Planting a hedge in rural area

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We live in North Central Idaho on 55+ acres. Unfortunately, our nearest neighbor is closer than I'd like (about 300 yards). Plus our dogs like to go visiting, which we aren't happy about. There is a falling-down barbed wire fence between us. Much of that area is volunteer plum trees, apple trees, wild rose bushes and other types of native plants. But there is one area where there's nothing. I really want to close up that space with native plantings. I can easily look up different types of native plants, but here are my quandaries:

  • This is behind our barn, up a slight hill, with the surface covered in basalt rocks. I've tried to move the basalt rocks leading up to the area, just to make a path, and it's quite labor intensive.
  • No water there. Our summers are dry, so even if I get 'drought-tolerant' plants, it has to establish itself before it will be drought-tolerant. I would guess the nearest faucet is at least 100 yards away.
  • Soil is mostly basalt rock and clay, so digging a hole will be extremely labor intensive as well. We do have a tractor with an auger, but because of the existing Ponderosa Pines, apple trees, and roses, it may be problematic
I think I could probably figure out the first and last bulletpoint. But water is the real question, I guess.

Does anyone have any ideas on how to get some kind of consistent watering for the first couple of years?

BTW - Here's a Google Maps picture. The red roofs are the neighbor. The ugly lime roof is our house. The white roof between is the barn. The property line goes about 10 feet from their driveway. You can see several 'blank' areas. Nearest faucet is at the little white roof.
our house to neighbor.jpg
 
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That sounds like a fun project and having a wild hedgerow of native shrubs will be a wonderful result.

Many native shrubs would be happy to grow in and among basalt boulders. If there is absolutely no soil to plant in, consider adding some to larger gaps and crevices in the rock. The rocks will also conserve water beneath them, giving the new plants a moist welcoming microclimate.

This leads to your second point. To reduce establishment irrigation do the following. 1) Plant selection, as you have already said, drought-tolerant native plants are the way to go. 2) Plant in Fall, or even now if it is manageable. 3) mulch after planting. In your case, both added wood chips and native rocks and boulders will serve as water-conserving mulch.

Even with all that, a few deep waterings in Summer may be needed or helpful. If a hose cannot be run that far, transport buckets of water by vehicle or wheelbarrow as close as you can get, and then lug it in and pour it on. This shouldn't be constant task if the previous steps are performed. Maybe only once a month or so for the first Summer or two.

If the soil is hard to dig, don't make large holes s for large plants, one gallon container size should be sufficient for most shrubs. They will grow. Also, try digging with a mattock. That is how I planted a compacted rock/gravel driveway into a thriving garden border.

You mention Wild plums (Prunus spp.) and Roses (Rosa spp.) already grow nearby. They will be good candidates for your hedge. Others to consider would be native Brambles (Rubus spp.), native Currants & Gooseberries (Ribes spp.), Western Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana var. demissa), Fernbush (Chamaebatiaria millefolium), Sagebrushes (Artemisia spp), shrubby Junipers (Juniperus spp.), etc.
 
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Thanks, Marck! Your input is extremely valuable to me.

Thanks for the additional input on plants. I have lots of blackberries on the property that I could transplant. I've never heard of Fernbush, but I just googled it, and it definitely looks like a good option. I have tons Chokecherry I can probably transplant as well. Those just volunteer all over the place.

Interesting that you used a mattock to transform a compacted gravel driveway into a thriving garden border. I will definitely have to try that - not just for this hedge, but the previous owners had minimal landscaping and much of the area was made into a gravel 'driveway' - in both the front yard and the back yard. It is so compacted I can't even get a broadfork into it!

Of course, they also just 'had' to put black plastic under it all. I didn't even know about the black plastic until I started digging up a SMALL area for a garden. 2 inches of river rock on top of 2-4 inches of gravel and then 2-4 inches of clay.... and THEN black plastic. What WERE they thinking! The plastic holds the water during winter and spring, so it's a muddy mess. I've been digging it up and pulling it out as I go, but it's so deep it's a huge effort. We've been here 4 years, and I've barely made a dent. Even digging a 3' wide hole for a single plant takes over 2 hours. Fortunately, my hedge doesn't have the plastic to worry about, and I don't believe anyone has been driving on it.

