Alternatives to Hunter Fence and Tree hedge
With the support of the environmental senator, we have set up a varied exhibition around the garden fence in Vahrer Feldweg. There is a lot to see, from walls to gabions to trellises and living fences. You are very welcome!
In California we have set up all possible ecologically sensible variants of the garden fence over a length of 80 meters. Some things still take years before the plant world has conquered it in such a way that it creates a value for nature. Many exhibits are simply meant to stimulate your imagination. Hedges are not included because they are such a wonderfully diverse subject that we want to dedicate an extra page to them.
You can visit the exhibition during our opening hours. We have put the explanations of the stations on the Internet for you to browse through.
We have assessed the individual elements according to effort and nature benefits – the colorful quick overview in the form of a traffic light can only be found in the original, analogue on site – any incentive to look at the beautiful exhibition is needed …
“Nature benefits” – under this Keyword we have ecologically evaluated the fence element itself and give suggestions for upgrading plants and animals.
“Effort” – Under this point we show roughly the effort and costs and the pitfalls of creating and maintaining the fence element. The division and evaluation is not easy: some fences need a lot of work to set up and are then completely maintenance-free, with other elements it is exactly the opposite.
“Special features” – Here there are references to particularly ecological processes, curious and other interesting things.
No way dead!
Anyone who has a lot of trees knows the problem: where to put the clippings? You can see the best answer here. The branches and twigs are piled up to form a dead wood hedge and every year there is space for a new layer due to the rotting process. So you invest a minimum of energy and create one of the most exciting living spaces in the garden.
Use of nature
Even if the word “dead wood hedge” sounds morbid, it is a paradise of life! Thousands of species of fungi, bacteria and insects decompose the branches and are themselves food for predatory species. Hedgehogs, mice, wren, robins, slow worms, common toads and many other animals find shelter in dead wood, they breed or oversleep the winter there.
Dead wood is demonstrably not an “infection focus” but an important part of the food web and is home to an enormous number of beneficial organisms.
For an effective dead wood hedge or heap, the height / width / length should each be at least 1.5 meters, there are no limits to the top. The hedge can be kept in good shape with wooden posts rammed in on the left and right.
When stacking, you should always cut the transverse branches so that the hedge is packed tightly. Otherwise it collapses within a few weeks because the material works and gives way.
Leave the work to nature, a shredder or chopper is a useless waste of energy.
Wicker fence intertwined – since our example still has to grow vigorously, here is a sample picture.
The intertwined branches of different willows create a dense bush. Willows typically react to cuts and breaks with new shoots. Small willows are more suitable for gardens, e.g. B.
• Ear willow (approx. 3 m),
• Gray willow (approx. 4 m),
• Basket willow (approx. 5 m) or
• Purple willow (approx. 6 m).
Broken, laurel, ripe and goat willow makes sense in larger gardens, you can cut them.
Be careful with the white willow, it will become a real tree (> 20 m).
Willows bloom very early in the year, bees need the protein-rich pollen for the first brood after winter.
Its leaves feed hundreds of animal species, including a particularly large number of butterflies. The soft and hardly durable wood invites impressive insects like the willow borer. The matted branch is a safe breeding ground for wren, robins & Co. Rotted trunks later offer natural caves for birds and bats.
If you cut willow cuttings yourself, there are no costs (this doesn’t work with goat willows!). In good garden centers and (forestry) tree nurseries, local pastures are quite cheap. The pastures shoot very well on good, moist soils, then interweaving and pruning does about a month’s work in summer.
Willow branches provide natural trace elements as cattle feed. Did you know that aspirin precursors were made from willow bark? With willow pruning, you can weave or create new living hedges!
Three kinds of wine
Grapevine – delicious, but also exotic
“Wild” and “real” wine grows here, more precisely: the three-pronged and the self-climbing virgin vine as well as a real vine. While the three-pointed virgin vine comes from Asia, the five-leafed species come from North America. The wild stem form of the vine is not related to them and lives around the Mediterranean.
The abundant flowers visit insects and birds snack on the often large amounts of fruit. The dense foliage particularly attracts the sparrow, which often breeds in whole colonies. Nevertheless, all wines are exotic, only a few caterpillars nibble on their leaves. They therefore offer no basis in the food web. The ivy at home helps to green the walls better and more ecologically.
If you are not too impatient, you can get by with a plant that costs less than $ 10, vines are usually a little more expensive.
