Don’t Sit on the Fence….or the Wall

Although most people wait until spring to replace or maintain their trellis, walls or fences, you could give it some thought over the winter.

First of all, have you considered your purpose in creating a boundary there? Is it to block out the neighbours, keep in children, provide protection against the wind or hide an ugly view?

Robert Frost's poem Mending Wall highlights the fact that the physical and practical aspects of a wall or fence are not the only consideration.  It contains the famous line, "good fences make good neighbours." This phrase is commonly used to suggest that well-maintained fences promote neighbourly harmony ….. is this true for you?

It helps to consider whether your existing boundary is right for your garden, and whether you need to do any additional planting to create a screen there?

If you opt for the full screening that a wooden fence provides, you can, in time, cover it with plants such as evergreens and climbers.

Climbing and rambling roses make an attractive screen that can be trained as they grow.  Spreading trees or shrubs can help to hide any less than aesthetically-pleasing divides.

There are a variety of self-clinging climbers that you can train to cover your wall, such as ivies and climbing hydrangeas that don’t even need trellis.  But beware – if you plant these against a wooden fence they will grow into the gaps in the fence boards and hold damp which may rot your fence.

Whilst a fence can create a welcome boundary, if you screen it too well with plants it can leave you with a dark and confined garden.  Getting the balance right ensures that you maximize on light and have a feeling of spaciousness.

Trellis is more visible than wire or a fence, but can be hidden with good growing plants or painted to tone in.  One tip to consider if you do plan to use trellis is to make sure it is big enough for the plant climbing up it, as climbers tend to be fairly large wide-ranging plants.

And walls?  Well, if you opt to build a new wall, you need to think about materials like bricks, stones, concrete blocks and stone blocks.  Also, bear in mind how permanent it is compared to a fence.    Foundations should be a third of its height and the width three times wider than the wall.  Get expert advice up front, especially if you’re building a load-bearing wall.  If you already have a wall, examine it regularly to check that it’s safe, especially if young children play on either side of it.

So, which side of the fence are you sitting on now?