The last 2 years, our weather has turned from hot and dry summer into snow within one week. We bypassed Fall altogether. But maybe I should go back there after things have warmed up enough that I'm not digging into clayey mud, and dig up the area. Then I can be ready for planting when the time comes. I have lots of wood chips, but I didn't think about the rocks providing moisture control. That can definitely be possible. If I could get the watering down to just once a month that would be incredible! I could definitely do that. Heck, I could even fill the tractor bucket with water and get it pretty close!
 
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Pointless plastic in the soil is an ongoing gripe of mine as well. Previous gardeners owners of my garden put both solid plastic sheeting and porous plastic 'weed cloth' everywhere they could... and the sod for the former lawn was grown and rolled out on a plastic grid-mesh that will outlast us all. I have removed a lot of the plastic and I also know I'll never get it all. The plastic comes out much easier when the soil is wet, if that helps any.

Doing the prep for a bed a season or two before it is planted is a great idea. When it's time to plant, the hardest work is out of the way, so one can freshly focus on the plants and their placement.

Fernbush is a beautiful shrub. If it isn't available commercially try growing from cuttings.

Still more fine plants to consider would include Serviceberries (Amelanchier) and Buffaloberries (Shepherdia spp.).

Also do scatter wildflower seed around too.
 
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Pointless plastic in the soil is an ongoing gripe of mine as well. Previous gardeners owners of my garden put both solid plastic sheeting and porous plastic 'weed cloth' everywhere they could... and the sod for the former lawn was grown and rolled out on a plastic grid-mesh that will outlast us all. I have removed a lot of the plastic and I also know I'll never get it all. The plastic comes out much easier when the soil is wet, if that helps any.

Doing the prep for a bed a season or two before it is planted is a great idea. When it's time to plant, the hardest work is out of the way, so one can freshly focus on the plants and their placement.

Fernbush is a beautiful shrub. If it isn't available commercially try growing from cuttings.

Still more fine plants to consider would include Serviceberries (Amelanchier) and Buffaloberries (Shepherdia spp.).

Also do scatter wildflower seed around too.
We do have so some wild serviceberries here, so I'll try to propagate some of those. Hmm.... Looks like I ordered 3 bare-root plants of Buffaloberry from Native Foods Nursery. But I think it might be difficult to get the prep work done for that area in time to plant for the spring. Maybe I can propagate from stem cuttings or seeds from the berries

Didn't really think about scattering wildflower seed. Thanks for the tip!
 
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Pointless plastic in the soil is an ongoing gripe of mine as well. Previous gardeners owners of my garden put both solid plastic sheeting and porous plastic 'weed cloth' everywhere they could... and the sod for the former lawn was grown and rolled out on a plastic grid-mesh that will outlast us all. I have removed a lot of the plastic and I also know I'll never get it all. The plastic comes out much easier when the soil is wet, if that helps any.

Doing the prep for a bed a season or two before it is planted is a great idea. When it's time to plant, the hardest work is out of the way, so one can freshly focus on the plants and their placement.

Fernbush is a beautiful shrub. If it isn't available commercially try growing from cuttings.

Still more fine plants to consider would include Serviceberries (Amelanchier) and Buffaloberries (Shepherdia spp.).
I share your frustration with plastic in the soil—it's a persistent challenge. Your efforts to remove it and the advice on wet soil make a lot of sense. Planning ahead for bed prep is indeed a gardening game-changer, allowing a seamless focus on plant placement later. Fernbush is a lovely choice, and your suggestion to grow from cuttings is resourceful. Thanks for the plant recommendations; Serviceberries and Buffaloberries add even more charm to the garden canvas!
 
