Raise the Bar

Use fences and trellises to give your herbal landscape a lift.

| August/September 2007

  • A fence can add definition and drama to an herbal landscape. Hops vine softens the vertical lines of this crisp white fence.
  • A fence can add definition and drama to an herbal landscape. Hops vine softens the vertical lines of this crisp white fence.
    Rob Cardillo
  • Jazz up a fence or trellis with the fragrant blooms and showy pods of hyacinth bean, a fast-growing vine.
    Rob Cardillo
  • A fence can add definition and drama to an herbal landscape. Hops vine softens the vertical lines of this crisp white fence.
    Rick Wetherbee
  • Showy clematis weaves gracefully through a bamboo trellis.
    Rob Cardillo
  • How to Install a Support Post: Properly installed posts can mean the difference between a fence or trellis that leans after a season or two and one that lasts a decade or more. Here’s how to put them up right: 1) Dig a hole at least 24 inches deep and about three times the width of the post. If you live in an area where the soil freezes deeply in winter, be sure that the bottom of the post will be 12 inches or more below your frost line. For a heavy vine, dig a hole 24 to 36 inches deep. A post-hole digger makes the job easier. 2) Create a firm base. Put a large, flat stone at the bottom of the hole. For drainage, add gravel to the level of the top of the stone. Tamp the stone in place with post. 3) Set post. Set the post on top of the stone. Use a level to ensure that the post is vertically aligned inside the hole. Add another 2 to 3 inches of gravel to the hole. 4) Add concrete. In a wheelbarrow, combine ready-mix concrete with water until the mix is the consistency of peanut butter. Fill the hole with concrete—a few inches at a time—and tamp each layer to remove any air bubbles. Check to be sure the post is still plumb; realign if necessary. Mound concrete an inch or two above the ground, sloping it away from the post to allow water run-off. Cap each post for a fine finishing touch.
    Rick Wetherbee

Have you noticed the way some gardens seem to stand out from others? A garden that draws attention and admiration is one that goes from bottom to top, layering plant colors and textures and using structural elements of varying heights to create excitement. The depth and dimension created by layering is important to the design of every successful garden, and structural additions such as fences and trellises make it easy to accomplish.

These versatile supporting structures can do more than provide privacy or define a garden area. When selected and sited carefully, they can play a leading role in your landscape. Cover them with an attractive plant, and these stylish structures can take your garden to a new level.

Here’s how to choose one that’s right for you.

Fencing Fundamentals

For many people, a fence is merely a tall wooden barrier used to mark the property line between neighbors. But practicality aside, a fence is also a visual prop that can be any style, material or size, and you can put it anywhere within your yard, not just at the edges.

For instance, you might use a 2-foot-tall wattle fence (a rustic woven fence made from flexible branches) to accent and define beds and borders. Or, you might choose a 4-foot-tall white picket or split rail fence to provide a greater sense of enclosure without blocking your view. Both create a charming background for annuals, perennials and low-growing shrubs.

A fence that reaches 6 feet or higher provides a quick fix for privacy issues as well as a beautiful backdrop for showcasing taller ornamentals, such as hollyhocks, as well as rambling roses and climbing vines. You even can use a single section of tall fencing in the center of a garden island to serve as a focal point among herbs and perennials or as an artistic divider between different garden rooms.



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