Neighbor's Fence - My planting options?

odellohio10(6b)July 27, 2011

I hope this is in the right forum!

My neighbors and I have been involved in a property line dispute for the last few months. They wanted to put up a fence for their behaviorally challenged son, but the surveyor they hired said they owned our 100 year old limestone retaining wall PLUS 5 more feet into our yard. We had to file restraining orders and threaten to sue for adverse possession (because we've been taking care of said wall and 5 feet of lawn for 19 years). In the end, we settled for an easement (we live in a home my mother in law owns, I would not have settled for the easement). They tore down the wall and did a regrade last week, which looks awful and once they erect the privacy fence starting tomorrow, will leave us with a horrible slope towards the fence. I really wanted to plant something along this fence, but with the slope towards the fence, I'm not sure I can without adding more dirt.

I think even after the fence goes up, it'll still be mostly full sun. I am toying with the idea of putting spring flowering bulbs in a bed running along the fence about 15 feet. I read that putting summer flowering plants in the same bed is a bad idea, as the water they require would rot the bulbs. What types of summer flowering bulbs could I put in this area? I'd love to have spring/summer color and something that even if it's not blooming in fall, still have leaves that are interesting. Does such things exist? I would love to hear suggestions!

Thank you!

The fence is going to run right in front of the trees, up to the yellow "no trespassing" sign we have up.

Another view of where the fence will go - you might be able to see where the ground drops off - the fence will end up being to the left of that approx. 2-3 feet in areas.

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Hi there, I am not sure of your climate, but have you thought of Day Lillies. Hemerocallis sp.

I think they are lovely in the summer and have interesting leaves when not in flower.

Agapanthus sp. could be another consideration.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 11:59PM
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linda_schreiber(z5/6 MI)

You are in 6b Ohio? I would not worry about planting summer flowering plants along the same fence line as the spring bulbs. No problems.

As long as the later plants die back or can be cut back in the fall, the spring bulbs will do fine. If you want to plant other things, like some kinds of vines and perennials that do not die back, just plant the bulbs a bit in front of those.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2011 at 8:40PM
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What kind of fence are they putting in? How tall? How is it going to help their son as I don't see any other signs of a fence over that way, like across the back? What kind of problems does he have that he needs to be "walled in" Is he old enough to be out on his own or is it more so he can enjoy the backyard without people staring at him. If it's a chain-link & you have a dog, that could scare him. Might want to see what is going up as you may need to rethink what will go in there. You may need more privacy ,shrubs or trees.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 2:25AM
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sunnyca - Their son supposedly has autism. I say supposedly, because my 4 year old is on the spectrum, and from what I've seen of this boy, all he needs is a mother who will play with him, and discipline him when he misbehaves. My mom would've said, "ain't nothing a good butt whooping wouldn't fix."

The fence is being paid for by our county's MRDD and was to be chain link. However, they allow substitution if you can find a different type of fence for the same price, or pay out of pocket for the overage. They are substituting for Kentucky style fencing, but when we went to court I explained what an eyesore their property is. We had lots of natural barrier between us that they've torn down, so a Kentucky style fence between us meant I would have to look at a house with no siding, and every plastic playtoy ever sold in their yard, plus their two biting, barking dogs and unmoved lawn. So the judge ordered them to put up a 6 foot privacy fence between us and pay the difference in costs. So now, I don't have to look at them, and can plant beautiful flowers instead :-) it is a big mess, and hopefully, the fence will be up soon and I can get to planting. Right now, the people on the other side of them is disputing their survey results so everything has come to a screeching halt.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 12:33PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

It looks to me like the 6' privacy fence will be located significantly lower than your yard (if I understand the photos correctly, about 1-2' lower?). So you'll be able to see over the fence. Because there is an eyesore issue, you may want to plant a narrow hedge on your side of the fence. (When I say "hedge" I'm referring to the general shape and function of this planting. It could be a mixed planting of different varieties. It could be a row of narrow trees rather than shrubs, or mixed trees and shrubs.)

