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Stinging nettles are known to be a common annoyance. Are there any examples of nettles being used to deter intruders in combination with other methods of physical security (perimeter fences)

Also are they practical considering the speed at which they grow? How do nettles compare with thorny bushes?

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I have nettles growing as weeds on the perimeter of my property and it has never occurred to me to regard them as any kind of security. Even though they are fast growing. Their defects would include:

  • they die down in the winter
  • flimsy physical barrier
  • sting cannot penetrate strong clothing

There are various types of hedge and shrubbery which are hardier in the winter, which can throw up a pretty impenetrable barrier, and whose thorns can do serious damage.

Blackthorn (which is seriously thorny and dense) and holly come to mind. This RHS page has a longer list.

Side note: my father, as a farmer, used to pull up nettles with his bare hands. It's not a heavily armed plant.

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Yes nothing physical and easy to guard against, but I would think they wold be good at keeping small kids out. They're one of those life lessons all us who grew up in the UK learnt at some point or another! –  winwaed Jun 24 '11 at 15:50
    
To be fair - my kids still run through the half an acre of nettles at the bottom of my garden every summer - you would think they would learn, but the mild discomfort isn't enough to prevent them doing it again and again. They don't run through the Rosa Rugosa any more though :-) –  Rory Alsop Jun 24 '11 at 17:49

No. I bought a house this year with existing raised bed gardens. I found out later that the beds are full of Stinging Nettle seed. I also have a problem keeping my wife's cat out of my garden. In an attempt to turn two bad situation into a good situation, I allowed the nettle to grow in all areas not taken up by vegetables in order to keep the cat out. The nettle does work to keep the cat out but any human sized intruders will just walk right through it with a mildly irritating sting for the rest of the day. If the intruder happened to have arthritis, they may actually feel better after walking through the nettle.

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I have to say, stinging nettle helping arthritis is possibly the most interesting thing I've learned today! –  Suzanne Hillman Jun 24 '11 at 23:30

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