What should I plant to hide my Fence?

karen_canadaApril 26, 2007

Hi, This is my first post here. I have been lurking for a little while though.This is a great forum.

I was wondering what to plant to hide my fence. We put up a six foot fence in the fall for a bit of privacy but mainly to keep the dogs in the yard.Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks Karen

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Hi Karen. How much sun would it get? The two vines that come to mind are Trumpet vine and Virginia creeper. Both of these vines like sun. The Trumpet vine has orange tube shaped flowers on it and the hummingbirds like it and the Virginia Creeper has green foliage that turns red in the fall when the frost hits it. I have a VC that climbs up the neighbors semi dead pine tree. I say semi dead because only the top 2' is green! The rest is dead branches. When the VC turns red in the fall it is quite attractive. These are just 2 suggestions, there is also the Dutchmans Pipe, clematis, roses, etc. I'm sure you'll get lots of other suggestions. The roses would be nice if you want something flowering. Hope this gives you some ideas. Marg

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 8:40AM
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glen3a(Winnipeg MB 3A)

I'm not sure trumpet vine (campsis) would do good as it's generally hardy to zone 5 and Karen's profile says zone 4. I may be wrong though.

Are we talking about hiding a chain link fence, or is it wooden? If chain link you probably need something that's really dense so that you can't see through. Virginia creeper is good, dropmore scarlet honeysuckle vine will bloom off and on during summer and fill the area too. Clematis is a good idea especially some of the smaller flower ones (they tend to be more vigourous and quicker growing then the big flowered ones). There is also hops vine, but that might overgrow an area and need constant pruning.

Another way to hide the fence might be to plant a hedge of cedars in front, the tall narrow type such as smargd/emerald or brandon. Of course they need more space in front of the fence than, say, a vine would.

If you do plant a vine you might also want to plant a few seeds of an annual climbing vine, such as hyacinth bean or scarlet runner bean. The perennial vine you plant (such as virginia creeper) might not fill up the entire fence the first year, it needs to establish it's root system. In the meantime, an annual vine like climbing bean will fill in the trellis this summer.


    Bookmark   April 28, 2007 at 12:25AM
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Thanks for the great information Marg and Glen. Now I feel I have somewhere to start.To answer some of your questions I do get full sun on almost all of the fence except where a large tree overhangs. The fence is wood.I live in Sault Ste.Marie,On and I am not exactly sure what zone I am in,still a newbie to gardening.Karen

    Bookmark   April 28, 2007 at 10:23AM
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Hi, Karen.
Thought I would show you this photo from last summer of Virginia Creeper that is planted around our covered deck. Takes a few years to get established but provides a wonderful screen - cool and private. I do have to trim it back a couple of times during the summer to keep it where I want it rather than where it wants to be :-)
Lovely in the fall when it changes colour and the birds love the berries! Should grow well in your area; you are probably in much the same zone as us in Thunder Bay.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 9:31AM
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Oh wow that is beautiful, you have a nice spot to relax, Thanks for posting the picture Margaret.
So how many plants do you have to plant to get it to look like that? I would love to have all that color in the fall.
I went to the Garden Centre yesterday and the lady told me they should have Virginia Creeper in the next week or two.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 5:43PM
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Sorry, not sure how many plants are there....we bought the house four years ago and at that time the VC was halfway up the 'wall' on the left. Summer before last, I started pulling it over the opening in the centre of the photo. Last summer, it actually covered the entire 'window' opening on the right side of the photo.
VC is quite prolific but I find it easy enough to keep under control and love it as a living wall.
Warning - it does get what I'm told is whitefly (tiny flies that seem to only fly around when the vine is disturbed). Not a problem for us as it is far enough from the table and other seating that we don't notice it; shouldn't be a problem if used on a fence. Others on the forum might have more experience in dealing with whitefly, though.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 7:53PM
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Hi Karen:
You and I are in the same boat - I am also trying to cover up a fence that I installed for my dogs. My problem is that everything I think will work, I have checked into and is toxic for dogs. I don't know if you have dogs that chew or are curious, but I would download a list off the web and make sure what you plant is something that will be OK for dogs too. Like I said, I am still researching, but some of the things that I was going to buy to hide the fence (or already did and now have to transplant) that are toxic are:
-morning glory
-bleeding heart
-boston ivy and english ivy - i've heard a lot of ivy are toxic
-castor bean vine
-clematis (this makes me sad because it took me a couple of years to be successful with this plant - this spring it is taking off, but I have to move it because I read all parts are deadly to dogs)
also: a lot of people plant rhododendron and azeleas in front of fences....both toxic to dogs - so mine must be moved. I had no idea the plants that are so toxic. In most cases it is the bulbs so they would have to be diggers (which one of mine is) but in other cases, all parts - leaves and all- can be very very bad. I would offer you more detailed info, but I am still researching and trying to learn myself. Let me know what you find out and
please forward any information you get on how to best cover a fence in a dog-friendly way....in fact, the whole reason I subscribed to this website was to research just that! :)

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 2:26AM
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Judy_B_ON(Ontario 5B)

Kathy: Do you dogs eat vines? Maybe you are worrying needlessly.

