I need to hide a metal fence and the retention pond behind it

atlcharmNovember 4, 2007

Hi All,

I hope I posted in the right forum. On the left side of my house sits a retention pond which is surrounded by a metal fence. As you can imagine, this is quite the eyesore. My idea was to grow fast growing trees along the side of the fence and along the front. This is a good idea, but I need an immediate solution. I want this hidden now. As I was browsing the internet last night I discovered rolled fences, primarily bamboo. From what I can tell online, they look nice. This is definitely a cheap alternative and seems like it will look nice. Another option I saw was some product that will make your fence look like it is behind a hedge - however this seems like it will look very cheap and fake. Here are the links I found and also pictures of my eyesore. Any ideas or input. Any photoshop experts would be greatly appreciated. :)





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All of the other fences in your neighborhood appear to be wooden stockade fences. Putting up a fence in front of theirs or attached to their (with permission of course...) will blend in the fence, and make it look like a typical for your area. That's the fastest,long-term with qualitly route, but not the cheapest. If the fence goes up to your house, then this area will appear to be part of your lawn.
Any plantings will obviously take awhile to get established.

One thing that draws attention to this area is all of the greenery behind the fence/wall in contrast to the flat grass lawn leading up to the enclosure.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2007 at 8:29AM
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Yeah Rhodium,

I guess it would make sense to have the fence be the same style as the neighbors it will just get pricey.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2007 at 7:27PM
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saypoint(6b CT)

Fast growing trees are not always the best solution, as you may find later that they are either weak plants, or that they get much bigger than you need. If you need an instant fix, and cost is an issue, slap the bamboo on for now and start planting a permanent screen of thoughtfully selected mixed shrubs that will fill in and take over, leaving you with a screen that will be a long term asset. The bamboo will rot out and need to be removed eventually, or it will become an eyesore itself.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2007 at 8:20AM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

Altcharm, surely you are pulling our leg. The only eyesore I see is the exorbitant montrosity of a lawn with trees planted in a row in the middle of it. If it were me, I'd do as much as I could to see the pond and woods and the wildlife it attracts.
Another wooden fence will make it look like Fort Apache.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 1:56PM
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A retention pond is not a real pond... it's like a huge raingarden designed to storm run-off for percholation.

They are designed like an infiltration gallery of a treatment plant and not for landscape beauty. Hence the real dilema how do you landscape for the views you can't control?

    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 2:53PM
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Thank you Rhodium. Well put...

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 12:11AM
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It seems the houses there are pretty large and elegant. I don't think the bamboo would fit. How about some sort of fast growing evergreen vines or flowering vines. Nothing too showy or it will draw attention to it. How about something else as a focal point that will draw the eye away from there. So something more towards the front or towards the bottom of the drive? Also, over time, if you kind of layer the plantings (trees, shrubs, groundcovers, or flowers) out from the fence it will look more woodland
with the vines as a backdrop and the woods beyond the fence. If you're in Atlanta, which I am guessing from your username and zone, you probably don't have any water in that pond right now. Keep in mind the water needs and the drought when you do select plants. Good luck with this and with the drought.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 12:29AM
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From your picture, it looks like the side of the fence running long your yard is already pretty well screened by evergreens? The front of the enclosure looks like it has a large double gate. I would be very surprised if you are able to put either a fixed fence or any trees/shrubs in front of this access.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2007 at 8:07PM
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I figured that but can't get any help from the developer or HOA in determining who is responsible for the retention pond. Earlier this year, I had an invasion of kudzu escaping the pond and I had to pay a lot of money to get that cleaned up. The developer and HOA were absolutely of no help. I love my home, but feel I may have made a mistake. The HOA and development are not very responsive or helpful and this retention pond is such as eyesore. My idea to put a fence up would have maybe included a gate where the gate already is, so that there would be access, but frankly I don't even feel that anyone will bother me because no one want to take responsibility for the pond now.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2007 at 8:21PM
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Do you own the land in front of the fence or does the property line run along the side of your garage?