Three-pointed and the self-climbing virgin vine climb up over clinging roots without help on walls. This creates the risk of shoots entering cracks or crevices. Once the plants have got going properly, they must be kept in check with the scissors even at a higher height, otherwise windows will grow in quickly.
The common virgin vine and the vine, however, need tendrils. This makes them easier to control.
While the fruits of the virgin vines are inedible for people, not only the delicious grapes can be harvested from vines. The leaves are also very aromatic when cooked – e.g. B. as Greek Dolmades.
Intertwined branches. Pretty but complex and not very durable
A wattle fence is quite easy to make yourself. In winter there is often material for our NABU groups to trim their willows, just get active and join in! The fence is particularly beautiful when differently colored shoots are used, e.g. B. black sloe branches next to red dogwood shoots and green cones.
Use of nature
The real benefit for nature is rather small: some insects nibble on the wattle or use the niches in between. With a rain cover, the wattle can also be plastered with clay, which then magically attracts mason bees and clay wasps.
We have used nesting boxes that we have woven in.
Finished wattle fence elements are very expensive and rarely last longer than a dozen years. However, they are a beautiful, natural and space-saving privacy screen.
One should not underestimate the effort for self-made fencing. In addition to the basic manual skills and a few standard tools, you need plenty of time. The branches are not standardized and somehow you always have one hand too few.
A cheap but less durable alternative are reed mats. The hollow stems are then gladly accepted as breeding grounds by solitary bees.
Trellis welded by volunteers from old steel parts of our plentiful greenhouses
A trend against the throw-away society: recycling or even upgrading, modernly called “upcycling”. With a good connection to the junkyard or – as with us – lots of scrap iron from dilapidated greenhouses, real works of art can be created, there are no limits to the imagination. Benefits to
The benefits to nature must be built into it, no animal lives from steel or rust. If the artwork serves as a trellis for native climbing plants, this not only sets attractive accents, but also provides living space and food. Nesting aids and insect blocks can be installed directly. After all, the resources saved through the “second life” of the product count as a plus for the environment.
Anyone who can get hold of wrought-iron fences or grilles has less work than with a welded new construction. Alternatively, the components can also be connected with wire. The effort also depends on the claim. Filigree ornaments need more time and skill than a simple beauty from straight heating pipes. In any case, the time required and the requirements for manual skills and tools for metalworking are among the highest. If done correctly, the fence will last forever.
One should do without rust protection and paint on such fences. On the one hand, every effective rust protection pollutes the environment and, moreover: Do you really want to paint such an angled piece of art? Have fun…
Tied up fruit
Trellis pear of a grate-resistant old variety
Plants grown on the trellis are forced artificial trees, so far from nature. But there are also arguments in favor of this type of cultivation: trellises offer at least some fruit harvest in the smallest space, which makes them suitable for the border. And planted on a south wall, even sensitive tropical fruits can ripen.
benefits From an ecological point of view, no espalier tree can compete with a freestanding high-trunk fruit tree. Depending on the depth of the tree approved by the gardener, birds can breed in it. The flowers and leaves are of great interest to insects. Even if the loss of fruit hurts with such small trees – sacrifice a little harvest of nature. And above all: do without any form of chemical aids!
Once planted and the trellis attached, the work is limited to tying the shoots in shape now and then. In addition, if necessary, supply the tree with fertilizer and water and of course bring in the long-awaited harvest. It is important not to take an unsuitably vigorous tree out of impatience. There are extra dwarf trellis documents for this type of economy.
We opted for an old pear, which miraculously survived the pear grating, which is spread by exotic ornamental wax foliage. If you have a heart for pears, you plant only the native juniper in the rock garden, you are immune to the grating and do not spread it any further.
Hotel for insects
Concrete blocks can also be used sensibly – as an insect hotel
Insect hotels offer diverse breeding grounds if the material and processing are right. Wrong hotel fillings are useless.
Really harmful to the brood is not breathable plastic, in which mushrooms have an easy game or softwood and chipboard, the splinters of which then damage the sensitive wings when hatching. In the far-off garden without suitable wild flowering plants, the insect hotel is becoming a decorative object anyway.
Do It Better! NABU tells you how to do it.
A properly filled insect hotel helps many beneficial organisms, but also their parasites, all of which are part of the large food web in the natural garden. In addition to the classic hollow stalks and wooden blocks, you should also offer clay, sand and water. A box for lacewings offers a quarters for these aphid eaters, but it should have at least 30 cm edge length and be painted red.
an insect hotel is real work! It is almost unbelievable how many stalks fit in one compartment, but which can only
have an inner diameter between 2 and 10 mm. Or
how many holes you have to drill into a hardwood block before you see progress. Clay blocks, into which you press holes with nails of different thickness, go much faster. Exercise patience and don’t let yourself be seduced into senseless ones because of the large tubes and pine cone fillings.