Karen and Kathy: Do you really need to hide your fences? Are they that ugly? Maybe the easy answer to safety for the dogs is to learn to love the fence the way it is.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 11:25PM
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Hi Judy:
I never really worried about this issue with my older dog but our new dog is such a digger and chewer! He carried away some poison ivy vines this weekend and thought they would make great chew toys while I wasn't looking - not harmful for him, but potentially for me when he licked me later :). He also took a running dive into my newly planted deck garden and carried away two plants! Gardening season is supposed to be my relaxation therapy, but this year it's giving me some angst....ha ha! He is still young (10 months and in training) but I just don't want him to kick off by eating foxglove when I'm not looking and while I'm still trying to get him trained :) We are in a relatively new house and completely redoing the landscaping - and after watching this guy eat a cell phone, I decided to do some research on dogs and gardening - and some of the things I found really surprised me. So...yes, I guess, I might be overreacting - I have a three-year old dog who has never kicked off from chewing on anything - and I have grown up with dogs who not only ate plants but chocolate and they made it. But this new guy in the house seems to not have the greatest luck - very accident-prone and doesn't seem to have that natural sense to know that eating my loofah might make him..um.constipated at the very least? ha
So, for the initial planting this year I was looking to make it dog-safe, nerve-calming and fence-prettying (much of the fence is a black chain-link - cedar in the front for most of those who drive in and don't go in the yard, but we couldn't afford to do the whole 1/3 of an acre of this part of the property in cedar). I have plenty of room on the rest of the property for planting fun (and toxic plants :) But for the dog area, I was looking for 'safe for the dog' plants and I was trying to create a haven for them to have fun in. I actually just ordered, among other things, a lot of ornamental grasses that would give them shade and fun places to romp.
any other suggestions are welcome- my space is an open canvas right now so I need suggestions :)
and I'll let you know if he eats any vines - and this guy just might. He's like no other dog I have tried to train :)

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 1:19AM
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Hi Karen and Kathy

I'm in exactly the same boat. I just read that Virginia Creeper is poisonous too. I have two dogs. I think they would both munch on the leaves of whatever vine I pick. I want something fast-growing and evergreen for my fence. I am heading to a nursery tonight with my list of toxic plants in hand. Hopefully I'll find something. I'm so glad I found this website! It's great. I'll keep you posted.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 4:53PM
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Hey Pam40
did you find anything interesting in your pursuit of non-toxic plants safe for dogs on your visit to the nursery?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2007 at 12:59AM
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Hi Kathy,

I had my heart set on Virginia Creeper. Some websites said it was toxic, and some didn't. I was confused, so I called my vet and asked him about it. He said he had never heard of any pet getting sick from it. It wasn't listed in his book as toxic. So, I went out and bought some Virginia Creeper and planted it. I am keeping an eye on my dogs,and so far, they are totally ignoring it. Hope it grows fast and furious! I love the look of it. Good luck with your planting!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2007 at 12:03PM
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Hi everyone thanks for all the responses.I bought a Virginia creeper and started some sweet peas and scarlet runners.I am not sure when it is safe to plant them outside though.I am not worried about my dogs eating any plants, my little terrier mix is 14 years old and not interested at all and my 1 year old golden doodle loves to sniff the flowers but thats it.Judy its not that the fence is ugly its just boring.It is a 6ft wooden fence with a lattice top.The side of the yard I am concerned about is where the dogs play, as of right now there are no plants on this side of the yard it is so boring. This is also the part our deck overlooks so I want to put some color and interest there without taking to much space away from the dogs. So any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2007 at 11:16PM
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Another option is a hardy kiwi vine. I saw them at a local nursery two years ago and they were very pretty. They had sivery grey variegated leaves and were hardy to zone 3 (where I live).

    Bookmark   May 18, 2007 at 8:33PM
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clairabelle(z4 Quebec)

Hey, some great ideas here. I second the actinidia kolomikta (ornemental kiwi), the foliage is simply loverly! (prefers partial shade)

Two suggestions: climbing hydrangea periolaris (off-white flowers) and thladiantha dubia Eva (tough to beat, lots of yellow bell flowers, grows fast the 1rst year).

Why not plant tall perennials instead of climbers to hide the fence? Van Houtte spirea bush (long white-flowered arcs), Aruncus dioicus (off-white plumes), tall ornemental grasses in the Miscanthus family, Heliopsis (Summer Sun is a good one; eggyolk-colored daisies), Delphiniums (tall flower stalks, various shades of blue), Rudbeckia (purple or yellow, bird-friendly), even tall Weigelias (Carnival, for example, grows to 6 ft. + more, with variegated --2-tone-- foliage and generous flowering season).

