How to disguise tall fence
Lou Thompson
April 10, 2013
The fence is about 9 feet tall - need to plant border that is not too wide, and is child friendly! Help please!
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Nick Dellos Creations
This is really a question for an expert landscaper. One thing I know that will make a difference is your zone. In southern California, I have seen many people use ficus. They are versatile to shape and get by on low water, but I don't think they go very far outside of a warm zone.

If you cover up the bottm portion of your fence it may be enough, but that is up to you. Attaching a few rails/cables and growing a vine type plant would be nice, if you are OK with waiting for it to creep up.
1 Like    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 12:41PM
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jannetargan
Bamboo has been a great solution for us. It grows fast, and you you can keep it cut back close to the fence. At first I questioned our landscaper when he suggested it, as we have an Engish garden, but the greenery of the bamboo is very light and wispy. We have a little garden in front of it.
3 Likes    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 1:22PM
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leelee
You will not want to plant bamboo without proper preparation. You have to contain the roots or it will spread under the fence and all over your yard. A good landscaper will dig a ditch and make a trough out of concrete. You might want something less invasive. Holly trees, magnolia or other evergreen trees spaced and staggered (not planted in a hard, straight line) will form a screen with less effort than installing a ditch. You could do espalier trees or just ivy will cover quicky.
3 Likes    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 1:39PM
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Nick Dellos Creations
I think this is a double discussion...
    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 4:16PM
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stefaniam01
I would paint the fence in a dark grey and then the plants will be the feature and the fence will hide in the background. If you want to change the look of the fence completely you can attach 'blue board' and then paint it. Not sure what this material is called in America - we call it blue board in Australia and purchase it from the hardware store. We are looking at utilise this around our fence.
1 Like    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 4:33PM
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judianna20
Is this your fence or your neighbor's? Courtesy dictates that your neighbor gives you the best side. If it is your fence, remove it and replace with a more attractive one. If it is your neighbors, install your own. I don't think planting anything will accomplish what you want,,,,at least in your lifetime.

2 Likes    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 4:39PM
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nasmijati
Perhaps you and the children could plant pole beans and sunflowers this year?
1 Like    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 5:25PM
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nasmijati
This post is a duplicate, with a different thread discussion than this one. Perhaps read both?
    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 5:28PM
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mccdisco
The top part of the fence looks ok. If you're into gardening, how about a raised garden...almost like the above picture,,,,
    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 5:43PM
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923bross
verticle gardening will allow more room for the kids to play and cover the fence with endless posibilities of color and texture. Many ideas for this right here at the houzz site.
1 Like    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 7:44PM
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Staged for Perfection
Plant clumping bamboo. No need to worry about spreading.
2 Likes    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 8:31PM
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alenkw22
Ivy is fast growing and inexpensive + it survives winter months and provides great color in fall
    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 9:24PM
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valerie5pluscat
Two plants i really like for covering up a fence and have used: The first is photinia. It grows fast, nice flowers and red leaves on new growth. It grows tall and perfect for blocking a fence and neighbor's house. You can keep it trimmed to a more narrow width (2-3 feet width). Keep it trimmed as it's growing so it grows in full, not leggy. Quite durable if a child throws a ball at it, won't kill the plant! A second option would be (depending upon your zone) is an evergreen type climbing vine. I like Pink Jasmine as it grows quickly and will take off. You will need to adhere it to a lattice. Lattice would be securely attached to your fence. This plant grows long trendils and will cling to most anything. It grows very full, planting several along your fence will block it. It has most fragrant flowers right about now. Small white/pink flowers will bloom for over 1 month in spring time. Again - check your zone first.
    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 9:35PM
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Sharon
Perfect spot for a vertical garden.

