hide fence-continious hedge or various plantings?

gigim(8A SC)March 2, 2012

I have an ugly chain link fence across my shallow back yard. My husband thinks planting a row of one type of tall evergreen tree/shrubs will provide a "frame" that I can plant my "various" plants in fron of. I think we should start out with a variety of plants since the back yard is not very deep anyway and also planting a long hedge of anything will not be cheap and will cut into the budget for the "front" plantings. I say chocolate, he says vanilla - how do we compromise?

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What are you "various" plants you plan on using in front of the hedge? If they're all low plants - ground covers and flowers, etc., I can see his point of having a backdrop. If your "various" plants include shrubs and other plants of various heights, then his hedge won't get seen and just take up valuable real estate.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 5:25PM
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How "shallow" is shallow? Trees and shrubs do eat real estate. Although there are some exceptions, tall evergreens (my mind goes to conifers at the mention of "evergreens" but I know that's not always the case) can eventually have a wide ground sweep.

How long is the fence?

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 5:53PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

You can also propagate your own to save money. Buy one Ilex or upright yew or juniper or something, and take cuttings.

I actually concur that a fairly solid evergreen backdrop can make a perennial bed fronting it all the more spectacular. However, there are some compromises. Plants trying to grow in front of a hedge (or fence or house wall) will tend to lean away from it for light. So with a hedge, you kind of have to pull the plants a fair way away from it so they get light from all sides if they are to grow evenly. You also have to get in and maintain the hedge, perhaps, so a path in front of it is helpful = more space.

You can also make the fence green/solid in other ways. There are various synthetic products designed for this, or bamboo mats/slats, for example. You don't see them much once your other shrubs are in, so they don't matter too much.

Dimensions of the yard would be useful.

One key piece of advice is that if you are now looking at an empty yard, all you have to look at is the fence and so you argue over that. Once you have things planted in front of it, your eye will have other things to rest on and you may not notice it as much, maybe not argue. So you could always plant all your stuff first, and then see if he still feels you need the hedge. If he does, you may then agree. Leave enough space for it from the outset (but plan for a really skinny plant - I love the columnar yews).

Karin L

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 7:17PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

I think Ms. Vanilla could be a lover of gardening and all things planterly and Mr. Chocolate might be attracted to simplicity of order and ease of maintenance.
- then again I could be wrong, it's happened once before ;-0
But if I am on to something then one begs to ask the question : Who is going to maintain the garden ?
If it is going to be a shared job , then compromise and create a Vanilla-Chocolate swirl : narrow evergreens to the back of the border and wild horticultural abandonment to the front.
If this is going to be Ms. Vanilla's happy voyage into the world of gardening, then she has a strong argument for indulging her hobby - ( * attention to the difference between 'job' of maintaining and ' love of a hobby... and maintaining it too ) - * Note to Ms. Vanilla, this could be your negotiation point.

Those of us who practice landscape design for a living know that one of our most well worn hats is that of a psycho-analyst or marriage mediator.
It's never just about the tulips, .. unfortunately.

And great question about 'how shallow is shallow ?'
How shallow is it ?

Here's some great examples of a mixed border in what some of us consider shallow :

This back yard is maybe about 12 feet wide in this view
Design by David Feix-
From david's garden photos

15 foot wide mixed border up against an absolutely fugly wood fence
From Pina Colada May 15

About 8 feet between wall and boxwood hedge before it drops down the hill.
By the wonderful and handsome Todd Cole and Steve Suzman.
From random photos

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 7:33PM
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Who owns the chain link fence? You or neighbor?

I suggest you post a picture of the area that references some of what's around it.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 7:47PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

In case a photo is a daunting prospect for you, Gigim - not everyone wants to show their yard or house to the world - perhaps you could let us know how we are doing on answering your question without it. Have contributions so far helped you to see your way clear?

Karin L

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 8:48PM
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cyn427(z7aN. VA)

Everyone has given you excellent responses. I am going to share my totally unprofessional opinion. I just put in a chain link fence to replace my board-on-board fence in order to open up the view to the woods. I felt closed in by the wooden fence even though we have a large yard. I am planting a variety of shrubs in front of the fence. I did not want the upkeep required of a hedge. I have put in six camellias (evergreen and flowering), several euonymous (evergreen), some exochorda (deciduous), and a small evergreen tree/shrub that I can't remember the name of without going out to look-might be some sort of yew (evergreen). All should eventually reach at least 7-8, feet and if they go higher, fine. I already have two hollies further down the hill (backyard is sloped). I have staggered things and as everything grows, I think they will fill in nicely and look natural. I plan to continue planting along the fence line this year with some rhododendron near the bottom since it is very shady, but also adding more of what I have as well as entirely different shrubs. I will also add more small shrubs (azaleas maybe and/or more natives) in front of what I have.

I think this way of planting adds dimension, depth, and interest and will really camouflage the fence without giving my garden a closed-in feel. I also have no desire to have to prune a hedge! Can't put a ladder on the hill and getting too old to climb one anyway. :)

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 2:23PM
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gigim(8A SC)

Wow, this is so cool to have advice! Cannot post pics now as I am using the hubs work computer (Mr Chocolate). THe yard is about 25 feet deep from the patio to the fence and has a pretty steep slope up to the fence, the fence is perhaps 30 feet across the back. If I were to get my way I was thinking tall evergreens (yew, holly ?) perhaps some that flowered (camilia's, gardenia's)? Dont know what else.

He says I can pick what ever I want to plant he just wants the first row after the fence to be one consistant plant type.

One other issue - since you are all being SO helpful. RIght now the slope is covered in Bermuda grass. He thinks he can cover the grass with landcapers cloth from the fence down as far as we want beds and then just dig holes in the fabric to plant and this will kill the grass. I think this is crazy and I am pretty sure you will agree with me so I will not even go into why I think this is crazy. So the question is...is there any way to get rid of the grass other than digging it all up with a shovel?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 5:48PM
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The reason I asked about fence ownership is because, if it's yours, you could plant a vine that grows up the fence, covers it and acts as a backdrop. Here's a photo of ivy used to do that. (Not recommending ivy, it's just the idea.) There are any number of vines that could be grown on a vine and be pretty easy to take care of. Some of them evergreen. It takes less room than any shrub you could grow in front of the fence.

With Bermuda on the slope your husband's idea of getting rid of it will never work. It will be a disaster as there's nothing worse than having a bunch of plants all tangled up with bermuda. Someone may know a better procedure than this, but the only way I know (other than digging it all out which is for practical reasons impossible) is spray it with a very strong dose of Round-up. Wait some time and let it re-grow. Spray again. Let re-grow. Spray again. Maybe after the 3rd time most will be gone and you can work it spot by spot (diligently) from that point or change to another chemical. But if you don't keep after it ruthlessly, it will be a nightmare. Placing any black plastic over it is not sufficient to kill it. It would take roofing metal or plywood. It's a very tough plant.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 8:11PM
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Round-up and the following are pretty widely available at Lowes, Home Depot, etc.

From the internet...
"Ornamec Bermuda grass killer- herbicide which is used to kill or destroy Bermuda grass without affecting other plants or grass. This type of grass killer treats grasses within 48 hours and unwanted Bermuda grasses are killed completely in 1-3 weeks."

"Bayer Bermuda grass killer- Bayer Advanced Bermuda grass is a selective Bermuda grass killer used in fescue lawns - which removes unwanted Bermuda grass weeds without effecting other grass."

Have never used the Ornamec or Bayer products as I don't have Bermuda grass, but I've used Round-up to kill weeds between my patio bricks. Round-up is not selective though - it's an equal opportunity killer.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 10:41PM
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