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Jun 3, 2018 7:58 PM CST
Thread OP
New England

I don't know extensively on the subject matter of gardening but I have had some security issues with my property. More than once in the early Spring I had people damage or upturn my chain link fence and buttress a way to enter with sticks. It obviously was manmade damage or vandalism. Well not only did I repair it but I added many hundreds of new fence ties, I drove dozens of extra stakes in the ground and secured the fence with heavy gauge wire to these stakes. I also used various garden staples to keep the fence secured, ran wire underneath and of course installed a DIY security system, outdoor cameras and in this particular area game cameras.

I looked into adding barbed wire to further discourage entry but that is not legal where I live so I was thinking of possibly building a living wall, especially using thorns.

I live in the Northeast so we have cold winters. This fence is on the edge of the woods or already within the woods for the most part so it doesn't see a lot of sun. What I was looking for was a plant that:

-could grow around the fence well and act to reinforce the chain links to stay put in addition to my other reinforcements.
-be as close to evergreen as possible because the time when I had problems the most is in early Spring, during summer and fall the woods is so thick and thorny that it becomes a living wall.
-preferrably have thorns so I fall under the deniability of "no barbed wire" laws while still enjoying similar benefits.
-be weed or brushlike, something that could live on a forest floor in so much as being able to live with limited sunlight and little to no care or additional watering.

The only lead I could find was this super expensive African plant they use to build walls to keep out lions which would not do well in the environment I need it to work.

Any ideas?
Jun 3, 2018 8:10 PM CST
Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
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I don't have any personal experience with that type of planting, but, you could try the Plants Database using the Search by Characteristics feature. You can put in the plant, specific features, zones, etc. For example, I did a very broad search by choosing Shrub and Thorned which gave nearly 6,000 results. Pare that number down by adding more parameters and there should be some possibilities for you. Good luck with the project! Thumbs up
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Jun 3, 2018 8:44 PM CST
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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New England is a big place. Knowing a bit more about your location, at least the state and county, we might be able to give better responses.

That being said, what is there about your property that is making it attractive to vandals?

Do you own a dog?
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
Jun 3, 2018 9:07 PM CST
Name: Sally
central Maryland (Zone 7b)
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Aralia spinosa grows easily, quickly, and forms a thicket, and is entirely spiny
Not sure where you can buy it, but if you find some, great. Not evergreen.

Mahonia bealei is tough, can take shade, is very prickly, but slow growing in my experience, and this says zone 7 minimum

American holly..
but you said the wood are thorny and thick in summer, maybe I am not being helpful

Do you have Smilax there aka greenbriar? That may be a southern plant, but has tough thorny vines that would make great natural barbed wire.

Or get a German Shepard dog Thumbs up
Plant it and they will come.
Jun 4, 2018 8:40 AM CST
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL @--`--,----- 🌹 (Zone 8b)
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I was thinking about Smilax too, maybe mixed with something like Wisteria with stems/vines that get bigger every year and could eventually create an impenetrable barrier. Smilax can't do that alone, at least not the kinds that I've seen. There are various species of it.

I'd probably add poison ivy. Not everyone is sensitive to it, but it would get the attention of those who are!

I think you'll need some mix of vines, a team, to accomplish all of your goals.
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Jun 4, 2018 8:42 AM CST
Name: Anna Z.
Monroe, WI
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Intentional poison ivy THAT would get their attention............. Rolling on the floor laughing
Avatar for MindiHammerstone
Jun 4, 2018 9:11 AM CST
Name: Mindi Hammerstone
Tracy, CA (Zone 9b)
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I thought about poison ivy as well. Not only would it be a deterrent, but they would get something to take home with them for their efforts!!

Dogs are definitely a deterrent, or a shotgun. They hear that gun cocking sound and they are gone.

Even little dogs can be
a Deterrent. They would tell you when someone is on the property.

Put up a beware of dog sign whether you have one or not. Or a beware of owner, but the dog one would make them think twice.

I am pro big dogs, just because I love them and they are a heck of a lot faster then a human being.

I have no plant ideas for shade.

Good luck 🍀


Avatar for scvirginia
Jun 4, 2018 9:27 AM CST
Name: Virginia

Rosa rugosa has been used to make impenetrable, thorny hedges, and should be hardy in New England. At least some varieties are shade tolerant, but the advice about giving roses 6-8 hours of sunlight daily is to promote more blooms... rose plants will be healthy with less sun, just not bloom as much. If you've got deep shade, this probably won't work.

Rugosa roses are invasive in some parts of the Northeast, so you might want to research the likelihood of that happening in your area. It would not be cool to introduce them to the woods, and the hips are well-loved by various birds and critters.

I like the ideas of Aralia spinosa (Devil's Walking Stick) and Smilax, but I worry that these will easily end up in other parts of your yard where you don't want them.

A 'Beware of Dog' sign might help even if you have no dog, as Mindi suggests.

Good luck,
Last edited by scvirginia Jun 4, 2018 9:35 AM Icon for preview
Avatar for binoman
Jun 4, 2018 8:08 PM CST
Thread OP
New England
Thank you for the extremely helpful replies to everyone. I live in Southern NE, probably Zone 6-7ish. Most winters it does not get much below 5-10'F but I've seen it a bit colder at times.

