Saturday, September 19, 2015

My no-longer-horizontally-challenged fence


I finally had a horizontally-oriented fence built. I've been wanting one for quite a while. When you live in such an urban setting, on only a 60'x80' lot size (with a notch taken out of even that), and nine neighbors surrounding us, with six of those actually sharing the fence, fences are important.

Early on, the bamboo seemed like a good idea – blocking
neighboring views, and providing a pretty green backdrop.
The existing fence was a standard 6' picket, not painted or stained, so it's gray and slowly rotting in place. The fence we had installed is only the 30' section at the end of our driveway. Formerly we had bamboo planted there that was invading our neighbors behind us. They are very nice and asked us what we could do to get rid of the bamboo – knowing that it will never be gone completely. Never, NEVER, let bamboo touch the ground unless you own the surrounding acres. Plant in well-constructed unbreakable, invincible pots or troughs. Or line the area for many inches deep with corten steel (the roots don't go too deep).

The fence was falling apart, and the area between our two garages was so engulfed with Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica), an old chain link fence, and a large stump, that we decided together to have someone come in and clean out between the two garages and build a new fence. Most fence companies don't do the clean-up portion of the job, nor the bamboo-be-gone digging that would be required. But we did find a contractor that could fit this in between jobs.

Then the bamboo got overwhelming.
And started visiting neighbors.
They spent a day taking out the old fence, digging new post holes, digging out the bamboo roots, and cleaning up between the garages, which was a big job. Day two they built the fence.

I told them exactly what I was looking for. It is cedar, with horizontal planks. The planks at the bottom are the widest, getting narrower as they go up, with slightly more space between them as they go up too.

It had to be strong, too. Our driveway is narrow and long - it goes the full 80' of the lot. And it's where the snowplow pushes the snow. Last winter, the snow piled there by the plow and added to by us shoveling had the snow pile there at the height of the fence!

Anyone that was on the Garden Blogger's Fling in Toronto that met me probably knows I was carefully looking out for, and studying any horizontal fence we came across. It seems to be a trending fence style, as most newer fences we saw had a horizontal orientation.

The adjacent fence. This is sort of how it looked before.
gray, dirty, missing picket points, leaning.
The contractor put in a a narrow locking gate so that our neighbors behind us can have access to the area behind their garage. We did put down a decent coating of weed killer, as well as covered the area with landscape fabric. But don't you know that the Japanese knotweed is growing underneath the landscape fabric and pushing it up? We'll stomp it down as best we can and try to stay on top of it as it tries to grow back.

Now I have to think about what to do with the fence and space design-wise. Left to its own devices, the cedar will turn silver gray over time. Not sure I want to have that happen. I like my color. I am considering a subtle stain of blue-green. Though I have not yet passed that by my executive committee.

You can't tell here, but there's just a slight bit of space,
between boards, to let in some light and air,
between the uppermost boards.
In the narrow strip of ground in front of the fence, which is basically a verrrry long triangle, I am thinking of planting grasses - divisions of grasses and maybe a few new or "gifted" grasses. I have plenty of grass choices from ones I already have including many Japanese forest grass clumps that need dividing. Those, and some taller grasses may be all I need in the spot - NO MORE BAMBOO. Even though the Black Cane Bamboo (Phyllostachys Nigra) was lovely, was a clumping-form  (as opposed to the running form),  made a beautiful backdrop – and has provided me with plant stakes for the rest of my natural life – it pained my to see it grow under the fence in into neighboring yards.

And then I have to start saving money to do the 80' section of the nearly 80' section of fence along the other side of the property that borders FOUR other houses.
Here's the awkward space I have to plant.
I do have plenty of grasses to divide to put in that new space.
Lots.
Between the garages got a coating of weed killer and there's still stuff growing underneath the landscape fabric.

Little gate for neighbor's access to the back of his garage, and to keep their dog in.
It brightens up the entire garden. But, as it ages, it'll become a silvery gray. Not sure if that's what I want.
A decent color would help make it a nice punctuation at the end of the driveway. I like the brightness.

