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Fence Screen

Just completed building a T&G (solid) fence the length of my driveway. It’s 22m long and varies in height from 1.3m at the entrance to 2m at the garage. It runs N-S and my side of the fence is west facing so gets sun most of the day. It’s a very nice fence but looks rather stark and imposing so would like to have climbing plants the full length. The soil is clay but don’t mind replacing it. Was planning to install horizontal stainless steel wires every 40cm but realised I have no idea what I’m doing, either with the mesh or choosing and growing plants. Any suggestions for a complete novice? Essentially I would like a riot of colour all year round but no idea what I’m doing.


  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,018
    Nothing wrong with clay soil especially if you can open it up by incorporating lots of organic matter from well-rooted manure and/or garden compost.  The more the better and good soil prep before planting will pay dividends.

    In that aspect you can grow rambling roses, climbing roses, clematis at the taller end of the fence but I would go for lower shrub roses and other shrubs or perennials along the lower part.  I would also put the horizontal wires at 30cm intervals using special vine eyes (screws with a loop end) from a good DIY store and soem tensioners at the ends to keep them taught.

    Do you have any particular colour preferences and whereabouts are you?  Exposure to temperature changes, winds and rain will affect what will be happy.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Thanks for quick response. Apologies, meant to say I’m in Edinburgh so when I say we get sun all day, it’s only when it shines, which is not often. No particular preference re colour, but would like a variety rather than just the one. Not sure if you can grow different plant types right next to each other so they almost merge together.
  • RubytooRubytoo Posts: 1,596
    Also might be a good idea to say how "deep" the borders are?
    From the fence to the driveway edge?

    Sorry if I missed that part I have read twice got the height and length..
    Even if training on the fence, you don't want anything that will spread too far if you have a narrow area it will be hitting the car or grabbing you when getting in and out.

    If it is wide enough I would maybe use trellis in front of the fence so you can maintain the actual fence or do not mind removing the plants from time to time.

    There are some relatively (almost) thornless repeat small rambler roses that might fit the bill along with some clematis for colour combinations and longer flowering season.
    As Obelisk says clay is not a problem especially improved and roses really like it.
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,018
    You can grow a clematis with a rose.   Both are hungry, thirsty plants ideally suited to growing in improved clay soils but, as @Rubytoo says, depth of border will have an influence.

    The easiest clematis to manage re pruning regimes are the group 3s.  It's a good idea, I think, to contrast rose flower colour with clematis flower colour and you can be subtle or garish but that's a matter of personal preference so give us a clue and we'll point you at colour options.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Hi, I don’t actually have a drive way, I dug it up several years ago because we are never going to use the garage as a garage (will probably brick up and put in window). My inexperience in these matters is beginning to show so not really sure how much info to provide. So here goes:

    We bought the house (1930 bungalow) 5 years ago and spent the first 3 years or so getting the house up to scratch. Only started on the gardens (we have 4 separate areas) in the last 12 months and have almost completed the first (rear garden with patio waiting for good weather to get final bags of topsoil down for a lawn). The front areas with the driveway are bare earth which I’ve been treating with Kurtail Gold over the last four years to try to eliminate Mares Tail (hoping this year will see it gone). The plan is to remove the driveway entrance gate and effectively shift the entrance by a few feet. So the border at the new fence could be anything up to four feet. 

