When people think of screens, they usually envision solid walls or fences, which will certainly block prying eyes but often block light and air as well. You can achieve privacy without sacrificing quality of living behind the fence, however. In addition to tall plantings of trees and shrubs, which make long-lasting natural screens, there are abundant materials and designs for decorative fences that will achieve similar results.
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If you already have a chain-link, woven wire or solid plank fence and do not want the expense of. tearing it down and building something else, turn it into a vertical garden to give it new life. Vines are an obvious choice for wire or lattice work; simply plant them and train them up the fence. Grow them on a solid wall too with a support structure in front of the fence made from small closed eye bolts and wire. You need not limit your plantings to flowers and ivies; vegetables and fruits like cucumbers, squash, peas and passion fruit make lovely and useful screens as well.
Concrete is an often overlooked possibility for screening, perhaps because it evokes images of massive, solid walls more in keeping with prisons than gardens and backyards. However, a wide variety of decorative concrete blocks are available that are made especially for screening. With a well-built foundation, a mortared block wall provides long-lasting beauty and allows for nearly unrestricted airflow through the landscape. Decorative concrete is also a good choice near patios in sunny regions where light shade is desirable.
Wood Framed Bamboo
For a versatile fence, build open frames of 2x2-inch wood or 2-inch diameter bamboo fastened to larger posts set in concrete. Use eye bolts screwed to the underside of the top cross members to attach bamboo shades sized to fit precisely within the wood or bamboo frame. When you want shade or privacy, lower the bamboo screens. Roll them up for sunshine and breezes. Alternatively, you can lash bamboo poles directly to the framework as suggested in Decorating Eden. These screen ideas pair well with Asian style gardens, particularly in humid climates.
Open and Shut
Save money and build something attractive at the same time. A solid plank fence can be expensive and confining, but by alternating the planks with open spaces, you may save as much as a third on the material costs and give your yard a more open, airy feel. Projects For Outdoor Living advises you to simply build a plank fence as usual, but skip a board for every three or four you install all around. Attach stainless steel wires vertically at 2-inch intervals from top and bottom nailers in the open spaces. Train vines to grow up the wires for decorative screening between planks. Alternatively, leave out the wires and hang trailing plants from pots inside the openings.
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