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Landscaping Along A Fence

landscaping along a fence 1
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Landscaping Along A Fence

Many years ago my neighbor put up a 6 ft. fence on the property line between our houses. At first I wasn’t sure how to feel about it. I tried not to be offended but I have to admit that I was…just a little. I soon got over it though when I realized it was the perfect spot for a fence row garden. I wasn’t sure how to plant a fence row garden but I was determined to find out. I knew when I started planning that I wanted blooms. Lots and lots of blooms. I also knew I was going with all perennials. I wanted to plant something once and see it come up year after year. Well…it’s been a process for sure. Honestly, I’ve had more things die than have lived. But with each passing of some poor plant, I learned something. I either watered too much or not enough. It got too much sun or too much shade. Over the years, after quite a bit of trial and error, I now have what can be called a real garden. The plants I chose are mainly tried and true all American favorites. Black-eyed Susans, Lavender, Peonies, Daisies, Phlox, Coreopsis, Sedum and of course the queen of all blooming plants, Hydrangeas. I began by marking a curvy line several feet from the fence and laying field stones as a border. This took a couple of years. I got the first load of field stones from a co-worker for free. It wasn’t quite enough so the next summer I actually bought some stones to finish the border. I vividly remember thinking to myself that I was surely nuts to be paying money for rocks. Nuts or not, I had my border finished! Next was a few loads of good soil and some compost. The first plants went in at the end of the summer in 1999. Before I planted my garden, I wasn’t a big fan of the shed. After the first few years, when the plants started maturing, the shed actually began to make sense. Instead of an eye-sore, it became part of the garden. One mistake I made at the beginning was neglecting to plant any climbing, flowering vines. I’m fairly certain that back then I didn’t even know what climatis was! I’ve added bittersweet and a purple clematis and both have done pretty well. The two plants I can depend on to bloom year after year, no matter what, are this coreopsis and the black-eyed Susans. From 3 small plants I now have a bed of coreopsis that measures at least 4 ft. x 6 ft. The black-eyed Susans had their best year ever last summer. I’m certain it was a result of laying soaker hose through out the garden before I mulched. Amazing what a little water can do! I do struggle, year after year, with lack of blooms on the hydrangeas. I’ve tried various things. Cutting them back, not cutting them back, bloom booster in March, Miracle Gro in May, and the list goes on. This year I’ve tried something completely new…and maybe a little crazy. I’ve saved coffee grounds and laid them at the base of all my hydrangeas. Every spring I think to myself “This is the year.” This spring is no different. I am waiting with baited breath to see what happens. (Update March 2014: the coffee grounds didn’t make a bit of difference. I know they have worked for some…but not for me!) I follow the same philosophy in my garden as I do when I decorate my home. If I like something, I make it work. I don’t want a plant in my garden that I don’t absolutely love. I’m not big on pruning so I have nothing that needs cut back regularly. The soaker hose made life much easier by eliminating the chore of daily watering. Standing out there with a hose is just not my idea of fun! Almost 15 years of toil and sweat has produced a little fence row garden I am proud of. I know the day will come when I have to leave this house. Of all the things I love about living here, my back yard and fence row garden are by far what I love the most. I hope the next owner will appreciate them and love them like I do.
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Landscaping Along A Fence

A fence offers privacy in your backyard as well as a barrier to keep pets or kids in while ensuring unwanted guests — human or otherwise — remain on the other side. Fences also offer a landscaping opportunity in your yard, allowing you to define the area and bring life and color to the edges of your space. Start your plan by picking a fence to match your landscaping style. White metal or PVC fence panels create a stark line of demarcation that needs to be softened, while unfinished wood tends to blend in more seamlessly.
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Landscaping Along A Fence

But practical considerations are not limited to those pertaining to the vegetation. What kind of fence do you have? One of the pros of vinyl fences is that they're low-maintenance. But if you have a wooden fence, you'll have to paint or stain it periodically. Consequently, space your plant material far enough away from the fence to allow yourself access to your wood fence for maintenance. Remember, too that at maturity, a plant may end up much bigger than it is at the time that you're installing it. Giving yourself enough space will also facilitate such plant-care tasks as pruning shrubs.
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Landscaping Along A Fence

Design the flower beds in curving shapes, winding in and out in front of the fence. Nature doesn’t usually design itself in straight lines, so the curves lend a natural feel to your landscaping. Adding straight lines of flower beds accentuates the stark fence line, making the landscaping feel forced instead of natural.
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Landscaping Along A Fence

3Design the flower beds in curving shapes, winding in and out in front of the fence. Nature doesn’t usually design itself in straight lines, so the curves lend a natural feel to your landscaping. Adding straight lines of flower beds accentuates the stark fence line, making the landscaping feel forced instead of natural.
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Landscaping Along A Fence

In addition to mixing shrubs, ornamental grasses, trees and other plants, you can also mix fences with plantings. A fence can serve as a nice backdrop for plants, even furnishing them with a microclimate. If you contain the planting with landscape timber edging, you introduce yet another element. At our house, we have just such a combination. A stockade-style privacy fence separates our land from the neighbors. We planted shrubs and perennials on our side of the fence. Later, we provided the bed with landscape timber edging for a more finished look.
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Landscaping Along A Fence

Design Dilemma Unwanted Dog Paths — Need Landscaping Solution!!! John HaverlandFebruary 16, 2014 I have two awesome dogs, but they are doing a real number on my yard, and I’m not just talking about a number two!They have run several paths through the yard and along the fence line. There is also a large tree in the yard, so that has further prevented grass from taking root due to the abundant shade.I really need some landscaping/hardscaping suggestions. Whether it’s a hardy grass you know can take a beating, or a creative design idea to hide/incorporate the dog’s paths, I’d really appreciate some creative input to solve my design dilemma. Email Comment20Bookmark5Like
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Landscaping Along A Fence

Unwanted Dog Paths — Need Landscaping Solution!!! John HaverlandFebruary 16, 2014 I have two awesome dogs, but they are doing a real number on my yard, and I’m not just talking about a number two!They have run several paths through the yard and along the fence line. There is also a large tree in the yard, so that has further prevented grass from taking root due to the abundant shade.I really need some landscaping/hardscaping suggestions. Whether it’s a hardy grass you know can take a beating, or a creative design idea to hide/incorporate the dog’s paths, I’d really appreciate some creative input to solve my design dilemma. Email Comment20Bookmark5Like

Before landscaping property lines, always make sure you know precisely where the boundary lies (if unsure, hire a surveyor). While you're at it, research the possible existence of any easements. And if you decide on a fence, check to see if you need a fence permit.
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The article below deals with “fence line landscaping” in the sense that it provides ideas, tips and warnings concerning, specifically, growing plants next to fences. Consult my separate piece on landscaping property lines for more general information on how to treat areas of your yard that run parallel to boundaries.
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For example, if you can tie the fence planting in with rest of your landscape, it will look like an integral part of the yard as a whole, rather than an afterthought. You can accomplish such unity by employing the landscape design principle of repetition: i.e., if you have some maiden grass, for example, in a nearby bed, “repeat” with it along your fence to create the sense that one bed flows into the other.

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