    As for colour, I prefer pastel to garish. I’m also getting on a bit in years so hoping not to have to maintain the fence in the next 10 years (it will be treated with two coats of Osmo natural oil wood stain). So plants can climb up the fence - how far should the wires be from the fence, I was thinking a few centimetres?
  • Papi JoPapi Jo Posts: 4,216
    Photos would help us understand your situation. 
    You are invited to a virtual visit of my garden (in English or in French).
  • Ok. Here’s a few I took at the early stages of fence building just before Christmas. The fence has 14 posts so you are seeing about 2/3rds of it. As you can see it’s masking a Laurel hedge which belongs to the neighbours (we had to cut it back two feet to find the original post and wire boundary fence). This hedge was one of the reasons for the new fence since it took forever to trim every year - it was 10 feet high but they cut it down to about 5 feet (about 7 at the garage). I will take some more photos tomorrow.
  • Cambridgerose12Cambridgerose12 Posts: 1,134
    edited February 2021
    Well, one thing to think about is that the laurel roots will not be stopped by the fence, so before planting it would be a good idea to dig a trench in front of your fence, and put in a weedproof barrier. Then you can improve the soil in front. Put down around 15cm of organic mulch. If on clay, something like well-rotted manure will work. Dig it well in down a couple of spits.

    Before planting anything, buy some heavy-duty galvanised iron wire (around 2.5mm diameter), and a lot of large vine eyes like these:

    Screw the vine eyes into your fenceposts, spaced about 40cm apart and with the hole vertical, not horizontal. Attach a length of wire at one end of each row, thread it through to the last, tighten up and fasten off. If you have the right size of vine eye there should be several inches of clearance between the fence panel and the wires. You could either put down some boards so you don't compress the soil, or you could do your digging and prep after putting on the wires.

    In terms of planting, Group 3 clematis, as @Obelixx says, are your ideal bet because they can be cut back to about 30-40 cm from ground level in late February--perhaps later where you are--and then you can disentangle the old stems and sort out your roses, tie them in and so on, before growth gets going. You'll need to feed with bone meal in the autumn and some rose food in the spring every year.

    The world's your oyster for planting choices. If you like pastels, among clematis there are 'Emilia Plater', 'Huldine', 'Betty Corning', 'Little Nell', to name but a few, or a different species is Clematis 'Sweet Sensation', which smells lovely.

    For roses, 2 m is not actually that high for many climbers and ramblers, although you can induce them to grow horizontally by tying in their long growths. Still, I'd go for something modest in size. Some Hybrid Musks, such as 'Cornelia' and 'Moonlight' are very good for the kind of situations you describe. 'Warm Welcome' is a lovely small patio climber. 'Ghislaine de Féligonde' is more apricot, and 'Alister Stella Gray', 'Francis E. Lester' and 'Snow Goose' are some of my own favourites. I'm just now trying Peter Beales' 'Friendship of Strangers' but it hasn't got big enough to judge properly yet. 

    Finally, you might want to give yourself a longer flowering period by having an early flowering climber interspersed, such as a honeysuckle; and at the end nearest the garage, you'll want to use something that can be kept tight against the fence by trimming, such as pyracantha. I would think that on 22m, removing around 3m for the garage door play, you'd need to allow about 3-4m spread sideways per rose (of the size I have in mind), so about 5-6 would be more than enough to fill up your space, and probably fewer.

  • Camridgerose12, what a mine of information you are. That's given me several weeks of research, thanks very much. I did ask the new neighbours (they've not actually moved in yet) about their plans for the laurel but they were non committal. It was actually quite diseased (lots of holes in the leaves), although it has perked up since it has been chopped back. I removed quite a lot of the roots when putting in the posts but pretty sure they will return so will take your advice and dig some more.

    I attach a few more photos if that will help. The top of the fence is level and the ground drops towards the garage (about 75cm). The grass in the first photo is the first front garden nearest the house. The hedge separates this from the garden area nearest the road (the "building site" area). You can just glimpse the main hedge at the gate in the 2nd photo. Planning to move the entrance several feet to the right and also widen it - some of the hedge will be removed. Eventually want to have a drive-in area and dispense with the gate.
  • didywdidyw Posts: 3,539
    Just a thought - if you are planning on doing work with the garage, taking out the door and putting in a window, you'll need good access.  I would put plants in pots at that end of the fence until that work is complete and then you can plant something permanent.
    Gardening in East Suffolk on dry sandy soil.
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