Special features In
autumn, leave as many stems on the beds as possible. Researchers have found six overwintering insect larvae in the reed stalks between the growth nodes – on average!
Knocked on wood
Wooden wall with various nesting elements
As with the brick wall, we used our imagination in addition to the craft. Everywhere there are niches, crevices and protrusions for all kinds of animals. Tits have a safe breeding ground there as do wild bees and other insects.
We paid particular attention to producing little waste wood. The waste was consistently reinstalled to create structures.
Wooden fences hold great potential, but if you look at the reality in the garden and hardware store, you are quickly disappointed. Wood preservation in particular stands in the way of colonization by insects. Better use permanent oak for the posts and larch than fence boards and do without chemical agents – this also saves the tedious painting. Standard fences can also be retrofitted with nesting boxes, niches and insect hotel elements and, of course, with local lianas.
If you build the fence yourself, you will of course have to do a lot more work than screwing on a few elements including the nesting box.
In sawmills it is very cheap to cut the logs, the so-called “swaths”. They are ideal for a natural looking wooden fence. If you want to make this not very durable bark sapwood more durable, you can paint it with linseed oil. Ultimately, the fence only lives when it passes.
Posts last longer when installed overhead against the capillaries, so they draw less water.
Clematis with hoverfly – Photo: Helge May
The “common forest vine” is our native wild form of the colorful flowering Clematis species. It is adapted to our nature and prefers nitrogen-rich, fresh soils, but is also extremely resistant to drought. With its rather small, white flowers, it cannot compete with the cultivated garden forms and many exotic plants. After all, the alpine forest vine comes from Europe, which is prettier and less vigorous with blue-violet flowers.
The flowers have a slightly fishy smell, similar to hawthorn. This mainly attracts various types of flies and beetles. But honeybees and bumblebees also make use of the pollen offered by the many white umbels. If the network of shoots is dense enough, songbirds use this protected breeding site.
Once the grapevine has gained a foothold, it can spread widely and grow a few meters a year. With two to three missions a year and courageous cuts, it is easy to hold. You should wear gloves here, as the juice of the forest vine irritates the skin.
If it gets out of sight in large gardens in a corner, it can overgrow bushes and literally suffocate among them.
Climbing plants are roughly divided into “self-climbers” (e.g. ivy) and “scaffold climbers”. Like the grapevine, the forest vine is considered a climbing plant and needs a climbing aid. Other scaffolding climbers in need of help are the creepers (e.g. honeysuckle) and the spreading climbers (e.g. blackberries).
The longer, the better
Jelängerjelieber (= real honeysuckle) – Photo: Helge May
The garden honeysuckle or “Jelängerjelieber” comes from southern Europe and has been cultivated for a long time. It is overgrown in the wild, it is not easy to distinguish it from the local honeysuckle. Both need trees as a climbing aid. However, the forest honeysuckle grows more than twice as high, up to 25 meters.
The typical flowers exude an intense nectar fragrance in the evening. If you bite off the bottom of a flower, you will be rewarded with a drop of nectar. Some insects follow this example and rob the nectar without fertilizing the plant. Due to the evening flowering, the honeysuckles are ideal for nocturnal insects. This can indirectly attract bats. The orange fruits of the garden honeysuckle are slightly poisonous, but they are so sour and tart that poisoning is rare. Birds take them in without damage and thus contribute to their spread.
Since the garden honeysuckle is susceptible to mildew, it is no longer used on walls and for greening facades. However, it is suitable as a climbing plant on fences and airy arbors and must be pruned at most annually.
In English the plant is called “Honeysuckle” because of its nectar richness. The name “Jelängerjelieber” refers to the long shoots but even more to the long flowering period. It can last until autumn if the location is right.
Forest honeysuckle – Photo: Helge May
The forest honeysuckle is the wild brother of the “Jelängerjelieber”. This liana winds itself up in trees in sparse forests and can easily grow to a height of over 20 meters. It prefers moist soils and quickly suffers from drought. Nevertheless, it also grows on sandy soils and exudes its seductive nectar scent in the evening.
The forest honeysuckle is native here, so nature has adjusted to the plant and many animals find food and protection in it. At night, the intensely fragrant flowers attract moths and the like, which in turn taste like bats.
