Allow Sunlight thru a Chain Link fence (but conceal)?

sparkyrMay 6, 2011

I am looking for some advice about what plant I can grow on top of a large retaining wall/hillside that will slightly "conceal" a chain link fence withOUT blocking the sun. Obviously, I won't completely able to conceal the chain link but I'm hoping there is a plant that will help make it less noticeable. However, it is really really important not to block the sunlight too much. Additionally, it is way up high on a wall so it is very inaccessible so regular pruning (to thin a thicker plant) is not possible. :(

Does anyone have any ideas?

Things I've considered:

1. Ivy (since leaves will block the sun I don't think will work).

2. Sarracenia (I don't know which species or if they grow in SF but I thought the larger tubular shape of the pitchers might conceal. Plus, it doesn't look like they grow too densely)

3. An ornamental grass (I love horsetail but, again, I think it grows too thick and would block the sun). Maybe there's another?

4. Lowes has a plant that has a large white flower on it (almost looks like a really large orchid but it definitely isn't). Maybe a type of plant the flowers?

I attached a photo. You can't see the chain link in the photo because the sun is too bright but you can see the wall and the top bar of the fence.

Thanks for your input!!

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I can tell you that if you're not going to be able to prune the plant, you probably wouldn't want to put Sarracenia there because they require a bog habitat best provided by growing them in a container of water, so you'll have to constantly be climbing up to them to refill them as the water evaporates (which it does, and quickly, as I am finding out with my pitcher plants this year). Basically any vine is going to need to be pruned in order to keep it thin like you want, but you can do it less often by choosing a species that grows slowly (unfortunately I can't give you any suggestions for that, I'm still new to this myself).

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 7:48PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

I would not plant a vine at all, because anything will block the sun to some degree, and all will have to be pruned. Horsetail is a nightmarishly invasive plant. I know because I have it.

Perhaps clematis would do the trick, but they like moist soil. Is the spot moist?

Have you considered painting the chain link a dark green or black? That makes it almost disappear in some situations. Your photo is not there, so I can't tell anything about your situation. (You have to put a link in the box or put the html code into the body of your message to get a picture attached.)


    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 2:54AM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

Egads, no ivy, NO horsetail! Both are invasive and awful. Ivy equals rats. Plant it and "they will come". I would try something like Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Silver Sheen' or 'Marjorie Channon'. They have a nice lacy look, are well-behaved, don't get too tall (you might need to top at some time to keep them at the height you want). If you can post a photo (just upload to Photobucket, then copy the html coding, and paste the html coding string into your message) that would help.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 11:21AM
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Uploaded with

I can run a drip line up there. Painting the fence won't work so well because it is against the sky. Is there an ornamental grass that is stays pretty sparse, whispy?

Here is a link that might be useful: Retaining Wall + Fence

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 9:05PM
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Ok... so in the photo above, there is a fence on top of the patio wall. You can't see all the chain link because of the back light but you can see the top bar of the fence. Obviously, there is only a small corner of light for this area so I can't really block too much of it.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 9:33PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Attach shade cloth in a color of your choosing to the fence in a neat, tidy manner. You can get custom sizes neatly edged with grommets for attachment from places such as Farmtek. Use shade cloth that is not too dense so the sun can get through. No watering, trimming, or care needed until it is time to put up new shade cloth.

If you wanted to get creative, before installation, you could lay large leaves over the shade cloth and then spray paint around the edges to make a leaf silhouette pattern on the shade cloth, to create the illusion of foliage without any foliage.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 9:36PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

If you are willing/able to run a drip line up there, than doing a vertical garden with epiphytes such as bromeliads is very doable, and you could use Tillandsia species that need no soil, or could use other types of bromeliads in small half baskets attached to the fence. Tillandsia somnians is a nice one that sends out long arching flowering spikes that then form plantlets after it blooms. Rhipsalis species, orchids such as Epidendrums and mini-cymbidiums could also work well, or succulents in hanging baskets such as Sedum morganianum, Gratopetalum paraguayense, Sedum palmeri, etc. All of these plants are of the type that will tend to cascade, or form clumps rather than gain in height and mass, so won't block your sun.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 8:14PM
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That's a great idea using the shade cloth.... What % would you suggest? Would the 30% effectively camouflage the chain link?

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 8:14PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

I would get samples and see which you prefer. The smaller the % sounds like it would be best for you.

The vertical garden bahia suggests sounds interesting, just have to plan how much blockage you can tolerate, and which plants are best for the sun exposure in that area.

The other thought that occurred is to survey exactly where your view of the offensive fence is--if it is just one or two points, you may be able to plant something away from the fence that obscures your view exactly at that point or points, rather than obscuring the fence itself.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 2:16PM
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Min3 South S.F. Bay CA

bahia- your suggestion to make a leaf pattern on shade cloth is fabulous. i'm going to do that in my garden!
many thanks, min

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 11:38AM
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How about daylillies?

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 6:26PM
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Dick_Sonia(Sunset 17)

Eccremocarpus scaber is a flowering vine that typically makes a delicate tracery on a trellis without overwhelming it. There are no guarantees, though. Most vines have the potential to eventually take over if they are happy where they are planted

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 12:58PM
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