Either way, the reason this looks so bad is that you visually claim it. By maintaining the lawn up to its edge it becomes the defining perimeter of your space.

Since you mention that you want to put things on the fence, it sounds like you own what is in front. The last resort would be to put something on the fence, in my opinion. It only reinforces your visual claim to it and will further tie your property to it.

Visually distance yourself from this. You don't have to hide it so much as make it insignificant.If you really look around for ugly things that don't seem to get noticed, you may be surprised how many are around.

If you do not need to use the entire lawn in front of this area, I would suggest interupting the space. Right now there are 3 trees planted parallel to the fence and a rectangular lawn built off of that fence line. It all psychologically works in reverse as well - the rectangle makes you focus on the edge (fence), the row of trees again makes your mind organize around it.

There are two things you can do right away. First you can destroy the rectangular shape of the lawn and move the trees. Secondly, you can take those same psychological effects and use them somewhere else to get the mind to fixate on rather than the retention area.

One way to do that would be to group the trees in a more triangular planting. I would suggest doing that by bringing the two of them to join the one that is closest to the driveway (right of the gate). If you did that, it puts the gate in the back ground and frames the middle of the space. If you did that to the left of the gate, it would reinforce the gat by framing it between the trees and the house.

It makes sense to screen the concrete header, but not with a straight hedge, but with asymetrical depth of evergreens. You could also use the plantings to visually justify an ameoba shaped lawn area that futher breaks the attraction to the fence.

You could also, or instead, add a nice fence (maybe 4' white picket)parallel to your driveway that may turn out in front of that lawn area. That will bring the attention back inward toward the house. You could put a line of trees behind that to reinforce it and nice plantings in front of it as well. The trees behind (or really above and behind) create a layered set of curtains with the fence. This really distracts from the fence and lawn even though they are in plain sight.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2007 at 8:41AM
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I'm back. I haven't done anything yet due to monetary issues. I'm ready now although I don't want to spend a arm and leg. I am leaning towards planting leylands assymetrically in front of the fence or placing evergreen vines on the fence as someone suggested. Anyone have pictures of this being done. The evergreen vines sounds like the cheapest option, but I wonder how fast it would cover the fence. Any ideas on the best option.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 9:19PM
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Here is a link I found showing examples? Considering the photos of my fence and house do you think any of the photos in the link would work for me? I want something that does not die in the winter. I want coverage year round. http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/nwest/msg090153425026.html

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 9:28PM
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If I do go with the vine I am thinking of the Clematis Armandi pictured here: http://www.waysidegardens.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/StoreCatalogDisplay?storeId=10151&catalogId=10151&langId=-1&mainPage=LGprodview&ItemId=43999

Thoughts! I do think it is beautiful. I am wondering what will provide faster coverage the leylands or the clematis.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 1:11AM
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Don't feel you have to hide the whole thing, just the worst parts, The rest you can work with. If you add some value to the gate, and de-emphasize the concrete barriers, that will help. Tweaking the plants inside, will make a big difference. Solid fencing would make it worse. Plants in line with the fence, are not so good...

The yard is now, hard and formal, right up against the cheap looking concrete structure, and into the wild... TRANSITION!
As Laag said above, soften that transition zone. Hide the barriers. Formal linear rows add an unfortunate emphasis. You need curves, and height variations, that can play peekaboo. The glimpses from the house and street, can be tantalizing, not dizzying.

Treat it as if it were a wonderful area that's so lovely, that it's too nice to share. The great English designers of centuries ago, Would ADD ruins, for interest. Look up Capability Brown.
Hack down a couple of things you hate most, in there. Use strong plant arrangements and plants with strong shapes inside, to emphasize, a continuation of a curved line. Or use a plant insider as a featured design element. There will be some cool plants in there, that can be your friends.Add a flowering tree or so, IN there, like Carolina Sweetshrub, native azaleas, and Redbud. These are wild, and, decorative and it won't seem such a weed patch.

