Survival Landscaping Part 2: Barbed Wire

By Bev Sandlin, Fillmore County Master Gardener

Whether you are bugging in or bugging out to a retreat location, barbed wire may be your most inexpensive perimeter barrier and warning system of an impending breach if you attach simple bells to the wire.

Barbed wire was first invented in the United States in 1874 to contain livestock inexpensively. Its first use in war was in 1898 in the Spanish-American War and it has been a staple item in wars and conflicts ever since besides being used in prisons and concentration camps as an effective human containment fence.

barbed wire above chain link

barbed wire solder

Barbed wire can be purchased at any farm store for from $40 to $85 for a standard 80 rod roll which covers 1320 feet stretched. I was surprised to see that it now comes in green. I have put in a fair number of barbed wire fences in my life and have found that the cheaper stuff is definitely more wicked. Loosely coiled it will generally cover 5-600 feet.barbed wire green

Most rolls of barbed wire can be deployed just by sticking a length of pipe or wood through the hole in the middle of the roll. Please use heavy leather gloves when handling barbed wire.

barbed wire on stick

For home defense purposes you do not want to stretch it. Rather leaving it laying loosely coiled around the perimeter of your property will deter most intruders. The ends can be loosely tied off to bushes or a stake or cement block, even a large rock set on the end will stop it from coiling back on you. It sends a signal that you are ready to defend your home.

barbed wire loose coil


In a landscaped environment with a hedge or even a lot of flowers around the perimeter, if there were an instance WROL the barbed wire can be deployed in less than an hour and hidden by the landscaping. Nice hedge around this farmstead, now just imagine loosely coiled barbed wire strung through that hedge and what a deterrent that would be to potential intruders.

Farmstead Arborvitae Hedge

Farmstead Arborvitae Hedge

In my reading about the economic collapse of Argentina one of the things that came up was neighbors and neighbor kids raiding the gardens that people were surviving on. No one wants to shoot a kid for raiding a garden, but if your life depends on that garden, what can you do? By deploying barbed wire loosely around the garden it will slow people getting into it, and it also really slows them from getting out of the garden with their booty. Your garden will be less of a target than other people’s gardens.

It is recommended in most defensive situations that you have a clear field of vision right around your home – lawn. But it is also recommended that any low lying windows have some protective shrubbery to deter entrance or peeping Toms. Here too barbed wire can be an excellent deterrent loosely coiled beneath windows or across driveways or entrances that you do not want breached.

Your barbed wire can be fairly easily rolled up when the threat subsides and is reusable. What else can you buy for less than $50 that will provide an effective perimeter barrier and early warning system with some inexpensive bells attached?

NOTE: For any of you using barbed wire as livestock fencing, alternate which side of the post it goes on so that if something takes it down (deer, horse, bull, snowmobile, 4 wheeler runs through it) it will only take down a 20′ section of fence as opposed to a 200′ section.


Links to other parts of this series:

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