need ideas for covering fence

mams(9)March 3, 2010


I have a long fenced area in my backyard that I'd like to

cover with some kind of greenery. It gets morning sun up

until 12-1pm. My wishlist :

Stays green all year


Fragrant flowers would be most desirable


seasonal flowers are welcome too.

Any suggestions would be welcome. If you have a green wall please post pics - would love to see it!


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Is it sunny? Star jasmine is easy to grow, blooms and has a fragrance.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 8:52PM
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ashleysf(9 San Jose,CA)

Whatever you do, please, please, please DO NOT plant English Ivy to cover the fence. I have a nightmare and invasion from neighbors doing just that and not controlling it. It will take over your block, street and city in a few years.
socks suggestion of Star jasmine is a great one. I have some grapes planted and trained on a fence. They do shed their leaves in winter.
Passion Flower, Honey Suckle, Morning Glory are good choices. You can also consider Kiwis. Good luck.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 10:11PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

I have a brick wall covered with Choisya ternata "Sundance". It is evergreen covered with FRAGRANT white flowers in the spring, plus flushes of flowers through the year. New growth is a light green to yellow. It responds well to shearing to shape and is not demanding of fertilizer or water. I have never in 15 years had a pest problem with it. It is a shrub not a climber but does not need staking or support. Leaves are glossy light green. Al

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 9:24AM
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Thank you for the suggestions!

socks12345: I absolutely adore the scent of jasmine, but haven't had good luck growing it. I have jasmine in the front and it has become kind of gangly, besides I only get morning sun along the fence I want to cover, so I'm guessing it wouldn't do that well in the location.

ashleysf: Thanks for all the suggestions, passionflower and honeysuckle are on my short list. Will definitely look into it. You are right about the ivy, I had some along the side of my house, it is soooo invasive. I had a tough time getting rid of it.

calistoga: Thank you Al about your suggestion. I have never heard of choisya. I will definitely have to look into it. You make it sound very desirable. I am seriously going to consider this option.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 12:57PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

I've got star jasmine on the north side of a fence. It covers the fence and never gets direct sun. It grows on a trellis attached to the fence and I trim it avery 6 week to 2 mos. and keep it about 4" thick against the fence.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 8:46PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Wow, Babka- that's just gorgeous. You have really trained that well.

Al, I have been lusting over "sundance" choisya for years and years. Do you have a photo of your fence to post? I would love to see it when it has that beautiful chartreuse foliage. I can't grow it down here, despite what Sunset garden book says.

Mams, most vines grow to the top of your fence and make a big wad at the top and are bare beneath. I have seen fuller green walls, like Babka's above, made of trellised shrubs like pyracantha. Boston ivy is the easiest and one of the prettiest wall covering vines. Star jasmine, though, should do well in the conditions you describe.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 10:08PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Star jasmine/Trachelospermum jasminoides, tends to do best in shaded conditions when it gets summer heat. It does prefer regular watering and more fertile soils to remain lush and green, and the straggly plants with chlorotic/reddish yellow leaves one so often sees on these plants usually indicates poor soil or too infrequent irrigation, or poor drainage from heavy clay soils. If you don't mind pruning to shape, Clematis armandii is another great fragrant evergreen vine, but is a rampant grower. Bignonia capreolata 'Tangerine Dream' doesn't have fragrant flowers, but it is attractive and very serviceable as a nice evergreen hedge that doesn't require all day sun to bloom. Carolina Jessamine/Gelsemium sempervirens is another clean growing flowering vine for semi-shade or sun.

If you don't get regular bad frosts much below 28F, you might also consider Creeping Fig, Ficus repens, which can look very nice if kept tightly trimmed against a fence or wall, but it does cling by holdfasts and can damage stucco walls. The Ficus shouldn't be allowed to form the larger adult foliage by being left untrimmed, if you want to retain the finer textured small juvenile foliage effect.

Another non fragrant wall shrub/espalier to consider with blooming flowers is Lavender Star Flower/Grewia caffra, or Cape Honeysuckly/Tecomaria capensis, but neither of these is a good choice if you consistently get much below 28F in winters. Both make superior wall shrubs that can be kept dense and tight against a fence, and have the added bonus of blooms.

Lastly, if you love fragrance and are willing to put up with much more frequent pruning and grooming to control size and remove old seed heads, Pink Winter Jasmine/Polyanthum jasminoides will bloom well with just morning sun, but tends to want to concentrate growth all at the top of a fence, and also sends out wandering shoots that will invade everywhere if left untrimmed, and root as they spread. The fragrance is incredible in January, February, March, and may even be too intense for some.

And Renee,
Have you tried growing the Choisya ternata 'Sundance' with dappled shade or morning sun/late afternoon sun as along a north facing wall? I suspect that it gets cooked foliage during heat waves in your location, as it sometimes does here in the San Francisco East Bay during our occasional heat waves. Otherwise it really is as easy to grow as the regular form, it just doesn't stand up well to hot sun which can "cook" the foliage.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 1:11PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Bahia- I would love to try it. The specimens I have seen at local nurseries have been a bit disheartening, though. I figure if Sperling can't manage to grow it will, I don't stand a chance.