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We live in North Central Idaho on 55+ acres. Unfortunately, our nearest neighbor is closer than I'd like (about 300 yards). Plus our dogs like to go visiting, which we aren't happy about. There is a falling-down barbed wire fence between us. Much of that area is volunteer plum trees, apple trees, wild rose bushes and other types of native plants. But there is one area where there's nothing. I really want to close up that space with native plantings. I can easily look up different types of native plants, but here are my quandaries:

  • This is behind our barn, up a slight hill, with the surface covered in basalt rocks. I've tried to move the basalt rocks leading up to the area, just to make a path, and it's quite labor intensive.
  • No water there. Our summers are dry, so even if I get 'drought-tolerant' plants, it has to establish itself before it will be drought-tolerant. I would guess the nearest faucet is at least 100 yards away.
  • Soil is mostly basalt rock and clay, so digging a hole will be extremely labor intensive as well. We do have a tractor with an auger, but because of the existing Ponderosa Pines, apple trees, and roses, it may be problematic
I think I could probably figure out the first and last bulletpoint. But water is the real question, I guess.

Does anyone have any ideas on how to get some kind of consistent watering for the first couple of years?

BTW - Here's a Google Maps picture. The red roofs are the neighbor. The ugly lime roof is our house. The white roof between is the barn. The property line goes about 10 feet from their driveway. You can see several 'blank' areas. Nearest faucet is at the little white roof.
View attachment 87360
I'll start by saying I have no experience gardening in your climate. I live in the northeast, where we have 1" of rain average per week -- although we do sometimes have long dry periods. But I do have experience gardening in very unhospitable soil and on a steep slope. If I were doing this, and btw native plants are the only way to go -- I would look around the area and see what kinds of plants are growing naturally in similar rocky terrain. That way you'll see what plants are adaptable to your location.
As to water -- in the northeast we have these big green zipper bags that localities put on newly-planted trees. They hold a fair amount of water and feed it out gradually. That would give you a grace period. You might also consider installing a water barrel or two to catch the runoff from your barn roof. That would get you significantly closer to your "bare spots."
And whatever soil amendment you can do, do. I did this ever year for 30 years and was finally able to grow a nice crop of grass in my formerly barren back yard. Soil amendment really pays off over a long period of time. If you have leaves -- I can't really see by the nice photo what kind of trees you have -- they make very useful soil amendment if composted with some soil.
 
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Thanks for the additional input on plants. I have lots of blackberries on the property that I could transplant. I've never heard of Fernbush, but I just googled it, and it definitely looks like a good option. I have tons Chokecherry I can probably transplant as well. Those just volunteer all over the place.

Interesting that you used a mattock to transform a compacted gravel driveway into a thriving garden border. I will definitely have to try that - not just for this hedge, but the previous owners had minimal landscaping and much of the area was made into a gravel 'driveway' - in both the front yard and the back yard. It is so compacted I can't even get a broadfork into it!

Of course, they also just 'had' to put black plastic under it all. I didn't even know about the black plastic until I started digging up a SMALL area for a garden. 2 inches of river rock on top of 2-4 inches of gravel and then 2-4 inches of clay.... and THEN black plastic. What WERE they thinking! The plastic holds the water during winter and spring, so it's a muddy mess. I've been digging it up and pulling it out as I go, but it's so deep it's a huge effort. We've been here 4 years, and I've barely made a dent. Even digging a 3' wide hole for a single plant takes over 2 hours. Fortunately, my hedge doesn't have the plastic to worry about, and I don't believe anyone has been driving on it.
Your landscaping journey sounds both challenging and rewarding. Transplanting blackberries, Fernbush, and Chokecherry is a great idea. Dealing with compacted gravel and hidden plastic is tough, but your determination shines through. Transforming your space is a labor of love, and the effort will surely pay off in a flourishing garden!Nrega
 
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I hate carrying water, don't know what your slopes are like, but I have rainwater harvested into a lifted butt which connects to other butts further down hill with a hose. By having the take off halfway down the first butt there is allowance for half a butt of water to collect if it rains too heavily, and that gets the pipe running faster as well. Worth thinking carefully about just where you want those butts before you start, difficult to move once it all starts working, and occasional in line taps are a good idea as well, for directing it.
 

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