Best hedge plants for life fences and privacy

Kei Apple hedge with a house background

Nothing compares to natural beauty. If you are looking for privacy of your home or property, there are number of plants you can plant on your perimeter to make a life fence. You can professionally shear and landscape the evergreen and flowering shrubs to make beautiful driveways and gardens in front of your farm.

You can plant many types of plants on your fence. However, which ones are the best for landscaping and easy blending with the well-manicured grass on your compound.  In this post, we give you a list of the best plants to plant on your fence. The ones listed here will give you privacy, safety from trespass, security and beauty at the same time. Besides the article makes a case be looking into benefits of hedges vs permanent fences and concludes with a guide for homeowners and landscapers on how to choose the best plants for your life fences.

A list of the best types of hedge plants

red and pink blooming hedge

Which is the best plant species for strong hedges you grow for best fences for homeowners and landscapers? In our list, we have listed ten of the best ones widely used in Kenya’s rural and urban areas. These are;-

  1. Bougainvillea
  2. Kei-apple
  3. Duranta
  4. Cypress
  5. Lantana
  6. Bamboo
  7. Tithonia
  8. Cacti
  9. Acacia
  10. Finger Euphorbia

Bougainvillea

This plant type originates from South America. It is now widely distributed throughout the tropics. The evergreen crop has a small actual white flower that is shielded by a cluster of three brightly colored bracts. Landscapers have interbred Bougainvillea species into many different flower colors, growth forms and hybrids. The common types available in Kenya have long vines that can climb up to 12 meters with long strong thorns. You can interwove the vines into strong impenetrable hedges for security as well as beauty.

You will propagate the Bougainvillea hedges from cuttings. Plant them in a 1m by 1m by 60cm deep with well-packed compost and bone meal. Train it early in its growth stages. Otherwise, it will grow wild into thick overgrown bushes

Kei-apple

Kei-apple is also known as the dovyaliscaffra or Iberia caffra. The species is native to Namibia in Southwest Africa along the River Kei.  The species does well in sandy soils making it more suitable for lowlands, coastal and areas with saline soils.  The crop has many thorns and among the best hedges for security hedges from intrusion by wild and livestock animals. The crop is drought resistant.

You can make a Kei-apple fence from seeds or seedlings. The recommended spacing is 3 to 5 ft (0.9-1.5 m) apart. To note, the plant is unfit for land fences. It produces a biochemical that inhibits the growth of other nearby plants.

The plant belongs to the family Flacourtiaceae. Besides its use as a hedge, you can use its fruits as for human food. Its recipe ideas include making jam and jelly, and, when unripe, pickles.

Cypress

Apart from the variegata duranta, other types you can choose are the “Sapphire Showers’ duranta, White duranta and the gold edge duranta.

Cypress is one of the best coniferous hedge plant in areas with high rainfall. Its hedges are lush, pretty and fast growing. Once you establish it, it is free of maintenance. The species is drought and heat resistance. Since they have a thick growth, they are the best choice hedge plant for privacy. Besides, their Soft foliage and non-prickly greenery is great for families with kids and dogs!

The recommended spacing distance for cypress hedge is 6 to 10 feet apart for quick privacy. For straight-line traditional privacy, plant your trees about 8 to 10 feet apart.  If you are looking for security consider a spacing of approximately 6 to 8 feet apart on a diagonal or zigzag pattern by planting them in 2 rows.

The three types of cypress trees in Kenya are the Monterey Cypress, Italian cypress, or the Arizona cypress. Besides the cypress species, the other related trees of the same family are the junipers, thuja green giants, cedar, and fir.

Duranta

well trimmed duranta hedge

The variegata Duranta is the most common hedge plant from more than 30 different species of the evergreen plant. It is one of the best choice if you are looking for ornamental hedges.  The species has beautiful variegate varieties where some have solid golden leaves, other types have light green leaves centered with a golden edge, and some even have a white or cream variegated leaves.

Duranta hedges are easy to establish in well-drained moist and fertile soils. They grow extremely fast and need frequent pruning. Some varieties can also have small thorns making it a good choice for security pathways.

Bamboo

Bamboo fences are fast growing and very low in terms of maintenance. The bamboo are extremely invasive and you may consider the less invasive types or grow them in containers placed along the fence.  

For a living barrier fence, order for the Hedge bamboos either the Phyllostachys glauca or the Bambusa guangxiensis. These types have strikingly beautiful canes that grow compact. The two are naturally bushy right down to the ground. It will give you a beautiful bamboo hedge with a very graceful appearance.

Lantana

red lantana hedge

Lantana hedges (Lantana spp.) hedges can bloom all summer, attracting hosts of bees, butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden. It has bushy growth habit and its blooming makes it a good candidate for a hedge. The Lantana species is tolerant to most soil types, but prefers rich, well-draining soil that is slightly acidic. Mulch with pine needles to increase soil acidity. Lantana can reach 2 to 6 feet tall and 3 to 10 feet wide. Though there are 150 different species, those most widely available to home gardeners are Lantana camara and modern hybrids.

To get a good hedge, plant it at a spacing of 36-48 inches (90-120 cm). You can propagate it using stem cuttings. You can plant the Pink, Magenta (pink-purple), Red, Orange, Bright Yellow or the Medium Purple types.

Tithonia

Tithonia or the Mexican sunflower is one of the widely used hedges in Kenya. It is a multipurpose plant and can use it for ruminant and rabbit fodder, fuel, compost and land demarcation. It is native to Central America and Mexico.

