This is not exactly visually appealing.

Fences are necessary. They contain children, dogs and minor livestock. They exclude deer, cattle and others who are unwanted within an enclosed space. Some obscure unwanted scenery. However, even the more ornate sorts are more functional than aesthetically appealing.

That is why hedges are popularly grown to obscure fences that obscure outside scenery. Climbing vines take up less space than hedges, but are likely to damage the fences that they are intended to obscure.

Where I lived in town, the garden in back was surrounded by fences. I loathed them. I grew a grapevine on one. Another one was outfitted with a trellis of twine for pole beans to climb. Tall zonal geraniums obscured at least the lower half of the fence behind the laundry yard. I would have preferred no fences at all.

There were no children or dogs to contain. Nor were there cattle or deer to exclude. Except for the laundry and trash yards, there was no unwanted scenery to obscure. Nonetheless, the neighbors wanted fences, probably because they all believed that backyards should be fenced. It was just how it had always been.

Some urban fences are more like high and solidly constructed walls. Batons cover the seams between planks. Where local ordinance limits the height of fences, lattice is commonly added on top to (sort of) lawfully increase height. It is difficult to grow much on the shady north side of such tall fences.

I am fortunate that I do not work with many fences anymore. However, an area at work is surrounded by cyclone fences. It is necessary and practical, but would be very unappealing around landscape situations. I put pole beans on one, and two grape vines on another. If I must contend with them, I may as well take advantage of them.

13 thoughts on “Horridculture – Fences

  1. I like your approach to fences. On my walk through the town the other day I went past a long, tall stone wall which has ferns and dandelions growing here and there out of the sides. Many people would think it looks untidy, but I find it fascinating.

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    1. Freeway soundwalls through San Jose and Los Angeles are overgrown with Boston ivy or other clinging vines. It muffles the sound and obscures graffiti. I never get the opportunity to plant such vines, just because they are so destructive to all other surfaces. They just happen to be harmless to soundwalls. It is a matter of finding what works where. Fleabane grows out of some of the stone walls here because it is more appealing than bare stone.

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      1. It works well in climates that are too arid for other things to survive in stone. It dries out in summer of course, but looks good longer than most other perennials that hang out of old walls.

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    1. My colleague in Los Angles hedges almost all of his landscapes for that same purpose. His own garden if fenced, but the hedges obscure the fence. I suppose it works for those who want that sort of private space. If I want that sort of privacy, I would not live in a town with millions of other people.

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  2. There is a phenomenal Gary Larson Far Side cartoon about fences. Wish I could attach the photo for you. If you google ‘gary larson far side fences’ you’ll find it. Hilarious and very on point! LOL!

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  3. At our first apartment there was a scrubby backyard surrounded by a chain link fence. One of the first things we did was plant ‘Heavenly Blue’ morning glories at its base. Made quite a difference, and even the building’s owner appreciated the change.

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    1. Oh, that would be rad! They do not do well here at all, but I know what it looks like from pictures. (Unfortunately, the only morning glory that does well here is the blue dawn flower, which does much too well.)

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