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What would you do with this alley way?


We have an alley way that runs alongside our flat. It doesn't get a lot of light at all, and can be a little damp. What do you think we should do with it? Our flat can be a little dark, as a few windows just have a view of the fence which blocks out the light. So I was thinking about painting the fence a light green/ cream colour, and then putting down light gravel. And then perhaps a few climbers and ferns dotted throughout. What does everyone think? I'm particularly unsure about the colour of the fence - would light look awful?

Thanks very much



  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 21,735
    I think you have the right ideas, go for it. Ferns would look nice against a light fence and it would brighten up the area.
    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,053
    I agree, a light coloured fence would really lift the area, you would need to wait until the wood is thoroughly dry before painting and scrub off all the green mould first. Bear in mind that the green will return on the fence if it’s mostly shady and damp, but just think of it as character 😊

    Doesn’t look as if you have any soil to plant into, so would need to choose a climber that would be happy enough in a large pot (many aren’t) and that will grow well in shade. I have a Japanese acer ‘Bi-hoo’ happy a pot, in full shade, has beautiful lime green feathery foliage and colourful orange/yellow stems in winter - something like that might give you some height and complement ferny things.
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • PlantmindedPlantminded Posts: 2,283
    Another vote for your plan!  Just to add that you can make cleaning your fence easy by using an algicide such as Algon or Patio Magic a couple of days before you start painting.  I use this on my fencing whenever green patches return over winter.  It will also revive your decking, concrete path and any stonework, including gravel.  It's best to apply with a 5 litre garden sprayer.
    Wirral. Sandy, free draining soil.
  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze Posts: 4,277
    @Iscbrydges have a small border at the side of my house it is planted with Polystichum setiferum, Euonymous Green Pillar and Asarum europaeum, all these plants could be grown in pots too. I also have white wood anemones to lighten up what would otherwise be a fairly dark area. White flowers that can tolerate shade will look good. Hardy geraniums, impatiens  are other possibilities.

    BROWN IS A COLOUR   Piet Oudolf
  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    I have a very silmilar side return. I grew begonias, fuchsias and viburnum tinnus there in planters and they flowered quite fine, with zero direct sun.
  • Shauna2021Shauna2021 Posts: 42
    edited March 2022
    Hello, I have a similar alleyway at the side of my house too. I have ferns, a climbing hydrangea, a honeysuckle bronzii and a climbing rose called, I think, open arms. They  seem to love it there. They arent in pots, but we just lifted flagstones and dug out about a foot of rubble and sand and added some compost and that was 5 years ago and they all seem happy enough, so perhaps they would be ok in big pots. I also have another shaded area with astilbes and hostas in pots which also do well. 
    I'm not an expert gardener though so others may be along with better ideas.
  • Thank you so to much to everyone for your replies! I am going to look into all of the above plants and choose a few to go into that space. I'm still a bit unsure about painting the fence...will these plants look pretty against a light coloured fence? Or should we just leave as is and fill with plants as in the above pic! Sorry I am a real newbie. I wouldn't even call myself a newbie to be honest! 
  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze Posts: 4,277
    Personally I am not for painting fences the super photo above shows how the 'eye' can be taken away from the fence. You have a lovely project here and I am sure you will enjoy learning. Different size pots will work well. 

    BROWN IS A COLOUR   Piet Oudolf
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