A couple of weeks ago I shared how I refreshed a tired fence, and now I’m back to tell you how I covered up the refinished fence with vines and flowers. I love foliage and will happily plant a tree or bush or shrub or vine anywhere and everywhere outside. So, while I covered up my freshly stained fence, I’m v pleased with my wall of leaves and flowers.
Wanna see how I did it? It’s so easy that I maybe shouldn’t even bother with this blog post, but here I am.
To see the process in action and in brief (2 minutes and free of narration) watch the handy video below, then scroll down to read through the step-by-step).
What you’ll need:
Vine that thrives in your climate
Straight edge ruler or measuring tape
Natural twine (optional)
1. Select a vine
I debated this for awhile but ultimately decided on a Anacana pink morning glory. I chose this plant because it’s a native variety (other varieties are considered invasive). It doesn’t need much water and its adored by the pollinating insects in my region. It also produces beautiful bright green leaves, grows like crazy, and has delicate white and pink flowers.
I kinda wish I planted passion fruit vine because it would have yielded an edible fruit and the flowers are insanely cool looking, but it needs more water than the morning glory. I also considered jasmine which smells delicious, but it looks nearly dead for a good portion of the year in my region.
We have a narrow area between the cars and fence, so we weren’t able to espalier a tree and we avoided any vines that had thorns to prick us while getting in and out of the car.
2. Decide on a vine trailing shape
For slow-growing vines and espalier trees, you can create designs and shapes to train the plants to grow on. I almost did this but I’m glad I didn't because the morning glory grows so fast that it would have covered up the design within a matter of months. So, I just did horizontal lines to give the vines support as they grew and gained weight.
3. Create a nice canvas for the vines
The beauty of this project is you can cover up something ugly (a neighbor’s gross fence, cinderblock, the side of a garage, etc.) but even if you don’t want to look at what’s behind the plants, it’s good for it to have a solid foundation. Now is the time to remove any termite-filled wood, reinforce the foundation, and stain materials that could decay without weatherproofing. I covered all of that in this post.
4. Measure and drill
I decided to make three rows of wire for the vines to climb on. While they don’t need to be perfectly level, I wanted them to not be completely wonky. Instead of measuring from the uneven ground, I propped my straight edge ruler on the bottom rail of the fence, then marked intervals up the sides of the posts roughly equidistant. Then, I used my trusty drill to make pilot holes.
5. Install screw eyes
First things first - use bigger screw eyes than I did (aim for 1” screw eyes). I used what I had on hand and should have gone out to buy bigger ones that wouldn’t fall out of the wood after the weight of the vines pulled on them after a couple of years. (This is the beauty of blogging about things I did two years ago - I’ve learned my lessons, so you can too!). So, do as I say, not as I do.
Screw in the eyes into the pilot holes. To drive them in, inserts a screwdriver into the eye and twist to get some torque. I recommend tightening only one end of the wire - keep the other end loose for now.
6. Install wire
Simply thread the wire through the eye, then twist it around itself to secure. Be sure to use a wire that can withstand the weight of the vines and use galvanized wire so it doesn’t rust. I probably could have used a thicker gauge wire than what you see pictured, so again - do as I say not as I do.
First, wrap the wire around the super secure screw eye, then wrap it around the one that isn’t as tightly installed. Try to make the wire as taught as you easily can. Once the wire is tightly twisted on itself you can drive the looser eye into the fence to secure it. By tugging on the wire as the screw gets driven in, it creates more tension on the wire and thus makes it more taught.
7. Wrap vine around wire
I planted my vines and let them grow for a few months before installing the wire, so it had long limbs to train. You can plant the plant or install the wires first, but just make sure you aren’t yanking on your baby plant if the vines are too short to train to the wires. Once they have long enough legs to reach the wires, you can gently wrap them around the wire. The vines have tendrils that will naturally grow and wrap around objects that they find, but this initial wrap that you do on the wires is to teach them where to go. Aim to fill in as much of the fence as you can, guiding the plant up, down, and to each side.
If your vines are heavy or you’re stretching them high up, you can give it support by making a hammock with a piece of string. Just tie a big loop around the vine and a piece of wire to let the plant have some more support. Don’t tie it tightly! Use a piece of natural twine so it can just degrade into nothing over time rather than using a plastic-based piece of yarn that will become litter.
8. Fuss with the vines as the plant grows
It will look funny at first. But, as the plant grows, it will start to fill in and will grab ahold of other vines or wires to hold onto. I still venture out to train the vines to grow in directions I prefer. If I leave them to their own devices, the vines will climb over the fence and wrap around the neighbor’s garbage can or up their tree. I like to coach them to not stick out in the driveway, not consume the neighbor’s house, and to fill in empty spots near the ground.
Enjoy the greenery, the flowers, the fruit, or just enjoy not looking at what might be an ugly fence. Be sure to water and feed the vine per its desired feedings based on your climate.
Here’s a view of those vines off to the right side of the driveway with the context of the rest of the garden. Just look at how plump those plants have gotten. I love the greenery they provide between the houses as seen from the street and I especially love that they give us lovely lushness to admire out the windows on the south side of the house.