When you see plant tags or other sources of plant info, the height and width given are for "mature" plants of 10 years. If you divide those numbers by 10, you will know the vertical and horizontal growth rate per year (of course the plant is already probably a year or two old when you buy it). You'll either be looking for something that stays quite narrow or something that can be pruned (if you don't mind the time and effort). Look for plants described as narrow, columnar, or fastigiate.

Plants may slow down their growth as they get older, but they never stop growing. So an evergreen that grows 3' a year will give you the desired privacy in only a year or two -- but in another ten years, it'll be taller than your house ... and still growing.

Calculate how much shade the area gets, because that will limit your choice of hedge shrubs or trees. It may also affect how quickly they grow. If you have questions about how particular varieties will do in your conditions, the people at the Shrubs and Trees forums can help you.

If the fence is to the south of your house, consider also the amount of shade the fence and hedge will create, and the effect that will have on the plants in that area.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 4:12PM
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There wasn't supposed to be that drop off, but the neighbor and his landscaper misled us in what the final result would look like after the wall was gone and the regrade was done. Too late now, so the fence will be a little lower. We plan to back fill once the fence is up, to fill in the gap.

I think the area is too narrow for trees or shrubs, at least closer to the house, and we were also forced to agree not to plant anything that would prohibit the neighbor from accessing the fence for repairs if needed. So, I definitely need to make sure whatever I choose will die back at the end of the season.

That is the south side of the house. The first 15-20 feet of that area gets morning sun, but the rest is afternoon shade. There was significant natural foliage from small bushes and honeysuckle there before, so I think the fence will probably mimic that once it goes up...well, I hope, or else I will have to start a new plan!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 7:41PM
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Since your neighbors will probably to put up something completely unlike what you're envisioning, I would wait until the fence goes up to see what you need and want and then choose plants to fit those needs.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 8:39PM
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I would wait to see what they do, but thankfully, they are court ordered to put up a 6 ft dog eared privacy fence exactly where the wall was. The surveyor has already marked where the wall was, and the fencing company has flagged the fence line. The only way they can mess it up is to put the wrong type fence in. And I will be there watching the installation, court order in hand; they wouldn't get very far if they didn't follow the order.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 8:49PM
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linda_schreiber(z5/6 MI)

Once the fence is up, is there any reason why you can't attach maybe poles to the fence uprights, extending for more feet, with either lattice or even strings, to provide a structure for vines to fill in, and block the view?

I'm thinking of the many Clematis that grow fast to full cover, but do not grow back on old vines. They could get you nice, thick cover along and well beyond the height of the fence, and you could still plant many things at their feet. And in the fall, you just hack them at the bottom, and get rid of the growth. "Wouldn't prevent them from repairs, if needed...."

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 9:05PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

We plan to back fill once the fence is up, to fill in the gap

You mean building the soil up against the fence?

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 11:22PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

As I said in your other thread, I would do the opposite of back-filling. I would suggest excavating a flat area inside the fence. Gardening on a downhill slope away from where you can stand, crouch, or kneel is a nightmare.

It will still be awkward that the fence is too low - in fact, I think the judge erred in not ordering them to build a retaining wall with the fence on top of it. That makes a nicer outcome for both sides. Perhaps he neglected to consult a landscaping professional :-) But awkward is better than impossible.

I've linked below to a thread by a homeowner who has a low fence all around his property. It had been neglected and so he is unhappy with it, but you can imagine how much harder it would be to meet his challenges if he couldn't stand on flat ground.

If you leave it sloped, I would be reluctant to do anything other than grass, and trees planted fairly near the fence to block views above it. You can mow, but weeding... not so comfortable. And anywhere you plant flowers, you WILL be weeding.

By the way, I'm curious whether you disputed their survey results as well? I understand this was in your MIL's hands, of course.


Here is a link that might be useful: Guy with

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 11:42AM
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Their son supposedly has autism. I say supposedly, because my 4 year old is on the spectrum, and from what I've seen of this boy, all he needs is a mother who will play with him, and discipline him when he misbehaves. My mom would've said, "ain't nothing a good butt whooping wouldn't fix."

There is an attitude you might want to work on before you venture out into the garden.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 6:23PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Parents are doing amazing things these days, Ink; what you think are basic parenting skills have gone out the window. And frankly, given someone who needs a fence to manage their son, and who will run roughshod over the neighbour to build it, I'm thinking the attitude that needs fixing might not be on the OP's side of the fence.

