Fences – a perennial design problem. Practically (and perhaps even legally) speaking, you can’t do without them. A practical necessity for privacy and, if your home has a pool, like the SoMoToHo, a legal requirement. (Most swimming pool ordinances even prohibit certain materials like chain link.) But as the cross vine-covered one above shows, a fence can also be an opportunity for natural enhancement.
The SoMoToHo doesn’t have an abundance of green space. There is a nice little side yard but the pool occupies what might have been the back yard. (Long time readers know how I feel about that.) Here is what the back looked like when we moved in:The fence is obviously old. Not exactly falling down, but well-weathered and the replacement slats shine like beacons. More disconcerting given the limited space, however, were the dwarf yaupons (nice plants, in and of themselves – they could have been the ubiquitous Japanese boxwoods or as Debra calls them “cat-pee bushes” – which would have been a landscaping emergency). Rather than naturally enhancing the area, the yaupons emphasize the spatial restrictions and, since they’re so short, do nothing to improve the appearance of the fence, itself. We yanked them out but having nothing natural there was pretty bleak.
Then we got snow, which exacerbated the effect. We like cross vines, like the first picture, above, quite a bit and figured that, with a large area like this one, they could be pretty impressive. We began to set some out. A couple of things became apparent pretty quickly. First, we were going to need several starter plants or they were going to look puny and pathetic. Second, the fence, itself, still looked bad.
We were in the process of getting bids to replace the fence, entirely, when our clever, energetic, and entrepreneurial pool-service guy, Rickey, said “I can make your fence look brand new for a lot less money than that.” So we took him up on it.
He power-washed the entire fence which, in and of itself, made an enormous difference. There was some deliberation about the stain color. To be honest, Debra was certain what she wanted; I was the one who was somewhat skeptical. As usual, however, her instinct was right on target and the translucent charcoal worked beautifully.I decided that the vines needed a structure to encourage spread – kind of like a trellis, but didn’t want to buy and install trellises as large as they would need to be to cover the area. Since the fence was nearly black, I figured that black wire would pretty much disappear. I got a 50′ roll of black wire mesh and some 1x2s, screwed the 1x2s directly into the fence, stained them to match, and stretched the mesh across them, attaching it with deck screws. This gave the vines something to grab that didn’t call attention to itself. They’ve taken to it pretty well, I’d say. Even the jessamine is happy with the arrangement. See how the vines soften the view from the inside?