In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
August, 2003
Regional Report

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My new fence will soon be adorned with clouds of sweetautumn clematis.

Fences Can Really Enhance a Garden

We started our weekend by finally facing the fact nine overgrown Zabel honeysuckles at the edge of our driveway were, in fact, eyesores. Russian aphids make little witches' brooms at the tip of each branch every year, making them look even weedier than usual. Yes, they gave us privacy, but weren't very nice to look at. Besides, the "bed" they were in washed onto the driveway with every rain. They had to go!

Fences: Beautiful and Functional
After a lot of pondering, we came up with the idea to put in a fence. We still want some privacy since the adjacent field will be developed with houses eventually, but we also wanted something pleasant to gaze upon.

It was a hard decision for me because I don't tend to like fences. I'd much rather see plants with soft lines. But in some cases, a fence is not only necessary, it also can be a beautiful piece of structure that is well tied to the landscape. This fence is not intended to keep anything out or in, but rather to break the line of sight into our yard. And a newly defined bed will give an edge to our asphalt driveway, which now just sort of fades away into dirt.

We felt that one of the most important aspects of putting in a fence was to do it in such a way that it wouldn't mar the landscape, but rather look as if it belonged there. We decided a paddock style fence would blend most easily with the vegetation and the style of our home, making the fence look as if it was always a part of the landscape. The fence would be built in two free-standing sections that would actually be more like trellises than a fence.

Fences Define New Planting Beds
Probably the best part of the entire project is that I get a new bed to plant. We've already put an arborvitae between two sections of fence, and plan to plant the entire 2-foot-wide bed in front of the fence with daylilies. They will shade the roots of two sweetautumm clematis and two other types of clematis to be decided on next spring.

Building the fence ourselves has given me a new respect for fence-installers. It was frustrating at times, but also very rewarding because of the problem-solving aspect to it. Best of all, we're proud of the final result, and enjoying it. I looked out this morning and there was a squirrel sitting on one of the posts, as if it had always been there. That was what we were trying to achieve.


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