Garden Advice: Hiding unsightly fences

Mr S, North Shields has a large unsightly fence that he would like to hide.

"I recently moved into an easterly facing house with a rear garden measuring 50 x 35 feet.  The previous owner was not a gardener and I am faced with a six foot high bare wooden fence to the three sides of my garden. Where do I start with regards to covering this wooden berlin wall.  I planted clematis & honeysuckle last spring on the south and east facing sides.  However they seem rather inadequate when compared to the acreage of fencing to cover! I am keen on encouraging wildlife - we have built a pond and have a wild flower garden along the east facing fence that covers some of this fence once the plants are fully grown. Any suggestions/pointers would be greatly appreciated."

Bide-A-Wee response (by Mark Robson)

What an opportunity if you think of these vertical surfaces as extra space in your garden. I would be inclined to plant with evergreen material to keep the fence clothed throughout the year. One way to do this is to plant Hedera helix (English Ivy) that comes in a variety of cultivars, larger leaved versions such as `Hiberica`, golden foliage in `Buttercup`, or purple foliage  and `Nigra`.

I would avoid the irregular variegated sort as these tend to look fussy,  those mentioned above will provide in time a wonderful foil to your plants and garden, especially in winter with seed heads of grasses, teasels etc look great with an evergreen back drop.

You will need to plant a lot to get them going quickly, at least one every metre or so. I would manage the ivy by clipping it hard against the fence and in time it will form a sort of `thin hedge`. As you know Ivy is a great site for birds to nest or roost in.

Some other plants that are native - well ish, not strictly to this part of the England - are Clematis flammula wonderful white flowers followed by fluffy seed heads (look great against that Ivy) and the Humulus lupulus `aureus` the golden hop, a herbaceous climber that gives lush green foliage.

Hope this gives you some ideas!


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