3 Likes    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 9:36PM
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Erin Lau Landscape Design- Seattle
Definitely paint it a darker color first as others have suggested. Next however, please avoid the costly mistake of planting ivy or bamboo. Ivy is just a definite no-no in almost any zone. Bamboo- even if its clumping- is always best with a root barrier thats at least 30" below grade. Better to opt for a slender or prunable shrub, possibly Photinia as valerie suggested or a taxus, nandina or other depending on your zone and the microclimate. Good luck!
3 Likes    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 11:38PM
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Lou Thompson
Thank you - and yes it is a double post sorry. Due to my computer inabilities!! It is our fence - but the neighbours installed as they had to take it down during their rebuild - we are uk south coast.
    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 11:54PM
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Stamps Design Services
You need to talk to someone in the landscaping business. You need something that will grow well in your area, is sturdy and make sure it is not toxic. I have four children and they have all sampled the plants in (and around) the house at one time or another...lol!
1 Like    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 12:02AM
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ASVInteriors
Hi Lou
What plants would you like to see there - we are really just stabbing in the dark? Also, go to your local nursery and I bet they will have tons of suggestions. I know the bamboo debate rages (and I am always cautious in suggesting it but if you do go that route, happy to give you tips (I have over 300 plants and 25 species in my garden)...
2 Likes    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 12:10AM
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Patricia Pearson
Cover the fence with pretty trellis, then plant climbing roses , wysteria, bouganvilia, etc, depending on the climate.
1 Like    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 1:00AM
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leelee
There is no debate about bamboo. It's beautiful and invasive. It may take a couple of years but by the third year it's roots will have traveled underground and you'll have sprouts 10 feet away in all directions. I planted a very short 15" variety in my garden and I had to dig down 2 feet in a 5 foot radius to get rid of it. Too bad, I loved the look of it.
3 Likes    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 5:22AM
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decoenthusiaste
Properly contained/controlled bamboo can be nice.

1 Like    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 5:31AM
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wtf57
Clematis vines are one of the most-loved perennial vines and are quite the climbers! Clematis plants have vibrant colors and varying bloom times, can help add new life to your outdoor space and look beautiful when trained to climb a lamppost, trellis, fence, or other architectural structure.
    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 7:07AM
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Becky
Ficus is a great idea but keep an eye out for white flies and spray for them at the first sign! They excrete a sticky sap and you will walk on it and wonder if you stepped in gum or juice. Nope! White fly business on the patio... Keep the ficus treated and they should do really well. The other thing we use in S. Florida is podocarpus~see pic. It gets tall fast and grows full. It's a great hedge!! It's enemy is aphids but ALL plants have enemy bugs. Just keep an eye out. I have both plants and will upload pics. Vines wont give nearly the same coverage.
1 Like    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 7:41AM
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debnsync
I had landscaper help create a natural area(needed topsoil, mulch, fairly large hole digging and trees) along our high fence but I maintained it afterward; we planted evergreen trees that would not exceed height of fence and in between I had the chance to plant flowering things like I loved,even had some butterfly bushes, you can add Nandina, as well as different hollies depending on height you want; some of ours' at our farm have gotten up there, like 6' from little shrubs! Also listen to the experts for your zone for sure. It can really be simple, but even evergreens every 6-9 feet add up in $$ so depends on how much you want to put into it. ANYTHING will make a huge difference; it framed my garden in a really nice way
    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 8:25AM
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Becky
Pic is 4ft tall podocarpus with 10 ft tall ficus behind it
    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 8:34AM
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debnsync
p. s. you are in a state and area that seems really year-round blooming place, too! Get the symmetry still with the evergreens, wish I could recall the name they were perfect, ask and look; also the vines and things are nice but think of total picture after putting in the mainstays.. Has anyone addressed the issue of also staining or painting your fence one total color/finish for the look to be more uniform? Best!
    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 8:35AM
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Becky
Now that I see you are in the UK, this website is in the UK with recommended plants for hedges: http://www.hedgesdirect.co.uk/acatalog/Right_Species.html
1 Like    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 8:45AM
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Rare Bird
Im in southern ireland and think the climate would be kinda similar. I see lots of comments about bamboo being invasive and am puzzled. Maybe here the climate stops it from being invasive but I planted a lovely evergreen bamboo which looks like a small tree and so far I ve no problems Tiz 6 foot tall and hides my fence. I d create a flower bed all the way down ur garden with a few small garden trees spaced out and make into an 8 design with grass in centre surrounded by planting at sides Im creating a garden at the moment in that style for my sister Of course paint the fence first Twill cost quiet a lot but an outlay of £500 pounds would make a big difference to ur garden..................Check outdoor pictures on this site for fantastic ideas thats what Im doing good luck ;)
2 Likes    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 9:33AM
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Belman Living LLC
Vines like the evergreen clematis and Aristolochia (dutchman's pipe) can cover the fence. If you don't want to hide your fence entirely, few hedges and trees can do the job.
1 Like    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 9:38AM
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Lou Thompson
Rare bird -sounds great. What's an eight design??
    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 10:18AM
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leelee
Rare Bird I love your accent! Here's a picture of the Dutchman's pipe flower.
    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 11:37AM
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Sigrid
For kids, I'd do edibles. In Ireland, you can probably espalier a fig (how I envy you) . Certainly apricots or cherries. Put currents underneath. Hops will cover your fence in a few years. I grew mine from seed. I took ages to germinate, the first year it was pretty pathetic, but the second it was getting a good start on covering my ugly fence. You can probably do Kiwi (or another edible Actinidia). They're bi-gendered, so you need a male and a female, but pretty. Or a passionfruit variety.

