(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on July 3, 2008. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to respond to your questions.)
There are many styles and sizes of fence on the market these days. You can find them at any garden center or lumber supply store. But for this article I will discuss the lattice panel fence which I designed to help slow the hard southeast winds we receive during the spring season. The fence in no way stops the wind. It merely hinders it. We could not stop the wind as it gusts upward of 40 mph. I employed latticework in my fencing so the wind would flow through rather than pound into it and thus blow it over. We have had that occur in the past. As it was my husband still had to design braces to reinforce each fence section from behind. If you live in an area of the country which regularly receives hard winds you fully understand our dilemma.
The fence is 6' tall. I built it using 8' long by 4' wide lattice panels. Not only has it helped immensely with our wind problems it also makes a wonderful garden wall for not only climbing plants, but also shrubs and ornamental trees. To begin this fence you must first have a great deal of patience, for there is quite a lot of painting involved. You may buy the pre-painted lattice panels which will save you a large degree of work. I built my fence using the unpainted panels. I fashioned unique 'toppers' to give the 100' length of fencing a cohesive yet attractive look.
We will begin in this article with a small listing of the plants which we have on the fence as space is limited. Part 2 of my article will give detailed instruction on building this fence for your own yard.
As always consider the soil which you will plant in and your particular hardiness zone. There is nothing more discouraging than putting in a plant and enjoying its beauty all season to have it die in the winter because it was not hardy to your zone. I have made this mistake countless times. I am a Floridian transplanted to Missouri, after all. It was difficult for me to adjust to the difference in hardiness zones. So do not feel badly if this has happened to you. Gardening is all about trial and error.
Choose plants to compliment your new fence, or even one you now have, rather than disguise it. The fence is nice to admire all to itself. I have had many guests compliment me on our lovely fence. I simply smile and think, 'Yes and it was put in as a practical means to hinder the wind not to look pretty'. The plants do make a large difference in the way the fence appears. If it were covered completely with bulky, invasive vines it would look overdone. But with vines and climbers that gently weave through the lattice it is pleasant to look upon. So I will list the plants I have employed in my area which is Zone 5 as a base for you to use in choosing your own plants for the fence.
We use Morning Glory to add a touch of fineness each season.
I have planted a variety of shrubs on the yard side of our fence to help hinder the wind and for our own enjoyment. Caprifoliaceae Weigela florida Mine is 'Variegata'.
Part 2 of my article will give fence building instructions. Look for Part 2 on July 3, 2008 as well. Part 3 will be out on July 4th, 2008.
All photographs are of my gardens.