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Perennials may control weeds along fences

Kill mulching along a fenceline

Honeysuckle on fenceFencelines are a problem.  If you're not willing to use herbicides, weeds tend to grow up along and through them, and if you've got vines like Japanese honeysuckle around, the fence might soon bow down under the weight of the plant life. 

Even though chickens like the protected areas behind these "vine hedges", I'd rather keep the chaos a bit controlled.  One hypothesis I have for achieving that control without too much work is that a vigorous planting right along the outside edge of a fenceline will keep weeds at bay but will not be demolished by chicken beaks.  If the plants want to spread, they can grow into the pasture and be eaten, but some will always stay protected on the outside.

Newly planted comfreyComfrey and Jerusalem artichokes seemed like good fits for this fenceline planting, so I kill mulched about ten feet of fenceline and installed our living weed barrier.  The comfrey is the Bocking 4 I ordered from Coe's Comfrey a few weeks ago --- it came in great shape, three for the price of two.  I've got plenty of my unknown-variety comfrey that I can spread along other fencelines next year if this experiment works, and both the Bocking 4 and Jerusalem artichokes should be ready to divide up in a year or two as well.

Do you have a favorite way of maintaining fencelines without a lot of work or chemicals?

The Avian Aqua Miser is a POOP-free chicken waterer that makes chicken-keeping fun.

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From my very little experience, i've found B4 mucg more difficult to propagate than B14. I've read that chicken are more prone to eat b4 than B14, so this might be good for your chicken, but not for your confrey groundcover

thanks for all great infos

Comment by Nicolas terribly early Tuesday morning, December 11th, 2012

Subject says it all. Goats are great at keeping weeds down. And anything else that grows. And your fences too, given half a chance. We've already lost two apple trees, had several holes in our fences, and repeated break outs.

I love our goats, but they're a handful. They're cheap to feed, and give excellent milk, but costly in terms of fencing (you either pay for a fence that can keep them in, or you pay for the damage they can do if they get out).

Either way, they do keep both sides of their fence squeaky clean.

Comment by rhesa Saturday afternoon, December 15th, 2012
Rhesa --- We seriously considered goats (or sheep) for that purpose, but building more serious fences seemed like a lot more effort than just patrolling for weeds ourselves. :-) We may still go there someday when everything else is under control and we're ready for another big undertaking, but for now, I think we'll stick to manpower.
Comment by anna at noon on Monday, December 17th, 2012
Nicolas --- Interesting data point! I'm okay with this particular spot of comfrey not taking over the world if the chickens really like it. I'm glad I have another variety to compare it to, though.
Comment by anna at lunch time on Monday, December 17th, 2012

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