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Please help me make my fence less harsh

Hello there, thank you for reading my post.

I'm a beginner gardener just starting out on my journey, doing as much research as I can.

I have a fairly long narrow garden, typical of a Victorian terrace. On one side we are having deep borders but on the other we have a long straight path which butts up to the fence. We are trying to create a relaxed cottage garden so this long straight edge which no planting opportunities doesn't really go with the theme.

Does anyone have any suggestions of plants with some height or climbers that would work on a basic wooden fence which can be grown in a container that would also fit with a cottage garden? I'm not asking for much am I(?)! 

Thank you for reading and sorry if I'm asking a silly question.



  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 SomersetPosts: 10,487
    Hello Hannah, welcome to the forum.  You could argue that a long straight path is the traditional look and therefore shouldn't be disguised. You will also find it jolly useful.
    You can plant most things in pots - the bigger the better, but were you planning to put them on the path? Don't forget that they will need a lot of watering in the summer.
    What you could do, is to lay paving stones at intervals at right angles to the path and then plant in front of the sticky out stones. This would soften the overall look. Another idea would be to cover the path (concrete I assume) with bark mulch but you would have to edge this with a wooden board along the whole length to stop it spreading sideways. 
  • Hi Lizzie,

    Thank you for your reply. Yes I was planning to put them on the path - it's actually Cotswold stone chippings. I'm planning to put a bench half way down - with some pots around it. I know that seems silly as it's a path but it's not supposed to be completely functional (hard to explain!) and you would still be able to use it.

    The paving stones idea is interesting, thank you.
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 SomersetPosts: 10,487
    Cotswold stone chippings are much nicer than concrete - which is the path we inherited.
    I re-read your post and realized you wanted suggestions for plants for your fence not the path, so sorry about that. You could try clematis, evergreen trachelospermum, variegated ivy, or a climbing rose - all depending which way the fence faces.
  • Ah no, we inherited the same - it was awful and cracked all over. We replaced in last year before I realised the importance of paths but I think it will look good with a bit of colour, it's very stark at the mo. Thank you very much for your plant suggestions, the fence faces East. 
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,545
    Rather than pots, can you divert the path around planting holes?   Climbers of any sort will do better in the ground than in pots where they will have limited resources of food and water and also be susceptible to extremes of heat and cold which roots don't like. 

    If it's to be a long term garden you may want to think about designing it to look less long and narrow and not to have everything visible from the house so you have some surprises further down.    If the path is made from chippings it could perhaps be diverted to track across the garden in a series of diagonals or curves which would create beds and interest.  Adding obelisks, trellis panels or arches would help too.

    As for the fence, you can stretch tensioned wires along it in horizontal intervals of 12 to 18"/30 to 45cm from the base to the top and these will then support clematis, honeysuckle, climbing and/or rambling roses or espaliered fruit trees.   The choice will depend on soil type and aspect.  Do you know what soil you have and which way the fence faces?
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 7,658
    Can you scrape back some of the chippings and see what's underneath?  If it's just soil, or a membrane/plastic sheet with soil underneath, it might be better to make some planting pockets for climbers rather than using pots - that will give them more root space and will need less watering once they're established.
  • Rose121Rose121 Posts: 132
    We have a 5ish foot fence which I'm doing this with (wires in a diamond pattern for climbers to run along - link to examples below) - really nice way to turn it into a feature. I'm using jasmine and honeysuckle, but adding annual climbers (morning glories) to the mix while the jasmine in particular gets established.

  • Thanks so much everyone.
  • Hello! So since I posted this we have done lots of work on the garden  - I know it still needs a lot but it's starting to resemble a garden again which is good!! I'm revisiting the thread again and re-reading all of the comments. I'm now thinking of putting narrow but tallish planters along the fence line with some tall and sun loving plants (it's the sunniest part of the garden). I'm worried that could look too cluttered though? I know I made a mistake with the path but I have to roll with it now.

    Thanks for reading! 

  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 SomersetPosts: 10,487
    edited April 2019
    That is looking so much better - well done.  Are you planning the planters along the path side fence or the other side in the border? Just be aware that if you are thinking of getting the tall narrow metal planters, they can get extremely hot in sunshine and cook any roots (which clematis in particular won't like). Some people try to counteract this by lining the pots with plastic but I'm not convinced this works well. Terracotta pots might be better or the faux 'lead' planters.
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