* See about having the gate straightened. Having it banged up doesn't seem fair. Why does that happen?
If the pond serves several houses, maybe the others could also chip in for the gate. A little decorative reinforcement, [say, steel scrolls, at the corners] could bring it closer to giving a sense of value, & mystery, beyond.
-Little durable, onion shaped, or pointed elements, on the posts could give the fence a less ordinary air.
Flank the gate with sweet olive.

* Next, the concrete. You can mossy up the jersey barriers, with sour milk, well thinned with water. If you tint them, use a different dull tone than the drive. A line of shrubs just taller than, & in front of, the barriers, will keep the neighborhood from looking slummy. Tall Annuals will help for a year or two.
The very pale driveway is the most dominant feature in the landscape, and steals most of the attention from the house. Stain it a more medium tone. A value closer to the deep house color, will bring the focus up to the house. The major focus is on the drive. The drive adds power to the concrete jersey barriers, uh oh...

The curving line of shrubs, could be:
*Oval shrubs that get to 10' high, like Sweet Olive, and some camellias,
*shorter shrubs, out in front of The taller ones, like azaleas.
-A cutting, garden and/or short veggies tucked in behind, out of sight.
A curved flower border of wonderful favorites, in front.

*** Keep a hard edge on the side towards the drive, and a softer, taller, looser, growth towards the wild, and farther from the house. Maybe try a short row of crisp shrubs, between the gate drive and the house drive. Try some sketches.

* If you reeeally like rows, Make a rectangular decorative planting feature to the right of the house.

Try a vine on the far side of the pond. Dutchman's pipe, loses leaves in the winter, but it grows very fast and is the host plant for the lovely pipevine swallowtail butterfly.... Not a lot of vines keep their leaves.

Tiny shrubs are cheap and grow much faster than large
plants. Flowers, fruit, perfume,... have some fun.

Have you ever been to Florida? Most town lakes that you have seen there, especially in the large parks,[!] are used not just for runoff, but for water treatment. These are landscaped areas.

Kudzu that has not been poisened [ with any pesticides] is edible. Yes, you can eat it.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 10:04AM
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Hi atlcharm, I just followed that link, 2 up, to the vines on chain link. lovely !
Did you follow to see the photo of the cedar trellis/fence in front of the planted chainlink? That might be an option too. It's distracting, and varies the perception of height.
Sorry I got a little carried away, with the wordy post.

Here's a seed source to a large growing native vine,
a dutchman's pipe. The vines forum says it takes awhile then gets huge. It's an aristolochia[sp?]

Here is a link that might be useful: pipevine seeds

    Bookmark   February 19, 2008 at 11:07PM
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Hi Florey,

I love your ideas. I am leaning towards the cedar with vines or back to the trusty evergreens. I am in the process of getting quotes now.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2008 at 11:52PM
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Hi, Am looking forward to more photos, as you make progress.
Laag has great ideas. We said the same thing in different ways.
Try some different vines.Some will do better than others.
Good luck florey

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 6:53PM
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I would certainly try to preserve the benefit you have of the "long view" into the green space treetops, which means just planting somewhat lower small trees and shrubs in the foreground to distract you from the fence, provide more of sense of privacy and home-sized scale, but not be a solid thing that looks like stuff growing on a wire fence. You'll never have complete coverage of the fence with something that looks perfect, and it won't ever look like a vine-covered ancient brick wall; so just let it go.

I have really tried to take to heart the concept of visual distraction with something very pleasant to look at, rather than blockade or camoflage, for various utilitarian structures, for not-so-pretty views across the street, and so on.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 7:19PM
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I am calling out Laag and Florey, anyone else who has ideas are welcome to help. I've decided that another fence or even the vines might bring more attention to the fence.


I see what you are saying about building the white picket fence. Could the same idea work with live trees? Instead of building the fence just add some trees parrallel to my driveway to form a privacy screen? I'd think buy putting the trees closer to the drive way this would pull the eyes away from the retention pond pushing it more into the background? what do you think?

If this works then maybe I can build on that if neccessary by adding a line of shrubs just tall enough to cover the concrete barrier as florey suggested above. I wonder if this would even be necessary being that the line of trees along my driveway would also make the retention pond area look less a part of my property. As someone mentioned above earlier, the way it is set up now is as if I stake claim to it, but if I can divide this line of sight somehow then that would be good.