My kids loved blackberries, despite the thorns. They never complained and were careful pickers. Ditto raspberries, but you can get thornless varieties.

Invasives vary according to location. Lythrum (called Purple Loosestrife in America) is a native plant in Russia and it does self-seed some; you can see a few purple flowers in damp meadows. I've had some in my garden for years and it's not invasive, by any means. In Maine, it's a noxious weed; the roadsides practically turn purple in the summer.

Ivies vary. Not all are invasive.
1 Like    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 12:30PM
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ASVInteriors
Sorry leelee - I have to correct you on your statement about bamboo - even though I do recommend caution for novices -
bamboo is only invasive if you don't look after/plant it properly. I have dealt with bamboo for coming up to 10 years and no problems.
1 Like    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 11:47AM
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Cozy Casita
So much bad press for poor Bamboo ! Basically, there are two sorts of root systems amongst the many beautiful varieties of Bamboo, 'clumping' and 'running'; A running root system will do as implied .... run ! .. that's the type that will pop up new growth yards from where it was planted ! Clumping Bamboo has a totally different habit and will stay contained and confined to its maximum 'spread' (which is always specified by specialist growers ... and can easily be researched online.) Like ASV, I'm a huge fan of this fantastically versatile plant, many of which are hardy, which comes in so many varieties of color form and growing habit that you could use different types of this one plant alone, along your fence, and never get the scary look of the 'invasive' bamboo that springs to most people's minds !
1 Like    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 1:08PM
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shelleyuk
If you're in the UK that is unlikely to be your fence since we keep the nice side for ourselves over here!

I would cover with willow panels and then plant laurel. It grows fairly fast and is evergreen with little white flowers. The 1930s vibe it gives is also fashionable at the moment.

I planted a hedge using bare root plants from hedgesdirect last year. I made a mistake in planting native hedging which is deciduous and just doesn't give enough coverage 8 months of the year. Photintia red robin is also lovely with its red tips but is quite a bit more expensive.
    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 1:25PM
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shelleyuk
Photinia not photintia!
    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 1:26PM
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leelee
If you'll read my first comment it was about correctly planting bamboo. This is a direct comment from an expert: "Clumping bamboos are mountain bamboos, so they do not do well in full sun, because they are an understory plant in their native environment," says Susanne Lucas, past president of the American Bamboo Society. So good luck with your bamboo if you don't contain the roots properly.
1 Like    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 1:29PM
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Cozy Casita
Not true, leelee, Some years back, my, full sun, California garden was full of Bamboo plants ... none of which gave me any trouble. I got all my plants out of Oregon.
http://www.bamboogarden.com

Also, a preference for some shade does not imply that the plant will invade the garden. the roots of clumping bamboos have a habit of ... clumping ... as opposed to spreading. They contain themselves. And what you said was : "There is no debate about bamboo. It is beautiful and invasive" ... That's the comment we're not in agreement about.
1 Like    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 2:43PM
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debnsync
have black bamboo in pots; thriving in partial shade/sun
2 Likes    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 2:45PM
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Rare Bird
it means that grass is like a coloured in 8 with flowerbeds all around the outside rectangle It makes for soft edges and with extended into the centre.Dont know about fig growing here cos we dont have enough warmth here I love going to Europe and seeing orange lemon and olive trees lol.................Gardening here is not a great hobby cos even in summer we seldom get to sit out. I love looking at all the patio area in america Ye are so lucky to be able to live outside :(
    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 3:00PM
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debnsync
and we do have podocarpus at beach, almost forgot, it forms its own type of fence, and can be controlled with clipping and feeding properly. It does grow quickly and IS expensive, so be prepared and price it out first; but we needed the coverage in that house where symmetry was important, and it was used a lot in our beach-town neighborhood. Then for simplicity and symmetry, again, we only planted iris all along in front of it for some color! The affect is simple and beautiful. Pod. is also more uniform in nature, so more formal a bit, not like the blowing evergreens that your soil and sun might allow, so go with your heart. Photo shows new podos around side of house; inside courtyard again they follow through and really began to cover first year! Black bamboo in newbie stage, in green pots for diffused privacy; in partial shade.
1 Like    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 3:08PM
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leelee
Cozy, I didn't make that up. There's a reason bamboo has a reputation for being invasive and it didn't start with me. The direct quote about CLUMPING SHADE bamboo is from the past pres. of the Bamboo Society. You may want to contact her and tell her how wrong she it. Also, Wikipedia would need to change what they say about it: The two general patterns for the growth of bamboo are "clumping" (sympodial) and "running" (monopodial). Clumping bamboo species tend to spread slowly, as the growth pattern of the rhizomes is to simply expand the root mass gradually, similar to ornamental grasses. "Running" bamboos, on the other hand, need to be taken care of in cultivation because of their potential for aggressive behavior. They spread mainly through their roots and/or rhizomes, which can spread widely underground and send up new culms to break through the surface. Running bamboo species are highly variable in their tendency to spread; this is related to both the species and the soil and climate conditions. Some can send out runners of several metres a year, while others can stay in the same general area for long periods. If neglected, over time they can cause problems by moving into adjacent areas. Bamboo growth is also controlled by surrounding the plant or grove with a physical barrier. Highlighted and copied directly from Wikipedia.
    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 3:31PM
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Cozy Casita
leelee, I don't disagree with anything in the quote from the past Pres of the Bamboo Society ... who says that clumping shade bamboo prefers shade. ... I also prefer shade, but have yet to die from living in the California sunshine !