    Bookmark   May 23, 2007 at 11:25AM
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clairabelle(z4 Quebec)

You know, you can always add planters hanging directly from the fence to fill in some of the spots... the effect can be stunning and there are lots of easy, drought-tolerant annuals out there for planters in full sun (just ask, we'll all provide suggestions!) :D
Good luck Bonne chance!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2007 at 11:28AM
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I have Virginia Creeper as ground cover in my yard, and didn't think anything of it. My dog munched on it last night and today she is miserable, puking, and lethargic. So in regards to your debate, my dog, Heidi, thinks this isn't safe for dogs.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 2:14PM
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Hey Shawn, That's terrible about your dog. Hope she's okay. Even if my dogs eat too much grass they puke. A lot of our backyard stuff probably isn't great for dogs to eat.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 3:51PM
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I had a fence built (in full sun) so I could plant climbing vines on it. We are looking for something that is dense and permanent, maybe wisteria. We thought of hops too, but they die back. The virginia creeper looks nice, does it live through the winter? We don't have dogs, but 2 little girls, are these plants dangerous to kids too? Any suggestions would be great. The planters are a great idea-thanks!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2007 at 6:11PM
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What about clematis. The fence will show in winter but clematis are very showy and do grow fast. I have 5 diff colours of alpinas on my fence, small flowers but the seeds are so pretty all winter.


    Bookmark   July 24, 2007 at 8:22PM
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Another Karen here. What a great forum! Everyone is talking about what I want to hear. I also want to grow something safe for my dogs along their fence. The fence is along my alley and I'd like the privacy, but more importantly I'd like to have something there that my dogs could eat. They are escape artists so they only get a few minutes to run around the yard. It's not really enough time to eat grass. I've always been told dogs need grass in their diet. So I'm looking for something that could take the place of grass and provide privacy.


    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 10:39PM
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What about climbing vegetables? I too have a new 6x42' chain link fence at the back of my property (to contain dogs) that I'd like to hide, at least for the summer. All of my research has given me much the same info as all these posts. I only want to hide a 30' section near the meditation garden - just to make it more peaceful. My Whippets are notorious "tasters". Any thoughs? Thank you.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2010 at 9:32AM
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hardy kiwi can be an option... it's a climber, it's hardy as the name implies, just needs water... virtually non invasive when maintained properly... and only the female plants produce fruits when pollinated by the male flowers... if you do wind up with the fruits, they resemble tiny little kiwi's and are fully edible like grapes...

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 6:10PM
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i realize this is totally late, and most likely irrelevant to the poster right now, but while doing my own search for a non-toxic vine for my own dogs, i came across this site in one of my searches, and hopefully an added reference might help someone else in the future who may face the same issue...

and in regards to the honeysuckle being toxic or not, it depends on the species of the plant... some are, most are not.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 6:16PM
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My suggestion would be Rose of Sharon
Which is a shrub and hardy and takes little care. It flowers more than a month and the flowers are either blue, pink, or white and shades of each of those colours

I have a five foot fence I guess it is or maybe six foot fence.
I planted 20 of these three years ago and they are now almost as high as the fence. It is a wooden fence. Have been flowering for at least a month and will continue to flower until frost

They are an eye catcher and I notice people walking by, we have a lot of walkers in my neigbhourhood, stoping and talking about the hedge.

Now in spring and until maybe June, it looks as though the plants did not make it through winter. Still dormant, but that is what they are, late bloomers. Just be patient and slowly the leaves begin to show and open.
I will prune mine some this fall or maybe wait til spring. To make them thicker.

I had Rose of Sharon at my previous property and it had matured and looked very good.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 6:47AM
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Also try clematis tangutica-beautiful vine with beautiful yellow flowers and cotton seed heads. The dropmore honeysuckle vine is also a good choice. Try some of the other hardy clematis like Jackmani-purple flowers, our Alberta native Clematis ligusticifolia. These are all hardy to zone 3 and some to zone 2.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 8:44PM
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clematis are listed as being toxic to dogs, and so are rose of sharon's, not to mention ROS's are not even vines... which defeats the purpose of the poster question...

now allbeit, most plants listed as "toxic" to dogs won't kill your dog outright... most are not toxic to the extreme point... but they're still not "good" for your dog to digest if they do chew on 'em... they could cause diarreah, nausea, or they could have more none visible effects that take time but maybe hard on their kidneys, or other functions within their body, slowly killing or weakening them over time...

the poster said they were in search of a plant that's NON-toxic... and hardy kiwi's are a climbing vine that is just that, NON-toxic; and best part, if you plant just males you won't even have to worry about the fruits at all... plant a female in your garden, and you get mini-kiwi's you can use in smoothies and such...

i'm actually planting a bunch around our chain link fence myself this spring for the same purpose... keep the dogs from getting distracted so easily by everything around 'em... like i said in my above post, i too had alot of trouble finding a true non-toxic "vine" to hide our fence, esp. one that could surely thrive in my zone (6B) with no worries...

now hardy kiwi's are not found on either list by the ASPCA, but i assure you that they are non-toxic... a perfect hardy "true-vine" for someone attempting to "hide" their chain link fence...
(i'm going with the "artic beauty" types)...

Here is a link that might be useful: ASPCA's list of plants toxic and non-toxic to dogs...

    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 3:00PM
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