How to Plant a Living Fence: Fast-Growing Plant Cover Fence

Many homeowners face the challenge of trying to conceal unsightly chain link fences.

Chain link fencing may be simple and cheap to put up, but it can’t compare to the elegance of wood or stone fences.

A beautiful and economical fence may be yours with only a little bit of time spent learning how to plant a living fence using a fast-growing plant to cover fence sections.

Chain link fences can be concealed with plants, but care must be taken with a few key factors.

To help you choose the right plant, it’s important to first consider the function of the fence plants in question.

  • Do you want flowering vines for fences or foliage vines?
  • Do you want an evergreen vine or a deciduous vine?
  • Do you want an annual vine or a perennial vine?

Each choice is significantly based on what you want for your fence.

Flowering Vines for Fences

If you would like to look at flowering vines for fences, you have several choices.

If you would like a fast-growing plant to cover the fence, you will want an annual. Some annual flowering vines for fences include:

  • Hyacinth Bean
  • Black-eyed Susan Vine
  • Passion Flower
  • Morning Glory
  • Hops

If you were looking for some perennial flowering vines for fences, these would include:

  • Trumpet vine
  • Clematis
  • Climbing Hydrangea
  • Honeysuckle
  • Wisteria
  • Dutchman’s Pipe
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Evergreen and Foliage Plants That Grow on Fences

Planting evergreen shrubs or trees along your fence line is an easy way to keep your fence looking great year-round.

They can also act as a backdrop for your other plants or as a source of wintertime visual interest in the garden.

Among the evergreen vines that can be used to conceal unsightly chain link fences are:

  • Persian Ivy
  • English Ivy
  • Boston Ivy
  • Creeping Fig
  • Carolina Jessamine

Non-evergreen plants that are heavy on leaves can create a stunning and unexpected background for your garden.

Vines that cover fences typically have interesting leaves, such as those that are variegated or have brilliant fall colors.

If you want to add some foliage to your fence, consider:

  • Hardy Kiwi
  • Variegated Porcelain
  • Vine Virginia
  • Creeper Silver
  • Fleece Vine
  • Purple Leaved Grape

Learning how to grow a living fence using vines is the first step in making your chain link fence more aesthetically pleasing.

There is a wide variety of vines suitable for growing around fences.

You may select a vine to fit your needs, whether you want something fast-growing to cover a fence or something that provides interest all year long.

Many Benefits of Living Fences

A living fence is a permanent hedge that is dense and sturdy enough to perform the same activities as a manufactured fence but also provides additional benefits in the areas of agriculture and biology.

Providing “edge habitat,” for instance, helps preserve biological diversity.

As more species (insects, spiders, toads, snakes, birds, and mammals) find food and refuge in this habitat, natural balances arise, giving, for example, a reduction of rodents and crop-damaging insect populations.

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Living fences can serve multiple purposes, depending on the plant or tree species you use. Having a thick hedge to provide shade for your animals is a win-win.

Some hedge plants, including elder and Chinese chestnut, have more protein in their leaves than alfalfa, the gold standard of protein fodder crops.

The feed can also be made from willow and honey locust trees.

Recently, I’ve been playing around with the Siberian pea shrub, as its fruit can be used as a source of protein for chickens.

Black locust and pea shrub, two leguminous fence species, fix nitrogen in the soil throughout the root zone, and their leafy prunings can be used as garden mulch or compost.

Because plants in a living fence lose some of their top growth to pruning and browsing, the soil benefits from the decay of the living fence’s leaf litter and root hairs.

As windbreaks, living fences keep the soil from drying up and lessen the strain on cattle or crops. Hedges sited along contours help prevent rainfall erosion on slopes.

In comparison to man-made fences, living fences can persist for hundreds of years, or as long as the species employed in the fence grows naturally.

Coppicing is a technique that can be used on many different types of trees since it encourages the growth of additional branches after the main trunk has been severed.

A live fence of a coppiced species easily renews itself following selective harvesting for wood fuel and other uses.

Finally, a living fence, unlike a static artificial fence, gives an ever-changing beauty to your landscape: flowers in spring, bright fruit in summer, dazzling colors in fall, and a complex, geometric structure in winter.

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Establishing Living Fences

By closely spacing appropriate shrub or tree species grown from nursery plants, stem or root cuttings, or seeds, homesteaders can create living fences.

The young trees are clipped severely so that they develop into full, dense bushes that can’t be seen through.

A unique alternative is to “inoculate” the plants together.

Space for inoculated plants and shrubs is between 4 and 8 inches.

Crossing branches are tied as they develop, and eventually, the knots dissolve, resulting in spontaneous grafts.

The end outcome is a highly effective and impenetrable barrier with tighter and tighter mesh each year.


Installing a living fence can be time-consuming and labor-intensive; for every 100 feet of fence, 450 seeds or cuttings will need to be planted.

Before the fence gets well-established, you’ll need to take care to protect it from weeds, deer, and domesticated browsers.

Regular pruning of the mature fence may be essential. If the trimmings are put to good use as mulch or animal feed, pruning is rarely wasted work; in fact, in some circumstances, grazing cattle can be relied upon to perform the task.

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