Unfortunately, you are right to the extent that attitude begets attitude. So being the one more likely to paste on a smile and be polite to the neighbour's kid has its merits!


    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 6:48PM
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Ink, there is much you don't know about the situation, and I would ask you to refrain from comments about my attitude until you know what I know.

These children are being done a disservice by their parents, and my tax dollars are paying the price. Their son needs honest to God parenting, and I think then, he would be far more manageable. His step-dad works most of the day and most evenings, as a pizza dlivery guy. his mother doesn't come out of the house unless it is to smoke. She now has the county providing a 40 hour a week caregiver for this child, because she simply doesn't interact with him. Last week, he was outside in his underwear for nearly 30 minutes, running through the historic park flanking the birthplace of our 18th President; mom and caregiver were inside. When they came to look for him, he ran into the highway. Neither picked up their pace from a leisurely stroll to save him, and he was nearly hit by traffic. This week, he grabbed a knife, attacked his 9 year old sister and is currently in the local Children's hospital for mental health emergency treatment.

I'm not disputing the child has issues, and it would probably be safer for them to have a fence for the boy. But I know from my own experience, a high functioning autistic child with a parent who is active and involved and willing to provide structure and discipline copes far better than one who's parents are only out for freebies at the taxpayer's expense. My daughter doesn't need a fence, because I go outside with her, watch her, and interact with her. She is continually reminded of the boundaries and behaviors that are acceptable and she mostly stays within those boundaries.

Tomorrow, the neighbors promise the fencing company will be here to start the fence install. Once it is done, we are going to backfill so that the gap between our lawn and the fence is leveled a bit, and then I'm going to be focused on keeping my area nice, and my children close at hand. And hopefully, the fence will be beneficial to this child, because with parents like those, that kid needs all the help he can get. Hopefully, in the future, the parents will learn not everything is handed to them and that sometimes, you have to work to earn the things your family needs. No one is "entitled" except perhaps our military. And if some think that means I have a bad attitude, then so be it.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 11:53PM
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You sound like a very caring neighbor. In our area I know several teachers & they get kids that are next to impossible & some end up having a teacher's aide sitting with them at all times. (Sorry can't do paragraphs)I had a child in Bible class for kids under 5 yrs old. It was obvious she had never been in a class, kept trying to get up, I checked to be sure her feet touched the floor & they did. She did get interested in the lesson as I get animated & little ones like that but hour is long time for young ones so along with Cheerios(given with parent permission) I had kids color pic to take home pertaining to lesson. She couldn't even hold a color at age 4, then after helping her a great deal, we moved on to doing some wooden puzzles, I had bought as it helps with their dexterity & most kids love doing them. She looked blank. I helped her do the simple 4 piece fruit puzzle several times & she finally "got it" Aunt that brought her asked how she did, I wasn't sure I should say anything but I told her she couldn't hold a color or a pencil, couldn't write her name or do puzzles. She thanked me & left. Fast forward 1 yr. later, I was shocked to see them back, took the child in class & she was very smart, well dressed & charming child. Aunt asked how it went, I told her perfect. She had suspected child abuse,& neglect, took her home that day & asked if she could take her home with her (out of town). They said sure, they were more into drugs, smoking, drinking etc. What a turn around that loving aunt did for that child. She is a very good student in school & gets the love she needed. A lot of parents, shouldn't be!! I hope things don't get bad next door, with 2 biting dogs all that kid has to do is swing his arm around quick & dog feels threatened & kid will get bite on arm or worse. Be glad the dogs will be on their side of fence but trouble is if whole yard isn't enclosed you will have problems with dogs also. I wish you the best, you may want to enclose part of your side & back yard so safer for your family.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 1:50AM
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Thankfully, they are enclosing their full yard. Our property line will be the only part with the privacy fence though. It rained this morning, so the fence people were only able to place markers where the posts are going. Surprisingly, it's looking like it won't be too much lower than where the regrade begins. I just want them to get it done, so I can start prepping for bulbs in that area!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 12:46PM
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