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Two tier border with railway sleepers to cover ugly back wall and fence

Hi, I am looking at improving the view by covering the ugly wall and fences at the back of the garden (see attached pics). Thinking of something two tier railway sleepers in the below link and running this all the way along the back wall (up to where the trampoline is). The top level I am thinking of bamboo (non invasive species) to grow up and cover the neighbours mixed array of fence panels. Then the bottom level could be a manageable selection of small shrubs and flowers/plants.

What are your thoughts? Would it look good or not? The neighbours (to left side in the pic) have a rockery going up which performs a similar function. Guess that would be a cheaper option.

Would this be doable for a bit of a DIY/gardening novice or would it need a professional and if so how much do you think it would cost?

Any alternative ideas most welcome.image



  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 79,204

    We had a retaining 'wall' built of sleepers two high on edge if that makes sense - you need a builder or someone who knows what they're doing as they need metal reinforcing rods drilled through them at regular intervals and into the ground quite a long way, to hold them together and stop the weight of the soil pushing them over.  It was about four years ago but I can't tell you what it cost, as it was part of a whole list of jobs. 

    I'm not sure that it would do the job you want, and anyway it would be a shame to cover up a good brick wall.

    I think I'd have large trellis panels fixed to posts 'strapped' to the wall - it would need to be done professionally, but I don't think it would cost as much as the scheme you mention.  Then I'd grow Clematis montanas up the wall and through the trellis panels - it'd look fantastic. 


    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • Alternative way of using the sleepers, easily done. Cut them into thirds (you can do the maths, one third of eight, in feet!), and sink them on end, butted up against each other. That way, if you want, you can do curves, too. A foot in the ground, and therefore about 18in. above ground.  The cost is about the same, because you don't need to secure them in quite the same way, saving on labour. 


  • hogweedhogweed Central ScotlandPosts: 4,045

    I would go for the trellis option as well. You will not be able to fix them to the walls/fences if they are not yours but will need to fix them on posts in front. Easy grow climbers will soon cover the trellis in a few years. Much cheaper than the sleeper option and raised beds. You then have the ability to plant some colourful perennials/shrubs in front. 

    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 79,204

    And in case you think that Clematis montana won't reach that height or cover that area ...


    ... it will image

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • Ivy2Ivy2 Posts: 16

    Thanks Dove :), The Clematis Montanas does look wife is very keen on the pink especially (we were thinking of cherry anagawa somewhere in the garden). It's deciduous I believe - perhaps an evergreen one would look better in the winter but that wouldn't be the montana one would it?

    The wall is ours (but the fence isn't) we could then have the trellis poles fixed to the walls as you say and then have them extending in height above the height of the the Clematis support themselves a little bit above the height of the trellis or would the trellis have to go up to the final height (hopefully up to the height of neighbours fence at least.

    Once again thanks, this sounds like a better and cheaper option than my initial plan.

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,119

    You can have other shrubs and planting for winter interest Ivy. Grouping some together to make a feature will draw your eye away.  The montanas have a good framework so you're not left with a completely bare space. The clematis will naturally make a 'waterfall' over any structure it's on so make sure it's sturdy!

    It would be a shame to hide the nice brick wall, but you could extend the planted area you already have ( I think that's your intention anyway) and plant that with more evergreens to hide the less attractive blockwork wall on the left. Perennials and bulbs added etc, and it will be really nice focal point  image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 79,204

    Clematis won't really "... support themselves a little bit above the height of the trellis ..."  but if you get this sort of thing they should cover the fence panels nicely and the montana will do a great screening job.

    I think it'll look lovely image

    Last edited: 13 September 2016 08:29:31

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 5,877

    You could have a couple of different climbers along with the montana if you want to extend the season. The montana will get very bushy though so if you want to see some flowers in, say, late summer, you need something with BIG flowers to stand out amongst the montana foliage 

    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • Ivy2Ivy2 Posts: 16

    ah, I see, I think I misunderstood and was thinking the trellis would be fixed to the front of the wall but the bottom of the trellis panels could sit on top of the wall like this:

    I see, that would be great.....I guess the neighbours at the back can have no issues with that? I think there fence panels are less than 183 cms so it would go above there fence panels and cover some of their trellis that is at the back of the pergola where they have a seating area - may block out a bit of light for them. Would that be unreasonable? Other option is to just get the same size trellis panels to match the height of their back fence....wouldn't cover as much of the ugly view but may be the more considerate thingimage

    Thanks though....I think I misunderstood at first....this could be quite a fabulous look I can see that.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 79,204

    Yes, that's the sort of thing I meant image  and I was imagining trellis roughly the same size as the neighbour's fence panels.  

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

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