Help design space between houses.

Brandywine72June 25, 2014

I need help planning the little gangway between my house and my neighbors. I live in a city row house, and while I adore my neighbors, our dinning rooms look directly on to each other and some privacy might be nice.

* I know NOTHING about gardening and will hire a landscaper to do the work. I just need advice on what to do and appreciate any suggestions. I am willing to spend $1 -2,000 if needed.

* I am not a fan of bamboo or anything too contemporary looking. Our house is a historic 1850s house and we want the outside to feel in place with the restored inside.

* Interior and exterior shots are below. The room with two windows is the dinning room and I want to block the view out those windows, which look into our neighbors. The shot with one window is the living room and I do NOT want to block the view out that window as I love sitting and looking out to the back yard. So, something that would sort of hug the fence or at least not block the entire pathway's sightline would be great.

* I am curious about both options for summertime and for year round greenery. And something easy to maintain and does not have a lot of debris and I won't kill easily.

* I live in Philadelphia. Zone 6.

(Excuse my sloppily posted pictures!)

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More pictures from interior.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 11:17AM
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Here is an interior shot from living room looking out.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 11:18AM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Drapes. Sheers plus something heavy like velvet or damask. I'd personally skip the puddling on the floor look, but that is your call. There isn't enough room to do something outside, but it is perfectly reasonable to close off a dining room and solve the problem that way.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 11:58AM
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I looks like you don't have any room for plants What are the measurements of these outdoor areas?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 6:08PM
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Talk to the neighbor: I'd remove that fence because it's not doing any good. I can't think of any landscape solutions aside from trellises in front of the windows with evergreen vines and you don't have enough room for those.

Plants in pots?

A gate in an arched arbor to block off the potting shed?

And inside the dining rooms, install bottom-up shades you can pull as needed.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 6:25PM
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Are you expecting to tear up the bricks? The brick work looks nice.

It seems that anything you plant outside to block the dining room windows will also block the living room window.

I agree with others. The privacy solution is inside the dining room. Louvered shutters on the inside on the lower half of the windows?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 4:32AM
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If you wish to keep the existing fence, it would look much better if you removed the top horizontal board and replaced it with a 2 x 4, and then capped the whole thing off with a 2 x 6, pitched at an angle (like a roof) to drain rainwater. I understand that weathering wood is desired for it's perceived low maintenance, but truly, it would look vastly better (and last longer) if painted. It would be a 1-hour job with a roller, and probably an hour to clean it with bleach before painting.

I have seen English Ivy grown into a chain link fence so that it was a turned into a green fence. It must be sheared like a hedge if one wishes to keep it from becoming too thick. Such panels could be strategically added above the existing fence. As an alternative, there is fake English Ivy that is made specifically to be woven into a chain link fence for screening purposes. Last week, I happened to drive by just such a fence. While it generally looked like ivy, it also looked very "engineered" with an artificial aura about it. (I stopped to investigate in order to determine what it was. The advantage, of course, it that there is never any trimming or worry about if it is getting enough water and fertilizer. (I added a link below.)

Another idea that occurs is to add panels of outdoor fabric that is stretched by being laced to a tubular steel frame (like a trampoline is stretched within a frame, but with lacing instead of springs.) It works better to use clothesline wire, cable or similar metal instead of rope, bungee or plastic ties. None of the latter hold up against sunlight. One advantage of fabric is that it doesn't create oppressive darkness.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fake Ivy for Chain Link Fence

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 6:44AM
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I might spend my $ on finding or having built something like this (the planters):

You could have them built taller than the fence, if they are not attached (to comply with height limits). Not sure what plants could grow in that space - what light there might be, but some tallish grasses would add some softness and more privacy, but probably only with sun. Evergreen ferns might work, too, as they will grow in the shade.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 1:01PM
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