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Garden Design

Choosing narrow plants and climbers to hide a boundary fence

Marianne Cannon

Marianne Cannon

February 26, 2016

Today I’m talking with landscape designer Peter Nixon about choosing ‘best-fit’ plants that will hide an ugly boundary fence, especially when there’s only a narrow planting area between a path and the side fence. In Part 1 we talk about shrubs and other plants with this very narrow habit, and in Part 2 we’ll discuss climbers.

Peter’s phrase ‘best fit’ planting means choosing the right plant for your growing conditions so you’re much more likely to have success. One common but very difficult area to plant is a narrow area between a path and fence that’s heavily shaded through the winter but exposed to hot summer sun when the sun rises and sets further around. You want evergreen plants but you want to avoid shrubs that grow up on a trunk or climbers that race to the top of their support, leaving the lower area bare.


Pavonia coccinea

Beautiful vibrant flowers on Pavonia coccinea


Here are some interesting plants like Pavonia coccinea to think about for this difficult spot, especially if you have a warm coastal to subtropical area, but also some such as blue bamboo that will tolerate frosts.


Part 1 – Narrow plants to hide a boundary fence – shrubs


Part 2 – Narrow plants to hide a boundary fence – climbers


You can grow climbers in a narrow passageway when you choose a ‘best fit’ plant. Peter describes how to install tensioned wire grow cables and then which evergreen climbers to choose that will stay ‘clothed’ right to the base all-year-round.


Establishing Muehlenbeckia complexa on tensioned stainless steel wire grow cables

Establishing Muehlenbeckia complexa on tensioned stainless steel wire grow cables


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8 years ago

how do we install those poles and wires? Where can we get them from?

Catherine Stewart
8 years ago
Reply to  adam

HI Adam – there’s a good article on GardenDrum by Helen McKerral about how to make a wire espalier from tensioned wire https://gardendrum.com/2013/07/10/how-to-wire-up-an-espalier/