Inspiration fence from the Forest Hill neighborhood in Toronto. Behind the horizontal slats was a large piece of shiny sheet metal. The fence glimmered as you walked by. This is my favorite fence of all time.
Another Forest Hill neighborhood fence from Toronto Garden Blogger's Fling.
Another horizontal fence, more of a screen in this setting between garden
and where they park their car, in the Cabbagetown neighborhood of Toronto.
And yet another inspiration fence from Toronto. this one was at the Toronto Botanical Garden.

14 comments:

  1. Love the new fence and look forward to learning what you do about color. I wanted the color fairies to come in and stain our new fence black last year when we had it built. Sadly they haven't shown up yet.

    Oh and I also photographed that first inspiration fence, the one with the shiny metal background. Just was editing my photo to post next week. (Great minds/eyes)

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    1. Thanks Loree. Black is a bit severe for my garden of color - and sounds swankily elegant. Glad someone else saw that metal-backed fence. I think people thought I was crazy describing it because no one else noticed it on the walk between gardens.

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  2. Jim, I love the idea of a blue-green stain on the fence. If I ever have to get another fence, I want it to be horizontal!

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    1. Thanks Cindy. If I were your neighbor I wouldn't want a fence to separate us!

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  3. I love it! Fences like this aren't allowed by the HOA nazi's in my neighborhood but I wish they were. I'd love to have all that privacy.

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    Replies
    1. That's unfortunate! Good fences make good neighbors. Beautiful fences make beautiful neighbors.

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  4. It looks good. I missed your inspiration fence on the Toronto tour but, I do like it...

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    1. The metal backed fence was found on the walk between the two gardens we visited in Forest Hills. It stayed with me. I might have had to double my fence budget to recreate it!

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  5. Japanese bamboo is not that easily defeated. I've read you have to cover it with thick black plastic for at least two years. My neighbors did that, and killed it in the area next to their shed, only to find shoots coming up through cracks in the concrete floor of the shed!

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    1. I'm planning on it taking a while. I'm patient. Diligence will be key. We didn't want to put heavy plastic between the garages as it would direct rain water directly into our garages! I may end up putting a hodge podge of pavers and stones back there to help cover areas and give it less area to come back.

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  6. The space between your garages looks small. I'd probably never plant there. I'd install a French drain to resolve drainage problems.
    All landscape fabrics are not created equal. Landscapers have more heavy duty fabrics available to them, but in your situation you'd have to make sure that it allows water to pass through. Properly anchored, the fabric should resolve the bamboo problem. Your idea of pavers is a good one because they can easily be removed. Gravel or small stones would be another consideration but only if they would not be removed --- removal is a lot of work. Stones are a very neat look though and water can easily pass through and splashing against the garages would be minimal. You could use a cheaper gravel for underneath and nicer small river stones on top if aesthetics is important in this space. I could see using the area for storage. I'd consider closing it off the way you did for your neighbour.
    Regarding fence colour- I very much like the colour of weathered grey cedar. I like it because it doesn't stand out. I'd want everything in front of the fence to be the focus.

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  7. The area between garages will not get any plants - you're right, it's too small - and no light! Water does pass through the landscape fabric I have there - it's the same stuff I line the interior of my pots with. And we did buy those anchor things and used hem in addition to laying down a few strategic bricks to keep it in place. I didn't think to store stuff back there - but it is a good idea. There's a few rarely used things I could hang on the garage wall back there! Color is still debatable for me. My wife hasn't weighed in yet! Thanks for the comment!

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  8. Re: fence colour - I've seen many shades of green used on fences that worked beautifully with plant material (and the house). I've worked on landscape designs with a friend and when trying to decide colour she oftentimes makes a prototype...draping fabric of the same colour over the object or buying a quart of paint and applying it to a large card etc. It has been helpful in deciding colour in certain situations.
    Good luck.. it's a big decision but it can be undone (something you want to avoid, I'm sure.)

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  9. Like the old adage, "Leave nothing but footprints. Take nothing… but inspiration." Glad you were able to take a bit of that back with you to Buffalo. Now, if we could only take credit for that amazing shed.

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