The red fruits of the forest honeysuckle are slightly poisonous, but also acidic and bitter enough to quickly put off children’s tongues. Birds tolerate the fruits and spread the plant over their droppings.
The forest honeysuckle can do quite neat pushes, but it needs a trellis or at least ropes or rods, which must either be rough enough or have crossbars.
Often one cut per year is not enough, alternatively you can weave in cheeky shoots again. However, the plant is well tolerated by cutting and then sprouts more branched. Without cutting, the plants balk down.
In contrast to the vast majority of creepers, the forest honeysuckle is a right-winder (viewed from above), so it screws clockwise. If such shoots grow into young trees, bizarrely screwed stems emerge, which are popular as hiking sticks.
The board in front of my head …
Screening fences have to be spiced up ecologically, otherwise they are not just visually boring …
Fast, opaque and conditionally beautiful. These are the attributes of the braided or lamellar privacy fences. This may be understandable in new development areas or as a single element on the terrace. But do you want to look at the dreary wooden walls all year round? Whoever locks out others locks himself up. Small gardens need continuous visual axes, otherwise they quickly resemble a prison yard.
The thin wooden boards from which such elements are made are of no interest to any animal. At best, an insect is hiding in the cavities. Most of the time, the elements are impregnated and thus ultimately uninteresting for every life.
Apart from demolition, there are only two solutions for an ecological upgrade:
• with local green or
• Help with nesting aids.
However, boxes for bats, swifts, owls or kestrels are out of the question: you need 3 meters and more hanging height.
Don’t exaggerate with the nesting boxes, not all birdies like the narrowness of a colony. While sparrows, starlings and swifts maintain close proximity, almost all other songbirds fight for their territory. Tit boxes should be at least 5 meters apart, preferably 7 meters apart.
With impact sleeves and standard posts such a fence in the cheapest lightweight construction costs from 20 euros per meter, normally around 50 euros / running meter. Depending on the soil and wind exposure, concrete foundations have to be poured, which increases the effort and costs.
If you only use wood with an FSC certification, then ecological and social minimum standards are maintained
Planted with hops or other climbers, the nasty chain link fence becomes a habitat with little space
The “diagonal wire mesh fence” is probably one of the most common border fortifications. As sterile as this plastic-coated wire comes along, you can make something out of it! It is often enough not to cut a strip. Field winches, sweet peas and other climbing and climbing herbs are a constant fixture. But why not use this trellis quite actively? Runner beans and sweet peas, hops, clematis and many more love this support. If you don’t want to have privacy only in summer, you can give ivy a chance with a little patience.
As a wire alone, it has no ecological value. The benefits for nature depend solely on what is in it.
Even worse: densely fenced gardens block hedgehogs and rabbits. If the fence below is also reinforced with fine chick wire, even the nudibranchs toads have no chance. For nature’s sake! Either put on hedgehog hatches or let the fence start at least 10 cm above the ground.
Once set up, the fence lasts for several decades. Usually the posts are the first to bum through. Wooden posts have to be replaced more often, but they bring some nature to the fence and do not need a concrete foundation.
The “Dingo Fence” in Australia consists of 1.80 m high wire mesh and is 5,412 km long. This makes it not only the longest continuous fence but even the longest structure in the world!
Block House fence
Often encountered in Scandinavia: fence made of wooden poles
The ash, maple and hazel stems come from our “Ahlker Wald” project in Arsten. We deliberately decided not to debark them or to treat them with wood preservatives. In this way, the sticks will disintegrate after about 15 to 20 years. We also refrain from planting, nature will recapture this piece of fence with field winds and co by itself. Let’s be excited!
These stems are far too thin for rare beetles on the Red List. The stag beetle z. B. requires thick oak trunks that do not completely freeze through in their four-year larval period. Nevertheless, some insects nibble on our fence, fungi use the wood for their growth. So you can discover something new on such a fence every year. Compared to bare wire fences, an untreated wooden fence is always ecological and from a resource perspective.
The earth posts are made of oak, the most permanent native tree species. The robinia lasts even longer, but it is exotic and mostly comes from forests that are not very close to nature. In addition to screws, such a fence can also be held together with wooden nails, but then the effort for the handyman increases significantly again.
Wooden earth posts last longer if you place them “overhead” in the ground. Then the capillaries in the wood do not transport the water upwards. It is even better to roast the bottom meter in the campfire; this naturally drives off beetles and fungi.
