Hedge or Fence - Suggestion needed.

greendale(6B)May 19, 2012

Greeting.

We will be soon moving into our first house and are thinking about put a fence or tree hedge around our property. The house is at a corner lot, although the neighborhood is very nice and the roads are used by residents only (not a main road to anywhere), with a 3 years kid - a little worried about she wondering into the road. The house is colonial, North side of the lot is a 6' fence of the north neighbor. West side neighbor planted a row of tree along the his property - but not a pricy hedge. see attached picture.

Some initial thoughts: Fence once installed it is easy to maintain but sometime looks boring and gray. But intimidated by the maintenance of a tree Hedge. We see a lot of formal hedges (like in Newport RI) that are very beautiful but do not know how many time/effort a hedge required. (been a first time home owner). Also, if go with hedge - what kind? Conifer trees or something else.

Also, cost wise? Increase the property value wise?..

Another question, look at the picture the proposed fence line A and B, when we looked this house and talked about put a fence, our agent said the fence on the front better in the middle of the property (line B) instead of line A - any reason for that, or I can put where ever I wanted?

Any thoughts and suggestion are appreciated.

Thanks in advance

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NHBabs z4b-5a NH

My first thought is that to keep a child safely within your yard, you want a fence all the way around. You could use a basic metal mesh fence and then plant to hide it, but a hedge won't keep a child in, especially a new hedge that has gaps to allow the plants to grow.

It looks like you have at least partly shady conditions, so a hedge of all the same kind of plant may not grow evenly, and if there is too much shade or root competition, you will need to consider plant choice vs fencing carefully. What kind of trees are they? Do you like the look of less formal hedges that are made up of a variety of different species? Would you consider a picket fence or other open, decorative fence rather than the solid gray boring wall you might be considering?

What direction is north?

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 9:56AM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

First, kids don't stay little forever. Ignoring the kid, what would you do?

Second, kids aren't like dogs, where you build them a good kennel and assume they will stay in there while you leave them. Kids you have to keep an eye on no matter how they are contained. So the point is more a boundary to slow them down, and make them think twice about crossing than something that will physically keep them contained. That's why split rail fences work very well here. It's an unmistakable boundary that is cheap and easy to put up. We also have an old row of white pines that works on the same principle.

Chain link is climbable. Stockade fencing can be used for tennis and baseball practice. Picket fencing can be climbed. Gates can be opened. The biggest factor is parental supervision.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 11:39AM
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molie(z6 CT)

I'd go with a fence for several reasons.

First, it's true that a hedge would not only take a long time to grow tall enough to become a true barrier----- it will also require constant sheering to keep it looking good. In the long run a hedge is not practical, unless you have a gardener! Plus you'd need a great many plants to create that kind of hedge. In time, it would become a huge, boring green 'wall' that would hide the house.

Also, I agree with your realtor. Fence line A would not be a good choice because it will 'enclose' the house and make it look prison-like. You want the beauty of the home, and not the fence itself, to be the most important prominent visual element.

Because you are on a corner lot, I think the south and southeast corners should be more open and inviting than a tall fence/hedge line would allow. The only kind of fences that would work well there are the suggested split rail fence or picket fence (which will require maintenance). Yes, you could plant gardens along the fence line to create an additional 'barrier' but you would still need to be outside with your child. As a mother of three-- I could tell you some horror stories about kids and fences!

Another suggestion is to fence less of the yard. Just enclose the upper lefthand quadrant as a play area for your child.

Molie

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 1:54PM
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greendale(6B)

First thanks for all the replies. I will google mentioned fence types to get a better idea.

Keep the kid in the back yard is one of the but not the only reason for the fence/hedge. Our daughter actually is not an adventure type - so even if we have a row of small tree and tell her to stay inside, she will do so. BUT with an enclosed fence, it is more a peace of mind to say maybe we can leave her alone in the backyard while we hop between in house and out. We also want some privacy - there are 3 houses on the south side of the road plus the passed cars.
We also thought about put a fence and then grow some vine (like Ivy) to climb on the fence - but read about the fence will soon be deteriorated by the plant. The lot is not large - it's only about 0.3 acre. So an informal hedge might not feasible plus an informal hedge looks unmaintained if did not planned right.

>>What kind of trees are they?
Honestly I do not know. I only know the tree on the top left(North west) corner is an evergreen tree, others are deciduous. They are many years trees and very tall

>>Do you like the look of less formal hedges that are made up of a variety of different species?
Thought about that too, but... reason see above

>>Would you consider a picket fence or other open, decorative fence rather than the solid gray boring wall you might be considering?
Since privacy also a consideration, we need to plant tree beside the open fence too. So cost is also a factor to consider

>>What direction is north?
Top side is north

>>Ignoring the kid, what would you do?
Still want to put up a fence or tree hedge for privacy, more like tree hedge want more green around

>>In the long run a hedge is not practical
You mean it will become a duty you might hated to keep the hedge looking good? Unless you enjoy doing it?