Oh and I am leaning toward thuja green giants along the driveway and I am wondering if I should stagger them like so:


Of course that would be more expensive (I have a really long driveway) but would provide more immediate screening.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 9:01PM
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Well this is good stuff I like to see good ideas. but as a pro I have to say the effect are not so instride with the affects of certain plants. Most contractors are not landscapers they build house and have landscape crew come in and spend $1000 dollars Max on every yard. Once the home owners are in its up to them. Just rule of thumb here in the south.
These pics are great and I see the sore in everyones eyes.
Most Water Sewer Athorities should be maintaining the pond. Mostly there responsible for them which they hand them over to a company and contract runs out and boom no more work done.
Now down to the yard.
First Pic You need another leland on the corner least 6 ' from corner coming back towards the road.
Second pic Need a Nice full size Gardenia with flower bed below in small half round bed. Flowers in first quarter toward the front drive and then some hosta's on the back side just to show some green.
Third Pic Now for the lonely tree. Need 3-4 azeleas to go around the tree to help fill in the bed fresh pine straw on the rest. Depending on size of azelea should determine how many you would need.
Now for the rest....
Need a nice7-10 gallon Laurel preferably the ones that bloom the nice purlpe flowers once a year. I would plant about three feet off the wall and about 2 feet apart in a nice straight line or even a staggered line in front of retaining wall. The Two trees to the left I would stick a nice Magnolia in between maybe just a little front to make sure its out of the formal line of the other two forming a triangle shape. Bigger size tree the closer to the road you need to come.
Of course fix the fence if the fence is not locked clear out the first ten feet inside the fence or as much as possible before it drops off but first ten feet.
As a pro with working on just these pics and comments from other I think this can have potential. Just remember to keep some color or flowers near the driveway always good to see. Last rule of thumb: Flowers in the yard are better than flowers in jar. Last longer and keeps ya'll stronger.
Keeping the world beautiful one yard at a time.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 1:55AM
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Chris, You really create great word pictures.
Frankie, Love the idea of the short, ornamental trees, blurring the top of the fence.

Atlcharm, Be a little careful with something that has 'giant' in its name. How thirsty and aggressive are those roots? Some fast growing trees, come for your pipes!
Thujas are awful to brush hard against. They have 'thujol' which is a strong allergen, that you have to wash 3 times, before it'll come out of your clothes [OK, I pruned, in close]. Stuff won't grow well near them either, thujol again.
You like foursquare and powerful, but it could end up looking like they are crowding, even advancing on, the house.
Get some design advice from someone who's taste you trust and that you have confidence in, there. You need to be able to talk this out.
That area is a very tricky one, although it looks deceptively simple.
Have fun though...

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 11:01PM
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I would not put an evergreen row of Green Giants parallel with the driveway. It won't have the right affect. You don't want the house to look like it is up against a vacant lot.

The house would look best if it claimed the frontage of the retention pond near the street without drawing attention to the mess.

It is really pretty simple. Forget about the retention pond and ask yourself how to create a space that will stand on its own between the street and the fence. The raised crown of deciduous trees go a long way in making such a space. If you could plant a double row of Thuja, you can probably handle a single row of shade trees along the road and turning up along the side of the drive in a wide arc, maybe 15' from the pavement of the road and closer to your drive. That alone would be a very good start.

You could reinforce that with a planting bed just a little bit behind the trees. I think it would work with more strength if the trees were in the lawn in front rather than sharing the bed of the plantings behind them. Your mind set should be that you are making a space in front rather than worrying about screening the fence.

You see this all of the time in peoples nice back yards with not so nice abutting properties, but you don't notice it because it is very effective. Most properties are not fully screening the neighbors, but you hardly ever notice. Pay attention and you'll see these little things that make a big difference.

Not many homes have 12' evergreen hedges screening out the neighbors, but that is the first thing people think they need when they are faced with a new situation that has a screaming negative view.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 7:17AM
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