, going for a living fence made out of plants can help reduce atmospheric carbon pollution. However, if you plant trees that are water-thirsty on your fence, you may also end up hurting the limited water resources. It is therefore important to balance all aspects of sustainability as you build your garden fence.
With these factors at the back of your mind, here are five ideas for a sustainable garden fence.
1. Bamboo wood fence
Bamboo is one of the world’s fastest-growing plants. Some species of bamboo can grow by as much as three feet per day, according to One Tree. Note that bamboo is actually grass and not a tree and hence the fast growth rate. Interestingly, bamboo can grow up to 90 feet tall at maturity. For a plant that is easy to grow, using it as a fence is a sustainable step.
When it comes to fencing, bamboo is really among the top sustainable options. It boasts natural patterns that make it a beauty to behold. Secondly, it is one of the hardest and most durable plants on earth. When used on fencing, you should expect a considerably long lifespan of up to 20 years without any signs of weakness.
On the downside, bamboo might not be readily available in a market near you. If this is the case, consider growing your own. Bamboo is well tolerant to different types of climates and grows pretty fast.
2. Rustic stone fence
A stone fence offers plenty of benefits apart from being sustainable. First, it is probably one of the most durable fencing options. Stones can last for centuries as long as they are well-installed. While you might need to use cement in some cases, there are stone fences that can be built entirely without introducing concrete. Stones are natural and will not introduce any chemicals to the environment.
Secondly, even if you decide to bring down the stone fence at some point, the final waste is natural earth. You will not have any foreign matter polluting the surface. Most importantly, stones are cheaper than most of the other fencing materials used.
You have several stone options to choose from, including travertine, marble and granite. Choose a stone color that blends easily with your garden for aesthetics.
3. Biocomposite fencing material
Today, there are many types of biocomposite building materials. These are mainly fencing or construction materials made from fully or partially organic compounds. These materials act as a replacement for traditional construction options that do not pay much attention to sustainability. Some examples are Natures Composites fencing made from a combination of used plastic and natural wheat straw. Recycled Plastic Concrete can also fall under this category.
The best part is that you get access to diverse colors for your fence beautification. The other advantage of such materials is that they are stronger and way more durable than plastic. The downside of such a fence is that it may be slightly more costly. Traditional materials such as wood and plastic are easily available. On the other hand, special composite materials may be slightly costly.
4. Plant a living fence
The living fence is one of the oldest ideas of fencing. Before humans started fencing their compounds with steel and concrete, plants were used to decorate and protect homes. The same idea is still widely applicable and can be used in your garden. The best part of using a living fence is that you do not have to introduce any non-organic material.
With the living fence, all you have to do is find a plant that covers the spaces well. Some plants that do well on the fence are the Leyland cypress, boxwood and honeysuckle. When choosing a plant to use on the fence, go for one that is attractive but also efficient in water consumption. Avoid plants that are water hungry such as white cedar and river birch if you will be using your tap water to irrigate. For those in regions that receive plenty of precipitation, there is no need to worry about water consumption.
Although the living fence ticks so many boxes in terms of sustainability and costs, it requires patience. Some green fencing plants could take as long as five years before taking shape. This means that you must be patient as you wait for your fence to mature. You must also be extra careful so that your tender plants do not get damaged by animals and humans.
The other key component of a living fence is the need to get rid of pests. Avoid planting trees or flowers that are susceptible to pests. Such may require using too many pesticides to the detriment of the environment.
5. Reclaimed lumber fencing
Recycling and reusing are part of sustainability. Reclaiming what would have become waste is one way to reduce clutter in the environment. If you have unused wood at home, work on them to make a fence. There are also timber yards that sell reclaimed lumber. This type of wood is much cheaper than purchasing fresh timber. Secondly, using reclaimed wood helps reduce deforestation in the long run.
Fencing with reclaimed wood has its disadvantages. One of the main factors that come out is the durability of the fence. Reclaimed wood has a much shorter lifespan than fresh wood. Even so, with appropriate treatment to fend off pests, the fence could last. Reclaimed wood is, therefore, best used in regions that are not commonly affected by wood-eating pests.
If you are considering a sustainable garden fence, there are many options to choose from. However, they are not without their disadvantages. When installing a sustainable fence, consider its value to the environment, the cost of installation and its durability. Always weigh the negatives against the positives. At the end of the day, sustainability is a matter of making choices and accounting for their consequences.
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