Stone holiday greetings
Admittedly, there is still room for improvement, but we are happy about every stone donation
Modern gabions originally come from avalanche protection and landscape architecture. Solid wire baskets are filled with stones, which does less work and is more resistant to pressure than piled-up dry stone walls. Gabions are now present in many front gardens, but what value do they have for nature?
Dry stone walls and
piles of stones are an important retreat for heat-loving animals such as lizards, which gabions can supplement, however • the fill should not consist of stones that are too fine and
• the gabions should be more than 30 cm thick so that the
animals can also hide well ,
If you stack the stones yourself, you can create larger cavities for bumblebee nests and other insects. Plant bags or pots, which are integrated into the gabions and planted with dry-resistant flowers, are a good addition, which helps the wild bees.
Purchased gabions are quite expensive, a few meters can cost over $ 1,000, and they should also have a foundation of coarse sand that is at least 60 cm deep. A large part of the filling of these gabions are “holiday stones”. A lot of people have donated a holiday reminder here or simply disposed of an old dust collector from earlier times. In any case, this gabion is literally “full of memories”. Let’s assume that archaeologists will one day dig this colorful mixture – but they will be surprised!
Our gabion shields the seating area acoustically well against the neighbors. The massive stones and restless surface swallow the sound
The phette range can also look chic
The standardized and stable Euro pallets are suitable for various applications. The possibilities go from the bench to raised beds to the privacy fence and far beyond. As an example of good “upcycling” we have built a few meters of pallet fence for little money. The construction is held by a few screw connections and very durable robinia fence posts. Unfortunately, these mostly come from forests that are not very close to nature.
Euro pallets with EUR or EPAL labeling are not only standardized in size, they should also be non-toxic. Should. The problem is what has been transported on them or what has leaked on them. Nothing speaks against outdoor use without direct contact with vegetables. For safety reasons, you should use new pallets for indoor use, as are common in the food and pharmaceutical industries. Since pallets alone have no use for nature, we helped a little with nesting aids and zinc buckets as flower pots.
The cost of a pallet for private individuals – depending on the condition – is around $ 10, the wholesale trade pays around $ 8.50 for new pallets.
Ram in a few support posts and screw the bulky pallets together with at least two people – done. There is hardly a lot less effort and faster success experiences.
Our pallets “float” above the floor. This means that the wood does not come into contact with the moist soil and hedgehogs and the like can slip under it.
Gabions with a different filling. Wren and robins are happy!
Who says gabions can only be filled with stones? We tried it once with different wood materials. The advantage is that the light wooden gabion does not require an elaborate foundation and we could easily find the filling ourselves. However, over the years it needs to be replenished. That is also wanted, because where wood is decomposed, there is life!
The ecological value of the wood filling has a great advantage over stones: it is “edible”, at least for fungi, bacteria and many insects. At the same time, it offers at least as many niches, shelters and breeding grounds, but for species other than stone gabions. Compared to a “real” dead wood hedge, it naturally offers less living space, especially for wren and robins it is not a real offer. There is a place for such a slim gabion in every garden.
You can make life easy for yourself and tip branches or twigs up to arm length into the gabions. That alone is a lot of work, more than with a pile of stones. If you then layer different types of wood and dimensions, you get chic patterns, but the effort for cutting and sorting is enormous.
Because many exotic trees grew on our former nursery grounds, we also used this wood. Let’s be curious what the beetle world can do with it.
Palisades made from old tree trunks
Every Asterix reader knows the palisade fences of the Romans. Once used as protection against enemies, they now delimit gardens and beds. We have used exotic tree trunks from the greening of our former nursery and larch trunks from the thinning of the Dreptefarm site for the palisade.
Often, pressure-impregnated wood or concrete is used, which is less life-friendly but more durable. However, if you take native wood without chemical wood protection, a palisade will also be attractive for insects and fungi. The decay of the wood then brings new life. If there are many trees nearby, the woodpecker will be happy to look for some fat maggots on such palisades. Palisades are ecologically inferior to a real deadwood hedge, however.
The more natural the building material is, the greater the effort. Crooked trunks with knots and bumps make a straight palisade a puzzle game. If you take oak split piles, such as those used for pastures, it is a little easier. This rustic variant is also just under $100 per linear meter, depending on the height. It becomes easier if you screw the trunks together so that the palisade runs in an arc and holds itself. Then you can save yourself digging in.
We buried the larch trunks in the classic way. Before that, we charred the lower third in the campfire like in the Bronze Age and thus impregnated it. This is hard work, but it is the most natural protection.