>>In time, it would become a huge, boring green 'wall' that would hide the house.
Hah, I never thought about that. I would not think it will hide the house though, it won't be that huge, will it?

>>Fence line A would not be a good choice because it will 'enclose' the house and make it look prison-like. You want the beauty of the home, and not the fence itself, to be the most important prominent visual element
I honestly did not think about that, (enclose the house), it is a good point though. But on another hand, I did not think the side view of our house is that pretty (maybe I need to start appreciated it from now on) and I wanted more acre in my (now fenced) backyard so that I can put more craps in there :)

>>Because you are on a corner lot, I think the south and southeast corners should be more open and inviting than a tall fence/hedge line would allow
good point here too. And I think that's the reason the lot 3 did not have any fence on the south and west side. But that's the only property that does not have fence, all others (lot 4, 5, 6 (to the right side of 5) and my north neighbor) have fenced yard

>>Just enclose the upper lefthand quadrant as a play area for your child.
That would not work as it is too small, we need the whole back yard to throw balls and to run

What the choices of trees for a hedge/ as plants for a boundary - I am not very good at tree names, I saw a lot property with nice tree hedges but never cared to know what kind of trees that they are using.

From aesthetics perspective, we think hedge would be much better. But not sure about from cost and improve the property value perspective, which one is the winner.

Again, thanks a lot

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 10:35PM
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NHBabs z4b-5a NH

Thanks for such thorough care in answering questions. Can you take photos of your trees, including as close as you can get to the leaves or needles and at least one from a distance and then post them? What kind of trees you have and their size will influence what you can grow. If you don't know how to post photos, look at the FAQ link for posting photos at the top of the forum, or just post a link to them online.

Take pictures of hedges you like and probably some of us can offer specific suggestions. I think whether a hedge vs a fence looks good or adds value depends on many factors, including the neighborhood context, the home's architecture, and the condition of the fence or hedge (so the growing conditions are important). Individual buyers will have different preferences, so you should probably do what you want since value is often in the eyes of the beholder (having just spent the last year getting my mom's house prepared and sold.) Some photos of the house, yard, trees and adjoining fences and hedges will help you get concrete suggestions.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 10:02AM
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molie(z6 CT)

This is a great time of year to walk, or drive, around the neighborhood looking at other landscapes that you like. You'll get to see what grows well in your area. Plus you'll see things that have been growing for a while and probably look very different than the smaller specimens on a nursery lot. People out working in their yards are often very willing to share information about their plants.

Along with any photos you could post, it would be helpful to know how much sun your yard gets during the day and the kind of soil ( clay, sandy, humus-filled, etc.) in your yard. If those 2 big trees in the front and the one on the south side have been pruned high off the ground over the years, you should get good morning/afternoon sun, but I couldn't guess about the west side. The soil conditions and the amount of sun really affect what can be grown well.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 12:17PM
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diggingthedirt

For privacy, I'd recommend an informal deciduous (non-evergreen) hedge that doesn't really need trimming - mixed plantings in curving/overlapping rows of shrubs like lilac, viburnum, paniclulata hydrangeas, weigela... - staggered heights, with a few small trees, possibly all of one type, to give some sense of continuity, here and there in between the shrubs.

These shrubs are not expensive - if you're willing to do the work and wait awhile for the results; you'd need to prep the soil well, install soaker hoses on timers, plant small shrubs and mulch them carefully, and you would have a nice shrub border that would provide privacy in a few seasons.

Personally, I don't worry about privacy during winter, because I don't spend any time relaxing or entertaining in the yard after the leaves fall.

For security you could start with an inexpensive wire-on-wood fence; we have that along our side borders to keep the dog in the yard. The wire can't be seen now that the shrubs have filled in, and we installed it ourselves for very little money. It works as well as chain link, but is less obtrusive - mainly because it does not need to be set in a straight line.

Very rarely will a fence provide privacy - I have a 6' tall stockade fence (solid wood, in other words) along the back of my lot, and I can see over it from most points in the yard. So, I've been trying to get tall shrubs and small trees to grow along it for many years.

Are there any town regulations about maintaining visibility around the street corners? That might be a good reason to use the "B" line instead of "A". Personally, though, I like fences and other features in my yard to line up with something - like your line A does. A fence along line B would appear to be randomly placed, to my eye.

By the way, welcome to the forum, and please keep us posted as you decide what you're going to do.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 5:10PM
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greendale(6B)

Yes, I will try to get some photos of the trees - but not in the near future, the house is not ready yet - probably a month later. I just wanted to plan ahead. Take the photo of the hedges that I like also a good idea - won't that that look weird for property owners?

Good to know that even the stockade fence can be look through - I would imaging you have to be very close to the fence to do so? :)

Evergreen hedge would work better - we have some green to look at in the long code winter.

Thanks, will be update with photos.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 9:27PM
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