I understand about dogs and weapons. Dogs are not conducive to our lifestyle but I am very into 2a; I hunt with both firearms and bow, I spend a lot of time at the range doing different activities and even have a carry permit. Problem is this is all useless if you're not home, hence the dog. At the end of the day if you are going to use deadly force you have to be in fear of your life and property intrusions don't count in my state though once they make it into the perimeter of the house the law protects you pretty well. Still shooting is serious stuff, especially indoors, you need to double up on hearing protection and in a situation like this you just can't prepare quickly enough or have it on 24/7/365 waiting to be attacked. I prefer pepper spray so you don't have to worry about the bullets going through your assailant and into the neighbors houses. I've never used it on a human but on aggressive animals it will instantly persuade them they want absolutely nothing to do with you while causing no permanent harm. It's amazing and now you can buy it in all different formulations with tear gas for increased human effectiveness, or in the huge bear mace containers for area effect.

I think my house is no more attractive than most next to it, but the neighborhood is decent and the town has been populated by more section 8 as well as a new casino and in general crime rates are up a bit because many local constabularies in nearby towns are ignoring smaller infractions in the name of "fairness". It's the broken window theory but thankfully our local cops have been wonderful. Lately there was a group of workers that robbed the house they were building an addition for and two other properties in the neighborhood. Local cops staked them out and finally nabbed them. That said while our street has many housewives that are at home all day, there is forest on one side with another residential area not far across it through which potential thieves can sneak and gain entry through the back yard in concealment. It is there that I want to fortify as much as possible.

Basically I have gone to every end possible to put security systems (plural), cameras of different types (plural) including game cameras beyond reach of wifi, seriously reinforced the fence to a level that would make your eyes pop short of barbed wire, and added enough motion activated solar LED's to the back yard that every time a rabbit comes in at night it wakes me up. Once my wife woke up too and complained that I overdid it because it too bright since it looks like "disney world". OK so I changed some of the angles to less affect our bedroom but that was the whole point so I could remain wary of outside activity at night. No matter where you go back there when it gets dark every few steps another LED will pop on into the direction a likely intruder would be most likely to face, it's designed to be creepy and intimidating. I have also ordered signs "VIDEO SURVEILLANCE TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED" and whatnot.

The whole message I am trying to convey to any intruder is "WHOMEVER LIVES HERE IS OBSESSED WITH KEEPING YOU OUT" and decides that nearby houses will be easier nuts to crack. I had been researching about reinforcing fences and most of it talks about burying it in cement but I came across some info on living walls and while the Forest is a great living wall in summer and winter, during early Spring and late fall all its threats like ticks, spiders, snakes, poison ivy and thorns are not like they are this time of year.
Jun 4, 2018 8:34 PM CST
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
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How about a target range with a few bulls eye holes in that area? Of course a "Trespassers will be shot" sign would be helpful. I would think a nice planting of Blackberry (or some other thorny berry vines) would do the trick, though you wouldn't see much fruit in shade.
Jun 4, 2018 8:42 PM CST
Name: Bob
Vernon N.J. (Zone 6b)
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Oregon Grape Holly can go to zone 5 - can take part shade - evergreen.
Fifethorn if you are zone 6.
Hope these help.
Jun 4, 2018 8:59 PM CST
Name: Sally
central Maryland (Zone 7b)
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Pyracantha is very stiff and thorny. I think easy to buy, and that says does OK in shade. I'm liking this idea best so far. (Edit- Bob and I both came up with the same firethorn link at the same time..)

You can't use barbed wire ON your perimeter fence, but can you string it on your property inside that? I'm picturing it strung at varying heights, ankle grabbing, face scratching, etc. Only other thing coming to mind is those trip wires with tin cans that rattle... Or monofilament .. Claim that these are to keep deer from eating the landscape.
Plant it and they will come.
Last edited by sallyg Jun 4, 2018 9:01 PM Icon for preview
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Jun 4, 2018 9:00 PM CST
Name: Mindi Hammerstone
Tracy, CA (Zone 9b)
Dog Lover Dragonflies
On another note, I know you are knowledgeable and don't rely on guns. My husband (you probably know of this Iam just parroting my husband) he has a gun by our bed and there is a finger print lock on it and it's ready and loaded. Fast opening in the night if you have an intruder and can only be opened by the fingerprints that are loaded into it. That way it is kept safe and it is ready. I shot a glock 9 millimeter, and a 1911. At the range for fun. Was my first time and I got a good grouping on the paper guy. I feel special lol. That's cool you have a concealed carrier license. That's all I know about guns lol. They are my husbands and he would be shooting if ever someone intruded into our house. Not me. I don't even have my fingerprints loaded to the safe. I have a Belgian Malinois and a Golden Retriever who would welcome someone in lol. The Belgian is very protective of us and his territory. I understand everyone doesn't want a dog. They are a big responsibility. I think berries are a good idea. If I was alone I would let my dog loose if I was scared. He loud as heck and might deter someone that way or just take out the intruders unless they had a gun.

Ok back to gardening 😀

Last edited by MindiHammerstone Jun 5, 2018 8:48 AM Icon for preview
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