A great and far too little noticed plant, the ivy
Because of “cemetery green”! In ancient times, ivy was assigned to those gods who celebrated happiest. And nature also loves this evergreen liana. Ivy actually likes the penumbra and shade and needs a support on which it can climb up. We have planted it as an example of a simple and sensible measure for the greening of existing wire fences on a commercially available double bridge mat.
Since it is one of the last plants to bloom abundantly in the year, it is loved by almost all insects – even if it is to catch the nectar ashes from it. The black fruits, which are toxic to humans, are often eaten by blackbirds and starlings in late winter. Unfortunately, the ivy takes around ten years to bloom and bear fruit. The ivy likes to grow on facades without cracks and damage and is a breeding ground for sparrows, blackbirds and many other songbirds. It protects the house wall from the weather and is home to an entire ecosystem of spiders and insects.
Since ivy can grow to a height of over 20 m, its shoots on facades like to crawl under roof tiles and overgrown windows. Regular cutting is then mandatory. As a fence green, ivy is completely unproblematic, it just doesn’t like the blazing sun.
Special features The
fact that ivy kills trees is complete nonsense. The adhesive roots do not penetrate the trees and ivy does not wrap around the trunks. The load of the ivy plant is also easy to carry for a healthy tree. In exceptional cases, ivy can only steal the light from smaller trees, otherwise it is finely satisfied with the shadow inside the crown.
Walls made of concrete parts become valuable as planted dry walls
“Concrete – it depends on what you make of it”, the slogan of the 1970s for a gray building material is still correct. But even the most beautiful green cannot hide the fact that there is a lot of energy in the gray concrete. Without this exhibition, we probably wouldn’t have bought concrete rings. However, since the rings can be found in many gardens as privacy and noise protection, we have thought about how nature can also benefit from them.
If you create gaps between the components, you give shelter to many small animals. If there is too much distance, the sand filling will trickle out. Since insects, reptiles, amphibians and mice do not make any aesthetic demands, the settlement of plants is particularly important for the concrete rings. We chose sand as the substrate because we want to show dry-resistant plants that store water in the leaves (so-called succulents). A native carpet of stonework, also known as the stonecrop, quickly forms a valuable carpet of flowers.
From knee-high walls, a roughly 60 cm deep foundation of coarse sand should always be laid. Even if the rings can be stacked on top of one another without mixing, the effort is quite high since each layer must be individually filled with substrate. Massive, tapering walls offer more living space, but they need a lot of space and enormous amounts of material.
With a little patience, you can also save planting, nature will conquer the living space with the right plants. However, be prepared for some well-known “weeds”.
Schiete to raisins …
Recycling or upcycling? Concrete components with a new life
“Making raisins from Schiete” is the proverbial art of using your imagination. The U-shaped stones used here were in large numbers as “lanes” in the greenhouses. Like so much on the premises, we found them too good to throw away and found several new uses for them. Take a look around the site, in addition to a new life as a “green wall”, we have also used them as molded parts for raised beds.
As with all stone plant walls, it is not the molded parts that determine the ecological value, but the substrate and the plants. If the soil brought in is nutrient-rich, common plants are a strong competitor. Rare specialists also need a special floor, e.g. B. particularly low in nutrients, dry or calcareous. Rule of thumb: The more often you have to weed so that your desired plants prevail, the worse the soil is suitable for them. Insects, amphibians, reptiles and even mice find a home in the gaps and niches of the wall.
From knee-high walls, a roughly 60 cm deep foundation of coarse sand should always be laid, it does not always have to be concrete. Stacking and filling takes some time, but then lasts forever. Another tip: If you don’t plan straight lines from the start, but install organic swings, you won’t be annoyed when components sag a few millimeters.
Recycling components rarely have ideal dimensions. These individual elements weigh almost a hundredweight, especially as an untrained office person you should get help for it!
Roof tile deep fall
With a little skill and patience, you can build entire raised beds out of roof tiles
These bricks covered a shed roof for over 40 years, then the barn was completely renovated. Who has the heart to throw away such beautiful clay bricks? We made it an offer for insects. We heavily thinned our heavy Kleibboden with sand and applied this clay nicely between the layers of brick.
The thatched farmhouses used to be plastered with clay, a paradise for wild bees. Mason bees laid their eggs in the hollow stems, while clay and chimney wasps used the clay walls. But these walls have become rare. Open break-off edges of streams and rivers are fastened and there are hardly any meanders due to the straightening. In addition to the insects, kingfishers and sand martins also suffer from this. Barn and swallows need clay very badly. The fast-paced aviators prefer to collect their nesting material from open puddles of clay and stick small clumps of clay with saliva.
