Explore Plants

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 

Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - March 19, 2009

From: Albany, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Living fence to contain sheep in Indiana
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I would like to plant a living fence that would also contain sheep. I have researched this but I cannot find a definite list of trees or shrubs to use. Do you have any suggestions?

ANSWER:

What you want is something thick and stickery, right? Well, we know a native plant, Mahonia trifoliolata (agarita) that also has the common name "baby-sitter plant" because it is sometimes used in the Southwest to protect lambs from the circling coyotes. It shelters and feeds birds, is evergreen and attractive. The bad news is, it is native only to New Mexico, Texas and Arizona. Randolph and Delaware Counties, Indiana are apparently in USDA Hardiness Zones 5a (average minimum temperature -20 to -15 deg. F) to 5b (average minimum temperature -5 to -10 deg. F). Agarita is hardy to +15 deg. F. Scratch that idea.

We actually don't feel you are going to find a plant that will give you year-round confinement of your sheep and protection from predators. To begin with, whatever you plant is going to take several years to get to a height that will be reasonable for protection. Plus, a sheep anxious enough to go roaming or a predator hungry enough to have a bite of lamb could almost undoubtedly find a way to get through just about any shrub foliage that you had in place. 

You already know more about sheep fencing than we do, but here is a website from Sheep 201 on Fencing. We looked at our Native Plant Database to see if there might possibly be an Indiana native shrub that would work, but the closest we could come was Juniperus communis var. depressa (common juniper). Both its cones and leaves are toxic, which would pretty well eliminate that as a livestock fence.  We hate to say so, but sometimes native plants are NOT the solution.

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Non-native Genista racemosa from Houston
June 17, 2012 - Read your info on Genista Racemosa. Doesn't address my problem of it not blooming this year. It's in full sun and growing well, about 30" tall & round. Bloomed last year. We're feeding with ba...
view the full question and answer

Selection of a small variety of Desert Willow for SE Texas
August 02, 2011 - Looking to plant desert willow as shrub. Any helpful tips to keep height down and plant full or bushy.
view the full question and answer

What fertilizer can make potted plants flower in Austin, TX?
July 05, 2011 - I have a Lantana and esmarelda planted in large pots. They froze last winter but have both come back strong except they do not bloom even though I have fertilized. Is there something special I need ...
view the full question and answer

Plant Suggestions for a Partly Sunny Steep Bank in Illinois
November 09, 2013 - I am looking to plant something on a steep clay bank on our Illinois property. It is on the edge of our dirt road with trees above the bank and is partly sunny. What would work best for that type of a...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for shrubs for a 150ft. barrier.
March 25, 2009 - What do you suggest for planting 150' site barrier only 15' high western Idaho?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.