As for your Wiki copy and paste .... Yes, it says precisely what I just wrote ; describes the growth patterns and habits of 'clumping' and 'running' bamboos and notes that clumping bamboos "tend to spread slowly" ... (because their growth involves the root clump getting 'fatter'.)
But : " 'running' bamboos, on the other hand .... have the potential for aggressive behavior."

There is, as I wrote in my very first response, a distinct difference between the two types. ... I'm not sure where you see a problem.
    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 4:11PM
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judianna20
For crying out loud…this is not a debate about bamboo. Let's give Lou a remedy for the problem.

Lou, if the fence is yours, replace it. By the time you pay for all the landscaping to mask it, you could have a new fence.

Then you have a lovely backdrop to do what you want.

2 Likes    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 4:24PM
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Cozy Casita
Haha , judyg, :-) whilst I totally agree, I think I'd rather exchange a few ideas re the virtues of bamboo and other plants than offer up : "I don't think planting anything will accomplish what you want .. at least not in your lifetime." Also, I would respectfully suggest, that replacing the fence ... and still needing to landscape .. might not make the most sense, economically speaking ! :-)

@Lou, ... Rambling roses, or bush roses that flower continuously (try Betty Boop) Lavender, Butterfly bushes, Sunflowers (kids love them) a few small confers, some tall ornamental grasses and plenty of annuals for cutting (the kids can choose .. and do the watering and flower gathering !) Ivy and Clematis .. if you're willing to trim back or know your neighbour won't mind them spilling over the fence ! Look for fast growers and check with the local Garden Centre for what they'd recommend for your neighbourhood. ... And, I just remembered, last house I lived in in England, I used a fabulous rose called 'Ballerina' .. it was really pretty, smothered in little flowers and, as I remember, grew relatively quickly to six feet, at least. (I was in Evesham, in the Midlands, not sure how your climate compares.)
    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 5:07PM
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judianna20
That fence needs replacing. It is in pieces and is in no way a backdrop for any plantings. No sense spending good money after bad. Fix the problem and then plant.

Even this galvanized fence with guara is an improvement.

1 Like    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 5:18PM
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Cozy Casita
Here's a lovely link for (amongst other things) climbing plants that are totally hardy. The nursery is based in Cornwall. Lots of lovely pics, great info and ideas.
http://www.burncoose.co.uk/site/category.cfm?cat_id=20

Best of luck !
    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 5:20PM
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Brooke Strong
I loved bamboo too and used it for disguising a fence, but you MUST do your research as it can spread like wildfire and completely engulf your yard! What is your style and what's the style of your home? What climate are you in?
You could always paint part of it and make it really artistic with metal work, mirrors and plantings...or you can go traditional, cover it with BIG plywood boards nailed to the sides, paint it & then plant a row of small vertical trees.
1 Like    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 5:37PM
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Cozy Casita
Hi Brooke, Great idea ! Yes, mirrors used in the garden can be a lot of fun ... Lou's kids would love that too, I don't doubt ! :-)
    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 5:44PM
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Cozy Casita
A link for Brooke's garden mirrors idea http://www.primrose.co.uk/garden-mirrors-c-83.html
    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 5:48PM
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olldroo
Can we get back to the actual fence here? I only know Australian law when it comes to dividing fences so I can only raise the following for consideration...... Is that fence legal - fences over 6 ft tall are not legal here without special permission, rarely given. A dividing fence should be built on the actual boundary of both properties, both owners contibute to the cost and maintenance and it is joint property - one party cannot remove it or alter it or in fact do anything to it, without the permission of the other. From the supports, it appears this is placed on the boundary, so legally belongs to both owners, regardless of who paid for it.

