How to grow an ivy fence

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If you have an old, rusty chain-link fence or a drab wooden one, don't replace it -- cover it with ivy. Ivy is a vine and readily grows up and around virtually any vertical surface. Planting a mature ivy plant purchased from a garden centre speeds up the process. Soil preparation around the fence ensures the ivy covers the fence quickly. Keep in mind that ivy does best when it is in partial shade, and even does well in full shade. Too much sunlight will stunt the ivy's growth, and will even kill it.

Use a tiller to break up the soil at the base of the fence. Set the tiller depth to medium, or between 15 to 20 cm (6 to 8 inches). Remove weeds and rocks along the fence line. Rake in a 2.5 cm (1 inch) layer of compost into the tilled soil. Tilling the soil helps with drainage, and compost will improve growing conditions.

Measure your fence line. A mature ivy plant stretches approximately 1.8 metres (6 feet), it will stretch 90 cm (3 feet) in either direction from the root ball. Divide the length of your fence line by six to determine how many plants you need. Untie stems that are attached to the support stake in the plants' pots. Starting 90 cm (3 feet) down the fence line, stretch out the vines, and place an ivy plant every 1.8 metres (6 feet) along the fence line.

Remove the first ivy plant's root ball from its planter pot. Tilt the plant's pot sideways. Tap the pot with your palm several times to help loosen the soil. Place one hand over the top of the plant so that you cradle the plant and touch the soil. Slowly turn the pot upside down until the root ball slides out. Put the plant on the ground.

Measure the length and width of the root ball with a tape measure. Use a shovel or garden trowel to dig a hole 90 cm (3 feet) down the fence line for the root ball at the beginning of the fence line. The hole needs to be deep enough and wide enough for the root ball to fit into. Not every root ball will be exactly the same size, so measure each one for each plant before you dig its hole.

Place the root ball into the hole. Fill in the space around the sides and top of the root ball with soil.

Stretch out the ivy 90 cm (3 feet) to the left, and the same distance to the right. The ivy should lie directly on the ground so each stem touches the soil. This will encourage all of the stems to root into the soil.

Pin the ivy to the ground using "U" shaped wire pegs. The wire pegs keep the ivy from blowing out of the soil during windy conditions. Place a wire peg every 60 cm (2 feet) along the vine. Cover the vine with loose soil, but do not cover the leaves.

Water the soil around the ivy to nourish it and pack down the soil and hold the ivy in place. Continue watering the ivy and soil every week. Keep the soil moist but do not saturate the ground.

Watch the plant for new shoots that will grow from the leaf joints. The shoots will begin growing after the stems have taken root in the ground, which can take several weeks.

Attach the new shoots to the fence using wire "U" clips or twist ties to encourage the plant to grow up the fence, rather than flat across the ground. Place the stem of the shoot in the notch of the "U" clip, and push the clip into the fence to attach it.

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