Another Natural Boundary
By Joseph Parish
Once again a reader has expressed concern over being able to protect ones retreat or homestead area with the least amount of force necessary. In all reality this is a very large order since anyone with a firm determination to get onto your land will eventually succeed. The main object that we are looking at here is to make it extremely uncomfortable for them to try.
Once previously, I wrote an article on using rose bushes or some sort of thorny brush around your fence as a deterrent to those who would enter your property unlawfully. Once again I have come to rely upon Mother Nature and one of her plant children to help us out. Keep in mind that the suggestion that I am about to make will work only if your temperature range does not go below zero degrees.
Here in America, farmers and ranchers have often electrified barbed wire in the past to restrict entry to their property however in the southwestern portions of our country they often use a plant called Ocotillo to build a living fence. Few people have heard of this plant unless you live in that area. What makes it unique is its large, sharp spikes which tend to contain cattle.
This unusual plant is native to our desert areas of the southwest. It has low whip like canes which spread out from its base and the plant itself will eventually grow to a height of 15 feet and possibly just as wide. During the peak of its season it will be topped off with bright orange and red color tubular flowers. The Ocotillo is usually leafless for the majority of the year but may produce an abundance of leaves after a substantial rainfall. This is a protective measure built into the plant to compensate for drought conditions. What happens is that when there is a lack of rainfall the plant will shed its leaves in order to reduce its moisture lose. These desert plants are extremely drought tolerant.
They are native to areas of the Verde Valley and are frequently found on the south facing slopes. They require well drained soil and heat. Ocotillos are tolerant of temperatures as low as zero degrees.
Many people think of the Ocotillo as a cactus but it is not. The plants can likely be purchased from online Arizona nurseries as bare root stock. Once you have purchased these plants, you can transplant them the year round if care is used in the process. The greatest success would be during the months of March on into May. Pay attention to direction. In many desert plants the south side of the plant has become more sunlight resistant and when replanting the same orientation should be adhered to. Once you have started your plants you can continue to propagate them by placing pieces of the canes into the ground.
I can make no guarantees but I would think that most people would not find treading amongst thorns and spiky plants as too desirable.
Copyright @2010 Joseph Parish