I thought of Cape Honeysuckle as another possibility to cover a wall.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 1:19PM
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Here is my Honeysuckle. I get plenty of frost and heat here and neither bothers it. Its a east facing wall and doesn't get much sun until about 3pm.
It put in 6 and the strip is about 40 feet long.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 3:11PM
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DH is obsessed with star jasmine, and we have it everywhere. Edging our corner lot in full sun where it grows very well, under the crepe myrtle, in pots with lattice frames, and more. Not a very imaginative way to landscape, but it does look pretty when it blooms, and it's easy to care for except for trimming.

The fence looks great, Babka. Nice coverage. Does it bloom?

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 7:00PM
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Wow Babka, thats exactly what I'm looking to do. How long did your jasmine take to cover up that much fence? I'm hesitant with the star jasmine only coz the one in my front yard is not doing well (inspite of all the water and fertilizer). My only guess is that its getting too much sun. Maybe it will do well in the back.

Thanks Renee for the vote of confidence on star jasmine. I might try it. Also coz its easier to find than sundance Choisya.

Thanks gobluedjm for the picture post, the honeysuckle looks wonderful, its thriving really well along that wall. How long did it take for it to cover that much area?

Thank you bahia for all the suggestions and detailed description. I did consider clematis, its down to fragrant varieties of clematis or jasmines. I was also considering Al's suggestion of choisya, but its not that easy to get a hold of.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 8:35PM
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cottage_garden(Z10 CA)

I've also seen the following used similarly with great results:

Yellow Flowered Honeysuckle
Not sure of the name but a neighbor has one that produces lovely, deep green foliage with intensely fragrant flowers; it's covering the front of his garage and each year it manages to climb on top of the roof and cascade over and into my yard until he does his annual pruning.

Alba Maxima Rose
While this is a one time, four month out of the year bloomer, it grows intensely throughout the year and rather quickly covers just about anything. It has lovely deep green foliage which is offset by a profusion of double white blooms. It will continue to grow with or without any liquid encouragement so a heavy prune every few years is essential as it will grow onto itself. The blooms have a heavenly scent and the entire bush will be flush with beautiful white, double blooms. I have it in a corner and it's completely covered the corner and a portion of my neighbors back cottage (a good 6 feet across and 20+ feet high). And this is having never been taken it out of the pot!

Morning Glory - Sunrise Serenade
While I'm personally a little leery of morning glory as it's very difficult to control once established, unless you get a good freeze, it really does a fine job covering just about anything and the flowers can be stunning. There's a beautiful double pink variety which is quite lovely called Sunrise Serenade which may be worth a look.

Pink Jasmine
This is another lovely gem that's easy to grow with incredibly fragrant flowers. But this one has much wispier leaves than Star Jasmine, another one of my favorites, and b

Climbing Gardenia
Although this plant is not easy to obtain, if you can get a few, you'll have the most treasured climber around. It's a gardenia that literally climbs, has the typical glossy green foliage which becomes a nice thick climbing hedge with the most gorgeously fragrant and beautiful flowers. Each year I have to do a massive prune to keep it under control as the branches become quite strong and sturdy - easily drowning out other plants around it. Years ago I obtained a couple at Home Depot and see them sporadically each year. They never last long.

Eden Rose, cl
I have an Eden rose where I hoped to achieve similar results you're trying to obtain. It worked out splendidly although I had to plant several plants but the end result exceeded my expectations as the rose grow above the height of the fence and blocked out a neighbor's window (and then some) that looked into my yard. The blooms aren't all that fragrant but they are spectacular. The only side problem is the cleanup from the falling petals (which the Alba Maxima does not have) that have to be cleared less they become a bit messy.

Hope that gives some additional ideas to the outstanding suggestions previously made.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 9:47PM
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The honeysuckle was put in Mar 08 from 1 gallons. It grows really fast. When I cut it back its quite a bit. Once a branch is done flowering I'll cut back to about 3 feet tall. Its the only walkway from front to back so I need to keep the walkway clear, otherwise they would be much taller and wider than they are. It will easily grow 4-6 feet in a year.

It tolerates the heat here above 100 sometimes and I get frost also. Bees love it and so do hummers.

If you decided on it make sure you get tecoma capensis, it's not invasive like some other kinds that are more like a vine. I've seen it in red and yellow also.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 9:50PM
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Thanks cottage garden for all the suggestions. It has tempted me to look at other plants than jasmine or clematis. The alba maxima rose is so appealing. I have to look into it.

gobluedjm: The honeysuckle I have didn't bloom in the 2 years since I've had it, I got it from an acquaintance, I don't even know what variety it is. But it did grow quite a bit like you mentioned. Plus the branches touching the ground sprouted their own roots and became their own plants!! That was nice to watch, I'd love for them to bloom like yours though.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2010 at 12:44PM
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Mams, Gosh I don't know what to tell you to do. Cuz I do nothing to it but pruning. I don't fertilize it. It gets water once a week if no rain. I have seen the branches root, but most of the time the mulch stops that.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2010 at 1:36PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

Would've answered sooner, but we were off for a few days.

The star jasmine on our fence is planted 4' on centers, and took about 3 years to totally cover the fence. We made trellises with 6" squares to tuck in the vines to keep it tight to the fence. Wires would work as well. The first flowering in Spring makes it totally white and very fragrant (almost too much). Then it flowers sporadically over the summer. We also have it along the back fence where it gets 1/2 day of western sun. Does fine there too.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 2:16PM
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