You can easily propagate tithonia hedge by direct seeding or by planting of 20-30 cm long cuttings from green stems, at a spacing of 0.5-0.75 m x 0.75 m The plant produced large quantities of biomass you can use to make green manure.

Cactus Plants

The above seven (7) hedge plants are best for areas with high or medium rainfall volumes. The last three are suitable for areas classified as either arid or semi-arid. These comprise almost 80 % of land mass in Kenya.  These include the cacti, acacia and euphorbia tree types.

You can grow more than 1500 cactus species and varieties. Cacti plants are succulent plants. They have fleshy, water-storing branches. Cacti are drought tolerant and survive well during warm, dry periods, making them an easy-to-care-for landscape plant. Check for spacing requirements on the cactus variety before planting. The best cactus types you can establish for your fences and landscaping are-

  • Buckthorn cholla,
  • Barrel cactus,
  • Prickly pears,
  • Aloe Veras
  • Agaves (Sisals)
  • Totem pole cactus
  • Saguaro Cactus
  • San Pedro Cactus

Acacia Species

Acacia species has hardy thorns that easily deter livestock and humans from farms and your home. The three types you can use for hedges are the Acacia brevispica, Acacia nilotica, Acacia tortilis. These are most suitable in areas classified as dry semi-arid like Isiolo and wajir counties To use acacia for hedges exercise caution as they may be too thorny to have near houses as children may suffer

 Finger Euphorbia

 finger euphorbia fence with grevillea trees

The last hedge plant in our list is the finger euphorbia or the pencil cactus. Its local names are Kamba (Ndau), Kikuyu (kariaria) or Swahili (Mtupa mwitu). It is an extensively used hedge plant in dry, hot areas. areas of East Africa. It is easy to establish and an ideal species for agroforestry offering little shade and do not affect soil fertility like Kei-apple.

You can propagate the kariaria fences from cuttings. Plant them close together for strong non-penetrable fences. To make sure it does not grow wild, trim and top-prune it regularly.

Why live fences?

Apart from upgrading your home from a stone and glass and lifeless apartment to a leafy suburb. Here are the other benefits of growing the fast hedge plants for life fences listed in this post. These are; –

Use hedges to mark a boundaries, whether between properties or within them.

These natural barriers will keep away human or livestock intruders to your property for security and safety. Besides, the life fences can greatly improve the privacy of your homes, offices and other private facilities like child swimming pools and basket courts.

It is cheaper to establish and maintain a hedge fence on your perimeter wall, walkways and drive ways than constructing expensive permanent walls. What would be the cost of fencing a quarter acre lot that requires 209 feet (64 meters) of fencing? According to fixr study, the cost making a stone or timber fence with labor and materials ranges from $2,270 to $5,760. On the other hand, the overall cost to establish a hedge is $1,730 to $2,350.  

Natural fences has aesthetic value in colors, aroma and beauty and add to the overall appeal of a landscape. Trees and shrubs can attract songbirds, butterflies, bees and other desirable fauna. Hedges are windbreakers, absorb noise and dust keeping your property safe.  Besides the hedges will absorb sun heat keeping your place cool. Finally, natural fences are eco-friendly, reduce global warming and promote conservation by planting trees, reduce erosion flooding and act as natural temperature regulators

How to choose the best plant for your fence

hedge walk way near a house

To establish a plant, you will plant hedge plants in a line of closely spaced trees or shrubs. The type of plants you will chose depends on the purpose, location and your agro-climatic patterns of your area among other factors.

Choose plant types that are easy to establish and are succulent or evergreen throughout the year.

Look for herbs types that do not lower farm productivity if you are marking land boundaries.

Indigenous species grow naturally and easy to augment in your region, However they take long to mature, you may have to plant exotic species if you are looking for fast growing hedges

If you are looking for privacy, grow the type of herbs that grow thick and can grow taller than an adult in height. Examples include the coniferous species like pine and cypress, Kei apple and the white bottlebrush.

In terms of climate, drought resistant tree types like yellow Oleander are more suitable in hot lowlands.  If you are in a wetter highland, you can grow cypress.

To achieve security, combine the fence with a chain link, barbed wire fence and consider plants that has thorns like Kei-apple, acacia species and bougainvillea to discourage human and animal intruders.

In terms of the most beautiful hedge, look for flowering or ornamental species like rose flowers and hibiscus that your will interwove and train into beautifully trimmed hedges.

Your hedge many be vulnerable to diseases and pests, to avoid losing the whole fence in case of an attack, grow a mixed hedge made of different plant types that can complement each other.

Finally, consider growing multipurpose types that you can use for Fence, Fuel (Firewood), Fertility (Fertiliser), Food, Fodder and Fibre. Examples of these are the legume trees like the Calliandra, Leucaena and Sesbania. You can prune them for animal fodder and use the dry branches for firewood. The fast growing trees act as windbreakers. Besides, you will enjoy from nitrogen fixation to help on soil fertility.

For human food, some communities establish hedges made of guava and mulberry for fruits or the moringa trees for vegetables. Additionally, you can train climbing vines into the hedged for fruits and vegetables. The most common species incorporated in these are the passion fruits, aerial yams, air potatoes, chayotes and cucurbit family species like the gourds, luffa and pumpkins.

Samuel K

Samuel is the founder and senior agribusiness development consultant at Agcenture. He can be reached at skibicho@agcenture.com

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1 Response

  1. muthoni says:

    Have tried bamboo and it failed many times even after watering.what could be the reason?

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