My six this weekend are all about the boundaries because I am celebrating getting my privacy back. Long term readers of this blog will know that my old neighbours neglected their garden and it was overgrown with a thick barrier of ash and sycamore trees between our two properties which gave me reasonable privacy.
When the new neighbours moved in 3 years ago they did what any of us would do and cleared the garden. It was quite alarming for me as I suddenly felt like I was in a goldfish bowl. All the screening above the fence line was gone. This might not seem such a big deal but our gardens slope up from our houses and so with all the angles you often feel like you can be seen by your neighbours in your garden and they can see you which I don’t like.
Then to make matters worse because the garden had been neglected for so long the fences hadn’t been cared for and in some places it was only the trees and shrubs that were holding things together. So over the past two winters the fences have disintegrated or have bits missing and it has looked a real mess.
Not any more, they have had the fences replaced and we now have a lovely 6ft fence which is rather beautiful. Sadly, for the neighbours, as they are at the end of the road they are responsible for all the fences around their property so this must have cost a lot but I think it is fab. Suddenly, I have my privacy back and it brought home to me just how much I had missed that privacy. I think there is actually even more privacy than before as the fence is higher than the old one.
Not only have I got my privacy back but I have gained about a foot along the fence line. I need to fill in the trench left from where they dug out all the old tree roots etc but once I have done that I can play around and give some of my plants more space. I had left some Hawthorne seedlings grow up in recent years in anticipation of new owners clearing the garden and now I think I will cut the Hawthorne trees back to create more of a hedge along the fence which will in turn allow my Liquidamber tree to have more light and thrive.
The new fence at the end of the patio. The fence here was previous held up by a variegated ivy that I planted which was OK. The bamboos in pots were added when they cut all the trees down as it meant they could see straight from their garden down on to my patio which was horrid. The new fence is higher and somehow I think has obstructed the view but I think the bamboos may stay. Now they have a smart backdrop I may think again about what is around them and smarten it up.
As I am fixated with fences at the moment I thought I would include my back fence which you can just about make out through the undergrowth. The garden slopes up to it and last year I removed the path that used to run along the top of the garden as it was never used and was a waste of growing space. I am encouraging a wild and hardy exotic look up here. There is a huge thistle which has appeared from somewhere which sort of messes up the look of the planting but I was intrigued to see how big it would grow. Behind it is a fig tree which I had to prune hard last year as it had a lot of long branches going off at angles and I wanted more height than width. This year it is smothered in figs. I need to work out when I am meant to harvest them and what to do with the fruit as I don’t think I’ve eaten fresh figs before.
And finally my side fence which is the same style as the neighbour’s new fence but shorter. I thought I would include this as my final six as it another boundary photo and includes my marmite rose which I included in a previous post. I inherited this rose when we moved in about 16 years ago and for years and years it had one or two flowers. Then my other neighbours also indulged in some heavy handed pruning and cut everything back hard meaning that the rose suddenly benefited from light and more rain and this is the result!
For more Six on Saturday posts visit The Propagator’s blog.
I’m off to Yorkshire later today garden visiting for a week so I hope to have some interesting gardens to share with you soon.
If there was ever a book written for an anti-social recluse like me it is this one. Well so I thought, but actually Landscaping for Privacy changed my way of looking at creating privacy and has certainly given me food for thought.
The author, Marty Wingate, starts from the point that we are all living more closely together, that our outside space is more and more precious and that we really don’t want to see, hear, smell or be aware of what many of our neighbours are doing or have them know our business. Some people may say that this is a negative comment on society and shows how it is breaking down with us not engaging with our neighbours but in my opinion society has been always been like that. Most of us are happy to engage with our neighbours but on our terms not have it forced on us.
Whilst Marty looks at a range of issues: fencing out wildlife, preventing trespass, buffering sound, reducing pollution and creating windbreaks there were two areas that really grabbed my attention. Firstly the whole business of screening unwanted views or from my point of view giving me some privacy from my neighbours. I live on a housing estate which when it was built was designed to be very open, no hedges or fences in front gardens etc. However, I like my privacy and so to address this I have planted a laurel and beech hedge and some trees in the front garden. They went in around 5-6 years ago when I was more horticulturally and design ignorant and they just don’t work (see photo below); consequently I avoid the front garden. However, the answer is in this book. Putting a large hedge in isn’t the answer; it might hide the view but it creates a large block of planting often monotone which you have to look at and not get any joy from. Instead Marty suggests creating buffers which are consisted of “a mixture of evergreen and deciduous shrubs to provide a year-round green strip and to let in some extra light during the winter months’. Add some bulbs and perennials and you have something interesting to look at all through the year and you are creating a screen from your neighbours. It is just so obvious I don’t know why I didn’t think of it. This idea has fed into my plans for the front garden which will include formalising and reducing the lawn, creating deeper beds and adding layers of shrubs. I may even pull out the laurel hedge which just isn’t, and never has been, happy.
The second really interesting idea I took from the book was how planting can help improve the ‘climate’ in your home. I had picked up on this idea earlier in the year in a report on urban gardening by the RHS but this really set it out in a clear way. You can insulate the house with plants which helps to keep it warm in winter and cool in the summer. “A ring of shrubs planted within a few feet of the house creates air space that acts as an extra layer of insulation, keeping in the heat during the winter and providing cooling shade in the summer” This is quite fascinating to me as my house is surrounded on all four side by paving – not my doing it was put in when the house was built – and I have been wondering about lifting some in order to try to plant some climbers up the walls. Also if you think longer term you can plant trees in such a way that they will provide shade for the house in the summer. “For best results, plant a deciduous tree at least 1oft away from the side or sides of your home that receive the most sunlight.” You need to choose a tree with a round shape and broad canopy to maximise the shading. It’s all food for thought and there are plant lists throughout the book to help with that thinking.
Landscaping for Privacy is aimed at an American audience; I hadn’t heard of some of the plants and there are references throughout to sidewalks, city ordinances etc terms we don’t use. However, the problems are the same wherever you live so it is easy to look at the ideas and transplant them to your garden using different but similar plants. I particularly liked the ideas for hiding wheelie bins and began to wish that our council would introduce them just so I could have a stylish cupboard!
If you want to hide certain views, stop people or animal walking across your garden, beautify existing boundaries then this is certainly a book worth a look.