That fence should be no more than 6 ft the full length. It appears the neighbours have built a retaining wall for some reason, so if the palings were removed and placed on your side of the posts then you have a nice 6 ft fence all the way down your boundary which will then cover the ugly retaining wall. When nothing seems to be growing down that end of the garden, obviously light and sun are and issue too - probably caused by the height of the fence.

If privacy where the retaining wall is, is an issue, then you can plant some shrubs in that area. Sasanqua camellias make a lovely hedge. I have also seen people add lattice to the top of the fence where privacy is needed which doesn't look as heavy, but again I don't know the legality of this.

Consider also bringing the children's play equipment to that area, add a softfall ground cover to landscape neatly and not have to worry about the lawn not growing.
2 Likes    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 7:00PM
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kimdee24
How about a row of Swedish Aspen? I don't know if they're appropriate for your area, but they grow beautifully in my zone 3 climate. They are GREAT for screening out unwanted sights, and they grow very quickly. Also, the sound of their leaves rustling in the wind is amazing.

And, the fence could be painted on your side, and it would be a bit more attractive.
1 Like    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 7:18PM
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Cozy Casita
And here's a link with tips re making your planting 'Kid Friendly' and fun .. a few plants to avoid and some easy growing stuff for the mini-gardeners to 'manage' themselves (with a bit of help !)
http://www.garden.org/howtos/index.php?q=show&id=1309
    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 7:58PM
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Lou Thompson
Thank you all for so many replies - am really grateful for all your advice. The fence is very high, and is technically ours - but next door have extended and replaced the fence for us. It is so high by mutual agreement to protect our privacy (new build next door - planning already agreed when we bought our house). We have lots to consider - but generally now feel quite inspired to get going! Will post some pics when we've made some progress. Thank you!
1 Like    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 1:48AM
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shelleyuk
Hedgesdirect were very cost effective Lou, I'd recommend you have a look on their website. If you go for bare root plants you are right at the end of the period for selling plants this way and so you should get good prices.
1 Like    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 2:38AM
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astraea
This may be going in a different direction, but 9' tall is very high for a fence, especially a solid one like that, which isn't a structural need. Around here (NJ), there are zoning codes which limit the high of fencing, because it also affects air circulation & view from neighboring properties.
2 Likes    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 4:40AM
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charleee
You could borrow S. Thomas Kutch's paintball gun and let the kids have a great time painting it :))
3 Likes    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 4:51AM
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S. Thomas Kutch
Bobbi.......you're getting pretty cozy there lending out my paintball gun babe.......I don't lend it to just anybody and of course going overseas I would need to accompany it to make sure it was treated with care and not abused.......and since I require 5 star accommodations, it would be cheaper for the original poster to just replace the fence or hire professional landscapers to come in and do the job for them........of course the kiddies would miss out on all the fun and I'd miss out on a paid vacation, but in this day and age we have to be practical.
3 Likes    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 7:40AM
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S. Thomas Kutch
Or..... they could buy their own dang paint gun for a little over $100 US..........just sayin.
3 Likes    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 7:41AM
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charleee
Here's what we plan to do with our fence, if it helps you. We have a big problem with carpenter bees. Do you know what carpenter bees are? They are SO BIG they shouldn't even be able to fly. So we are going to hang some decorative trellis's on the fence, and on the trelliss's we're going to hang a large assortment of birdhouses. The birds will eat the bees and the fence will look good. And while I know only the female carpenter bee stings, I'm not going to catch one and turn it over to check its apendage to make that determination. I'm only going to run.
1 Like    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 7:45AM
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Cozy Casita
Don't the local authorities still come and sort out problems with Carpenter bees ? .. They did when I last lived in England and had them swarming around the roof area of our old farmhouse. And how much do you love the idea of all the bird poop that will undoubtedly be produced by the multiple tenants of your new bird housing estate ... and run down your wooden fencing ? .. Just a thought ! :-) I'd look for a fence covering plant that Carpenter bees hate .. assuming there is one .. and that birds love ... before hanging the birdhouses. Good luck with it all ! ... Whoops ! Sorry, oldbobbi ! ... just realized that last post was from you and not our 'dilemma' guy ! .... Same questions and tips apply though ! :-)
1 Like    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 1:20PM
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