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green fence in challenging spot

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green fence in challenging spot

Postby northernrose » Jun 05, 2010 7:34 am

Hi all,

Would love some feedback and advice on a green fence. The location is challenging for a number of reasons, but mainly because it is beside a retaining wall constructed of straw bricks, which need considerable drainage. Thus, there is only about 18 inches of soil, and beneath that, gravel, providing drainage to the retaining wall.
I'm in Zone 2b (officially) and the site has sun from late afternoon through evening. Heavy clay soil I've been amending. Despite my misgivings, we put in a cedar hedge last year, which didn't survive.
I believe, due to the shallow depth, harsh winter and lack of snow cover, they didn't have a chance.. So, looking for alternatives. I don't think any shrub or tree would be able to live there because it is too shallow and the winter's too harsh. What do you all think?
I was also considering hops.

Thanks so much.
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Re: green fence in challenging spot

Postby B_BQ » Jun 05, 2010 8:18 am

That's quite the challenge you have!

Your biggest problem is the depth of the soil, (which you already know!), and anything which grows quite tall is going to need to put down lots of roots for stability.

I think trees are probably out of the question.

What about shrubs. There are so many. Others will know much more about the root requirements for specific shrubs.

I was thinking of Rugosa Roses; Boxwood, (for some reason small Boxwood is incredibly cheap this year, as low as $5. per 12" plant, and I found room for 10! :) ); Peonies; Ninebark; Dogwood; Ornamental Currant; Spirea; lilac, and many more.

You will probably have to resign yourself to really heavy mulching for the winter, whatever you choose.

~BBQ
Zone 5b
South/Central Ontario

Every day may not be good, but there's something good in every day
~ Author Unknown
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Re: green fence in challenging spot

Postby northernrose » Jun 05, 2010 8:29 am

Hi BBQ,
Thanks. Great ideas. I'm wondering if even shrubs would survive given the depth and the cold winters we get.
We also need something that's going to get at least eight feet tall, or preferably taller. We have wonderful neighbours, and they have fantastic toys, but we don't really need to be looking at them all the time, lol.
I love ninebark. Lilacs would be lovely there too. Mulching is no problem, but will it be enough? We could also build a raised bed for more soil depth, but I'm wondering if to survive the harsh winters, depth needs to be below the surface.
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Re: green fence in challenging spot

Postby OGrubber » Jun 05, 2010 8:44 am

Hi NR,
I would probably go with a lattice or other open type fence and grow annual vines, such as morning glories or runner beans [you could throw a few hops in there as well and see if they overwinter]... alternatively, if it's not too windy there, you might be able to get away with a mass planting of sunflowers. I8 inches isn't a lot, but it's enough, I think for that sort of thing.
I'd also look into some ornamental grasses. I'm not overly familiar with these, but I'd bet there are some tall species that prefer the drier conditions that your shallow soil offers.
Market Gardening - Just another day at the plant.
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Re: green fence in challenging spot

Postby northernrose » Jun 05, 2010 8:49 am

Thanks, That's what I was suggesting to my boyfriend but he wants something that is more perennial. I like the idea, though, of combining the annuals with a perennial to see it it does overwinter. I was thinking about sunflowers too. I have hundreds of seedlings (thanks to all my birds) that I could transplant in there.
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Re: green fence in challenging spot

Postby B_BQ » Jun 05, 2010 8:56 am

Hi again:

I like Inge's idea of some sort of screen.

When we decided to downsize nearly 5 years ago we moved into the outskirts of town on a nice sized lot, (1/2 an acre), but I will still wary of losing my privacy. The next door neighbour has a beautiful property, with gorgeous perennial gardens and a patio with pegola, which was adjoining our back yard. I didn't know them then of course, but was concerned that when they were sitting on their patio, (which was a good distance from their house), they would be able to see part of our back yard.

I didn't want a solid fence, but just something that would give us a little privacy.

I decided on a couple of old wrought iron gates. We dug a couple of holes, (about 14" deep), and sunk the posts of the gates into this, added quick-setting cement, and waited a couple of days. It was, and still is, as solid as a rock. Over this screen grows three clematis and two climbing roses. The 'Polish Spirit' clematis is now at least 8 feet tall and almost covering the screen. We get to enjoy the beauty of the growth and my neighbour says that they also enjoy the added colour!

Something like that would work for you, but I suspect you would have to choose a lighter screen, as your post holes would be somewhat less stable.

I do have a pic of it, but don't have time just now to find it. When I get back from running around today I'll sort it out and post it for you if you like.

Hops are a great choice, as is Dutchman's Pipe. I planted both of these at a corner of my house to cover a downspout. I didn't even amend the soil so they're growing in foundation rubble. They not only survived but thrived, and come back every year! I think the hops will start clambering over the roof of the garage this year!

You could talk with someone at your local nursery to find out what would reliably grow and over-winter in your area.

~BBQ
Zone 5b
South/Central Ontario

Every day may not be good, but there's something good in every day
~ Author Unknown
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Re: green fence in challenging spot

Postby agedgardener2 » Jun 05, 2010 4:11 pm

What do you mean by straw bricks?
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Re: green fence in challenging spot

Postby B_BQ » Jun 05, 2010 5:32 pm

It was easier to run out and take this pic of the 'screen' I put up. The garden behind the screen is my neighbours.

The 'Polish Spirit' Clematis is just about to bloom profusely! It is really spectacular, and only in the ground 3 years.

~BBQ
IMG_1009.JPG
IMG_1009.JPG (208.37 KiB) Viewed 2707 times
Zone 5b
South/Central Ontario

Every day may not be good, but there's something good in every day
~ Author Unknown
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B_BQ
 
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Joined: Nov 14, 2006 1:59 pm
Location: Bay of Quinte, SE Ontario Zone 5a/b

Re: green fence in challenging spot

Postby B_BQ » Jun 05, 2010 5:58 pm

I also just took a pic of the hops I only planted last year!
It's not a good day, or time, as the sun was in my eyes, and it's quite windy!
However, i think you can see that this is a very vigorous, and fast growing, vine, which you could easily train to grow in the direction you wanted.
I'm not sure of the hardiness of it, but you could easily check.
It has a very nice leaf colour, sort of limey green.
~BBQ
IMG_1011.JPG
Zone 5b
South/Central Ontario

Every day may not be good, but there's something good in every day
~ Author Unknown
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B_BQ
 
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Joined: Nov 14, 2006 1:59 pm
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Re: green fence in challenging spot

Postby agedgardener2 » Jun 06, 2010 5:16 pm

I still want to know about straw bricks!!!!
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