Creating a Natural Fence in a No Dig Situation

JamesGreen7May 22, 2012

We have a bit of a predicament along a portion of our property line and I would very much appreciate some advice.

We were planning to use something like an emerald green arborvitae along the fence line pictured below, however when our utility lines were marked we found they run exactly in the spot we'd planted to dig. More specifically the cables run parallel to the fence line starting about 10 inches into our property out to about 60 inches into our property from the fence. These lines can be moved but the cost would be considerable, so I'm seeking other options. The fence is not ours so moving that is not an option.

My initial thought is to essentially create an above ground container garden that runs parallel to the fence using timers or ties. Once built we would weigh it down to ensure it does not topple over, fill with dirt, and plant.

My primary concerns are how much planting in such a container will limit growth of the plants, and also, given our somewhat cold winters in Iowa how the plants will fare given they will not have in-ground root protection. Other concerns are if the container box will get extremely hot during the summer months and basically cook the roots. I'm not sure if this concern is a logical one.

I'm willing to entertain other options and suggestions here. If the emerald greens are not the best option, perhaps a vine? The primary motivation here is privacy from a neighbor with an unsightly yard so something providing cover year round is preferred.

Thanks for any help

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Logs making a bed work too.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 11:09PM
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i think you can buy something like trellis planter. The bottom is a long rectangular planter, with fence or trellis anchored into the edge of the planter, so if you grow climbing plants, they will grow prosperously and generate a privacy yard. how do you think?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 11:20PM
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You don't say what the utilities are, but because they exist does not necessarily mean you can't or shouldn't plant. What are they? Do you know the depth? Is there are utility right-of-way easement concurrent with the area?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 11:34PM
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Thanks for the illustration and suggestions regarding the trellis.

Yardvaark - the utilities planted in the area along the fence were marked as electrical, cable, and phone.

I talked to someone at the cable company in more detail and they stated the line was "energized" as it fed multiple homes. The lines run between two junction boxes that are at the corners of our property. I couldn't obtain a depth but others have told me 6 to 12 inches is where they generally are.

As far as the easement that is something I am not sure about. I'll have to do some more research.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 9:22AM
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Since all the utilities are there, there's likely an easement. Also, if something happens to the utilities and the company needs to come out and make a repair, anything you've planted or placed (like a raised bed planter), will get removed by the utility company. They're not too picky about having their backhoe operators remove things.

I think the best option is a vine of some sort - they don't have too much of a footprint.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 9:59AM
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Are these utilities feeding your own home, or passing through your yard on the way to somewhere else? I know you said cable is feeding others, but we're not sure of the details of that yet. If the utilities are feeding other homes, you must find out about the easement. Can you check the survey from when you bought your property and see if an easement is marked on it? I note that other plantings presently seem to run concurrent with the utilities.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 12:51PM
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