If you first have to mix the clay and sand together, that will take a lot of time and effort. Such a roof tile wall is not suitable as a flat wall element. With a little skill, however, lower walls made of old roof tiles can be piled up without a binder.
The higher the proportion of clay, the more the mixture tears and shrinks when drying. That is why you emaculate the clay with sand (by 90%!). The grains of sand keep the clay in shape, the clay glues them together.
Gray to green
In a few months, the concrete hides shamefully behind the green
We inherited these U-shaped gray shaped stones with the site, they were originally “lanes” in the greenhouses. Since they are made of concrete and are asbestos-free, they can be used well in the sense of modern “upcycling”. Not all advertised substances can be reused without problems. Caution should be exercised when using car tires as flower pots or pallets that have traveled around the world and some of which may have received a toxic shower.
The value for nature comes on the one hand from the richness of structure of the wall with many small passages, holes and niches, which offer animals protection and living space. Secondly, the planting is crucial. Take native wild herbs or at least garden flowers that still have pistils and scars. These genital organs have been grown away from some flowers so that the so-called “double” flowers appear even more magnificent. For bees, bumblebees etc. there is nothing to snack on in such sterile flowers!
A foundation of building rubble and coarse sand that goes into the frost-free area (> 60 cm) stabilizes the wall. When complex stacking and backfilling, the joints between the stones should be offset, this also stabilizes. Depending on how well the built-in soil and the planting fit together, you have to go through several times a year and possibly water. Remember that fertilizer also makes the competition grow faster.
Don’t overestimate yourself! This wall holds several cubic meters of substrate and dozens of molded parts weighing one hundred.
A typical gabion …
Soldiers filled wicker baskets with stones as early as the Middle Ages. Today there is a lot of energy in the galvanized wire baskets and the stones that are often transported over hundreds of kilometers. With natural stones you should not only pay attention to price and appearance. In many modern stone gardens there is Indian child labor under terrible conditions and long transport routes. If you pay attention to regionality, you can do something good for nature with stone walls and gabions.
The value of stone walls and gabions lies in the many small niches that offer breeding and hiding places for solitary bees, ground beetles and many other insects, for snails, lizards and slow worms. The latter particularly like the heat stored in the stones.
The filling should not consist of stones that are too small. The animals also need a little space between the stones. Under no circumstances should the stones be kept “clean” with bleach or weed killers.
Purchased gabions are quite expensive, a few meters can cost over $1,000. With a foundation of coarse sand that is at least 60 cm deep, they are also made to last. Who gets cheap stones or z. B. Recycled broken brick and takes it as a filling, can build his gabions for little money.
This gabion is filled with sandstone from the nearby Weserbergland (Münchehagener and Obernkirchener) and broken brick as a colorful contrast. The foot is also significantly wider than usual. This increases the wealth of niches and at the same time stabilizes the gabions.
Herbs in the wall
A vertical variant of the herb spiral –
Such massive walls made of concrete blocks work well as sound insulation on busy streets. You can argue from an aesthetic point of view. We have created the maximum of planting options as an example. It is also leaner, but less green.
The highlight of this wall is the different availability of water. It is the driest at the top, where the rain quickly runs into the terraces below, where it is wetter. We have used this and planted different water-dependent herbs like in a herb spiral.
If the concrete blocks are packed very closely, there are only a few niches for amphibians, insects, reptiles and Co. It is better to pour the core freely from the ground or at least to leave small gaps every now and then. Since we want to use the wall as a vertical herb bed, we have also used exotic Mediterranean plants. This reduces the value for nature, even if many of them do provide some nectar.
Even if we got these stones at less than half the regular price, this 180 cm high
terrace pyramid still costs over $ 400 per meter. The workload should also not be underestimated: Frost-free foundation made of coarse sand, soil filling in every stone layer and the stacking of the stones.
Typical herb spirals start with mint and lemon balm in the wet zone, then move to parsley, coriander, tarragon,
caraway, oregano and basil and end in the Mediterranean herbs sage, thyme or lavender, which withstand the dryness well.
Brick wall for explorers
Rather what good craftsmen: Brick walls
The brick wall is surely the supreme discipline at the garden border. We took up the challenge and deliberately did not use a spirit level or solder. It will soon be more difficult to wall “nicely crooked” than straight! Go on a voyage of discovery and see what nature offers we have built in.
