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Alley way fence cover plant ideas and plant ID

matt_fendermatt_fender Posts: 169
I have finally got around to cleaning up one of our alley ways, with a view to using this for occasional access and storage (we have another alley for usual access).
There is an existing concrete strip alongside the house wall, which will remain, and a strip of about 45cm width earth. Alley is 8m long. I have now removed most of this earth to a depth of around 5 inches, with the plan being to put membrane/type 1/gravel to create a very low maintenance area. Although I don't want to go too crazy here, it does seem a shame not to grow anything. Sadly (given that I have removed most of it), this soil is about the best I have seen anywhere on our plot (although riddled with bindweed rhizome).

So, with continuing low maintenance in mind, I was hoping for some suggestions. My rough plan is something like; leave 2 or perhaps 3 "squares" in the hardcore/gravel, which I can board off before filling. These would give decent sized planting holes, with a plant in each - so 2 or 3 plants max. Plants should be narrow, because we will store some stuff down here (kayaks, wheelbarrows etc) and will need access. Ideally clinging to fence and perhaps covering the fence, although could come above the fence if would remain narrow, as that would help with privacy through those windows. Lowish maintenance but a couple of prunes a year is fine. The alley actually doesn't do too badly for sun, on a ne/sw (sw at gate end) axis. It even gets some sun in winter:

There is an existing plant that might or might not have been quite nice - see pic below. It was hacked back about 2 years ago when scaffolders needed access there but evidently not (quite) killed. Worth saving? I'd love to know what it is, but I'm afraid there isn't much to go on. Obviously quite big at once stage:



  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 20,939

    Clematis, pruning group 3 would be nice on the fence, easy as you just chop it down once a year in early spring and it flowers on the new wood in summer. Honeysuckle is pretty easy too and smells lovely.

    Do try to get rid of the bindweed first though.

    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • RubytooRubytoo Posts: 1,308
    edited May 2019
    Busy-Lizzie said:

    Do try to get rid of the bindweed first though.

    Sorry that made me laugh, just the simple line and tone.
    It'll play havoc with the kayaks if you don't.... :D

    Can't quite make the photo big enough for detail. Try looking at Spirea. It sort of reminds me of it the way the leaf clusters are on that thin long stem  We have a white one I can never remember the variety. It has more rounded leaves that some types.
    Edit again ! Try looking at S. vanhouettei
  • daffygardenerdaffygardener Posts: 109
    A jasmine would go quite well, fragrant and contrast with the clematis and honeysuckle others have suggested. Avoid anything with thorns like a climbing rose, as you are bound to catch an elbow when stowing the kayaks, but it would enhance security as the fence is lowish. 
  • matt_fendermatt_fender Posts: 169
    edited May 2019
    Thanks guys. I think you are all on the money, and some shade tolerant climbers is the way to go - although the front of the alley doesn't do too badly for sun. I thought about a climbing rose as well, but the thorns put me off - perhaps if there is a somewhat shade tolerant, thornless one that might be an idea, with clematis running through. Don't want to get too fancy as it is a rarely used alley, but you can see down it from our patio so it might as well look presentable. I think the plan is to create 2-4 discrete planting holes amongst the membrane/hardcore/gravel with a single, mulched climber in each. That should keep weeding to a minimum with just a bit of annual pruning.
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