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I have a small garden that backs onto a farmers field.  The cows eat all the ivy that is growing on the wall bull every few months they push the wall down and start eating everthing including Pyrocantha and burberis although they do leave the fox gloves alone.  Can anyone suggest something I can plant that gives a bit of colour but that the cows might leave?  They do love all the herbs, nettles.blackberry, brambles even honeysuckle.  The garden is north facing and only get sun from may to end of sepember, I'm also in the peak district park over 1000ft. Help please?  ps am considering moving but the views are beautiful.


I think you need to have a word with the farmer Ian if they're pushing the wall down. I assume the wall is the field boundary, in which case it's his responsibility to maintain it. Alternatively - could you put another boundary just to the inside of the wall - even if it's just posts and barbed wire?


Don't move. Some of the drystone wall fences I've seen on the farm where we holiday in Wales have posts stuck in the top with barbed wire strung between them. Definitely speak to the farmer as not only are your plants suffering, but luckily you haven't been the other side when the wall comes down.

Well we've had badgers, moles, mice, rats. I think cows are a first! I agree with Fairygirl, if the wall is the farmer's he needs to take responsibility and make it secure. Don't move from some of the world's best views Ian!

Farmers are legally responsible for their boundary fences and any subsequent damage injury or loss suffered as a result of failing to maintain their boundaries and any subsequent damage injury or loss caused as a result of their livestock wandering and being the cause of damage injury and loss.

Legalese but they are all insured most by the NFU, so ask the farmer for the details of his insurance company and tell him your'e going to make a claim against him.

Bet he fixes the wall and puts a fence up.


What will the cow be following, its nose or eyes? Would screening the garden help?

Electric fencing would keep them away from the wall it could be put just below the wall on the cow's side so you don't have to see it.  

I'd go with Dave's suggestion of asking him for his insurance details. Better to shock the farmer than the cows


A word of caution - some farmers can make your life very unpleasant if you get shirty with them.  Always better to ask nicely and just explain the issue politely. The last thing you need is a load of 'something' dumped on your driveway  or over your fence onto your plants. Believe me - it does happen. 

We don't really have much problem with cows here in Brum : )

But seriously must be very frustrating. I would try having a chat with the farmer and if not ring the NFU for advice, you could probably discuss the problem with them in general terms first to get some idea of what options you have.

Re electric fence - don't put anything on the 'field' side of the wall. That will bring all sorts of problems too. If you try that, put it on your side. Cows aren't the brightest of creatures, so a decent barrier keeps them out. Plant hawthorn if you don't want to put a fence or other type of physical barrier up,  and you don't get anywhere with the farmer. They really don't like being told what to do - even when you have every right to request the maintenance. You wouldn't believe what some of them will do. I've seen it loads of times.

Could you put some electric fencing just along the top if the wall- I don't know anything about it but maybe you can have just one or two wires?

As long as it is the type produced for animal enclosures I would have thought that would work and be acceptable?

I get on well with the farmer but as he's an old guy I tend to rebuild the wall myself and you are right, living in a beautiful small village with wonderful view does have it's compensation.  To a certain extent the cows are not too much of a problem it's the look of the garden ater they have raided.  I used Honeysuckle as that seems to grow back and flower again within a few days.  I like the idea of hawthorn, I'm not sure how well it will do as I haven't seen anying the local area plus if the cows like the pyrocantha will the hawthorn just be a nice gentle starter?

I will look into the electric fence idea, I used a water pistol to deter the local cats,(never actually hit one but the now avoid my garden and the birds are back) maybe the cows will learn as well.


Hawthorn's the most common boundary hedge for livestock as it provides a good dense barrier. You might need to protect it initially but it establishes quickly. If you're on good terms with the farmer then the best solution is to discuss how to make the wall a bit more substantial so that the cattle can't just push it over. It would be a shame if you had to sacrifice your plants continually - I know how that feels. Perhaps the farmer would let you mortar the wall as long as it didn't affect the look?

As you are in a rural area, you may be able to find trainees from ag college who will be able to help with hawthorn hedging etc.
I know wolves isnt close to you but ive got hawthorn which grows really well, just dont be shy of cutting it back or having it layered as it can be a bit of a bully!

I wonder if a simple trench on the field side (with farmers permission) would make it too much bother for them?



It is entirely the farmer's responsibility to keep his cows away from other people's property.

Visit him and ask him either to put up an electric fence or a permanent fence.

If his cows have damaged the wall it is his responsibility to repair it.  At his expense.  If he will not do so get it repaired and send him the bill.  The small claims court is available to you.  But do make sure you have something in writing or he will claim you never complained.

Does the farmer even know what his beasts are doing? Just have a quiet word with him about your garden, and try to find a non-threatening way of introducing a timescale into the conversation.


Joe - you're right about being non threatening. Careful negotiation is the only way. Doesn't matter that Ian's in the 'right' - farmers can be very good allies, but very bad enemies. I've seen it happen many times. 


I have a similar problem but with horses in the field behind me. One of them strayed into my garden last year & did quite a bit of damage - fortunately we were in the middle of the really messy stage of landscaping & we were able to make things right without too much effort.

The landowner is a bit 'strange' and has fallen out with a lot of people in the village and her response has been to just let weeds, hedgerows etc etc grow completely out of control so that neighbouring gardens have a real fight to keep their gardens looking nice. She has been taken to court more than once.

We have been here 3 years & whilst I am not friends with her, we do have a polite & respectful co existence (I think she was relieved I didn't take legal action last year!). We rub along to both our benefits by me approaching her if anything is affecting my garden / view & by her agreeing for me to have the work done. It's not ideal but she is getting work done she should (but wouldn't) do herself and I am getting the job done to my standards & in a way which is most beneficial & pleasing to me.

I would certainly chat to the farmer about this. Does he even know there is a problem? He might agree to do something about it straight away. It might be that he doesn't have the resources to deal with the problem but would be happy for you to sort it out if you have the cash to do it (or he might go halves). If so I would look at strengthening the wall and / or using electric fencing as suggested before.

I certainly wouldn't go down the threatening route except as a final resort.

If the cows don't eat foxgloves they might also resist aconitum (both are toxic) which don't mind a shadier garden.


We had a cow problem.  They are separated from our garden by an old barbed wire fence that comes up to their chests and we have put a green mesh fence Inside half of that to stop children and dogs escaping.   However the front half was planted with a holly hedge to act as a windbreak except it grew short and fat as the cows nibbled all the fresh young growth and kept it pruned. 

I have now erected some of that strong steel mesh that builders use for reinforcing concrete.  It is cut to 5' high and attached to the fence posts.  It is practically invisible so doesn't spoil my view and the cows, who are curious beasties, can still come and see us going about our business in the garden.  My holly hedge is now getting taller.

The wire mesh is very inexpensive from builders merchants and comes in lengths of 5m x 2 m.   You'd need a few wooden or concrete posts to hold it up and permission from the farmer unless you can erect it on your side of the wall.