Whether brick, sand-lime brick or concrete – the animals don’t care. It is important to have as many hiding places as possible and to combine them with natural materials, e.g. B. for small insect homes or flower boxes. At the bottom you should note the hedgehog escapes, even if they are not really necessary with our short wall section. Each fence should have several hedgehog escapes so that this useful guest is not locked in or locked out. On the top of the wall we have created offers for birds: a cat-safe watering hole, a sand bath and a clay point, if swallows want to nest with us.
With a little skill, instructions and, above all, imagination, walling is not that difficult to learn. We have also resumed some stones unsatisfied and put on again. If you can get cheap old bricks and stones, you can build the best things. Nevertheless, the effort for a wall is very large: We poured a 10 cm thick concrete slab on the basic foundation made of coarse sand and rubble. For this purpose, the wall is supported by its curve shape itself.
Up to about waist height, the stones can also be piled up and interlocked without mortar. This holds up well and brings nature the most.
Tree of life is not a living space
Exotic and hostile to life, the tree hedge
We inherited this exotic hedge from trees of life together with the property. One can argue about aesthetics, but not about ecological value: it is useless for animals.
We are slowly allowing this border to be taken over by rose hips and other beautifully prickly native shrubs. But we have also created a few alternative native cut hedges for you.
Use of nature
Whoever decides against the exotic like cherry laurel and tree of life is doing nature a great favor. Regular topiary tolerates hornbeam, hawthorn, field maple and also spruce and beech and the poisonous privet and yew.
For ecologically even more valuable mixed hedges, sloe, dogwood, hazel, mountain ash, black elder, real wild roses, cornelian cherry and the poisonous cones, snowball and honeysuckle should definitely be considered.
Mixed and natural hedges should be cut vigorously once a year, topiary hedges often require two cuts.
Knicks and hedges are only put on the stick every 5 to 10 years. This radical cut should only be done in sections.
Please always consider the breeding season when cutting. A responsible gardener does not cut hedges from March 1st to July 31st!
Wall filled with life
A double-row wall can be planted great and brings life and demarcation into the garden
We have stacked two-shell walls made of different materials and filled them with earth. In addition to regional Weser sandstones, we have given roof tiles and pavement slabs a new lease of life. The two walls support each other and the roots of herbs and shrubs connect everything more and more over the years. We have given this particularly valuable garden fence a particularly large amount of space as an almost “ideal solution”.
Because this variant of the garden boundary offers so many different niches and mini-habitats, it is particularly richly populated and therefore extremely valuable. Toads, lizards, beetles and spiders can hide between the stones and dry wall plants can settle there. Indigenous plants grow at the top, which in turn are the food basis for a large number of animals that hunters are already lurking in the stone joints.
It still has an effect several meters to the left and right of the wall. An animal may have its territory here and retreat into the wall only for protection.
Admittedly, the double-walled layering of the sometimes very heavy stones is anything but gentle on the back, but you can do the maintenance later at a comfortable height. No foundation is necessary for this variant up to about waist height. Even if the soil works in frost, the wall should be well interlocked over the roots. However, the base of the wall should be significantly wider than the crown and always show larger stones in the middle for more stability.
Use the wall crown calmly for berry bushes, gooseberries deter intruders and are easy to harvest.
A small bonus for the exhibition at our butterfly bed with pollard willows and nettles
Large cabbage white caterpillars – Photo: Helge May
Butterflies are popular; some fertilize flowers and they are usually a real feast for the eyes. Everyone wants them in their garden.
It is different with the “baby butterflies”. Those who fight for the harvest with cabbage white or frostbite quickly lose all tolerance. The caterpillars are pure eating machines with an enormous appetite. But you will notice it yourself: Without caterpillars, no butterflies. Those who only take care of the nectar for the finished moths neglect the offspring. We therefore grow nettle and cabbage varieties around the pollard willows as a “sacrificial culture”.
Butterflies are the second most common insect order after beetles. Even if it is annoying with crops, the caterpillars effectively keep many plants in check that would otherwise take over. On the other hand, there are flowers that can only be fertilized by the long trunk proboscis. The caterpillars turn the parts of the plant into kilos of insect meat and that is pure energy for many animals and their offspring. Without protein-rich caterpillars, e.g. B. Tits don’t grow from thumbnail-sized chicks to finished birds in just under three weeks.
Native butterflies only need the right (native) plants. Just let it grow, that’s it. Exotics like the butterfly lilac (Buddleja) magically attract moths, but do not offer food to a single caterpillar.
A rule of thumb for the natural gardener: Plants that have no holes in the leaves do not provide a habitat.