Mother Na­ture’s bar­ri­ers

Winnipeg Free Press - Section F - - HOMES -

Their land­scaper cre­ated a mix of bushes and trees to en­close their out­door eat­ing area, planted another set of trees and plants along the out­door walk­ing path and more to line their back­yard for pri­vacy.

Bill said the re­sults were glo­ri­ous. “I think what I like about it is the pri­vacy, but we also have a tremen­dous amount of height, and it’s like you have very high ceil­ings,” he said.

While wooden, iron and other metal fences are tra­di­tional, green fences ap­pear to be gain­ing steam at a time when nat­u­ral and sus­tain­able op­tions are trend­ing.

Green fences also have the ex­tra bonus of re­quir­ing lit­tle main­te­nance after the first year of in­stal­la­tion, said Ohio land­scape de­signer Nick McCul­lough.

“On the ap­pro­pri­ate site, it will need wa­ter and nu­tri­ents in the soil, and you can trim them if you want de­pend­ing on the style, but it doesn’t need much main­te­nance once it’s in­stalled,” McCul­lough said. In the first year, the trees need to get es­tab­lished, which in­cludes ex­tra wa­ter­ing and soil checks.

“If it’s a good site, it will out­live us,” McCul­lough said. A wooden fence, on the other hand, may need to be stained or re­painted ev­ery few years and even­tu­ally will need to be re­placed.

Green fences also don’t tend to have height re­stric­tions, said Jen­nifer Hoxsie, de­sign man­ager at Green­haven Land­scapes Inc.

“Wooden fences are often lim­ited by mu­nic­i­pal height con­straints and are not al­lowed within cer­tain (home­own­ers as­so­ci­a­tions),” Hoxsie said. “Nat­u­ral­is­tic and hedged plant­ings can be a great way to achieve the func­tional sep­a­ra­tion the client de­sires that is beau­ti­ful to look at, while meet­ing mu­nic­i­pal and HOA con­straints.”

For a home that she did in Glen­coe, Hoxsie wanted to screen a neigh­bour’s large house from her client’s en­try. A stan­dard fence could only be built less than two-me­tres high in the front yard, which wouldn’t have been ef­fec­tive.

“So we in­stalled a (five-me­tre) spruce along the bor­der, and lay­ered plant­ings in front... to cre­ate a beau­ti­ful green fence,” Hoxsie said. Ev­er­greens could have been another op­tion for that space, she noted.

The key is fig­ur­ing out which types of plant­ings would go well with the de­sign of your land­scape, and mak­ing sure they would do well in your cli­mate. In some re­gions, green fences must be able to sur­vive a hot and a cold sea­son.

The Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Land­scape Pro­fes­sion­als said hedges are pop­u­lar for green fences be­cause they can screen views, re­duce noise and cre­ate many dif­fer­ent types of pri­vate spa­ces.

When con­sid­er­ing dif­fer­ent types of plants, you should choose those that pro­vide a sig­nif­i­cant width, so that the fence is dense and hard to pen­e­trate. Height is also im­por­tant to con­sider — the fence should con­tain fo­liage from top to bot­tom, ac­cord­ing to the as­so­ci­a­tion.

Ev­er­greens of­fer year-round cov­er­age. For height, ju­niper and ar­borvi­tae are good op­tions, said Tony But­ter­worth, se­nior de­signer with Christy Web­ber Land­scapes and a mem­ber of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Land­scapes. But­ter­worth also likes Carpi­nus (Amer­i­can horn­beam), which is nar­row and up­right, and great for cre­at­ing a screen. They do lose their leaves in the win­ter, but you’ll use your yard less in the win­ter, and when the trees lose their leaves, you’ll gain light in your home, so it’ll be a win-win, he said.

Green fences do have a down­side, though.

“The No. 1 rea­son to have a fence is to so­lid­ify bound­aries, and if you put a hedge up, it’s not the most im­pen­e­tra­ble fence,” But­ter­worth said.

Many of his clients com­pro­mise by putting up an iron fence and then plac­ing green­ery in front of it to soften or even hide the fence. That way, the kids and the dogs don’t cross into your neigh­bor’s space, but the back­yard still main­tains a green feel.

PHO­TOS BY FOTOLIA

Es­paliered trees can pro­vide a green fence.

Pop­u­lar in Europe, green fences ap­pear to be gain­ing steam here in North Amer­ica.

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