and their clients are thinking outside the fence and
fences use trees, bushes and a mixture of plants to
create a privacy wall instead of the traditional wooden
a trip to France and England, Bill Mabe, a retired
financial executive, and his wife, Kathy, an executive
at Allstate, noticed that many people there used a
variety of greens to create privacy and outdoor living
rooms and gardens. They decided to replicate the look in
their sprawling New Albany, Ohio, backyard.
landscaper created a mix of bushes and trees to enclose
their outdoor eating area, planted another set of trees
and plants along the outdoor walking path and more to
line their backyard for privacy.
Mabe said the results were glorious.
think what I like about it is the privacy, but we also
have a tremendous amount of height, and itís like you
have very high ceilings," he said.
wooden, iron and other metal fences are traditional,
green fences appear to be gaining steam at a time when
natural and sustainable options are trending.
fences also have the extra bonus of requiring little
maintenance after the first year of installation, said
Ohio landscape designer Nick McCullough.
the appropriate site, it will need water and nutrients
in the soil, and you can trim them if you want depending
on the style, but it doesnít need much maintenance
once itís installed," McCullough said. In the
first year, he said, the trees need to get established,
which includes extra watering and soil checks.
itís a good site, it will outlive us," McCullough
wooden fence, on the other hand, may need to be stained
or repainted every few years and eventually will need to
fences also donít tend to have height restrictions,
said Jennifer Hoxsie, design manager at Greenhaven
fences are often limited by municipal height constraints
and are not allowed within certain (homeowners
associations)," Hoxsie said. "Naturalistic and
hedged plantings can be a great way to achieve the
functional separation the client desires that is
beautiful to look at, while meeting municipal and HOA
a home that she did in Glencoe, Hoxsie wanted to screen
a neighborís large house from her clientís entry. A
standard fence could only be built 4 feet high in the
front yard, which wouldnít have been effective.
we installed a 17-foot spruce along the border, and
layered plantings in front Ö to create a beautiful
green fence," Hoxsie said.
could have been another option for that space, she said.
key is figuring out which types of plantings would go
well with the design of your landscape, and making sure
they would do well in your climate. In some regions,
green fences must be able to survive a hot and a cold
National Association of Landscape Professionals said
hedges are popular for green fences because they can
screen views, reduce noise and create many different
types of private spaces.
considering different types of plants, you should choose
those that provide a significant width, so that the
fence is dense and hard to penetrate. Height is also
important to consider ó the fence should contain
foliage from top to bottom, according to the
offer year-round coverage. For height, juniper and
arborvitae are good options, said Tony Butterworth,
senior designer with Christy Webber Landscapes and a
member of the National Association of Landscapes.
also likes Carpinus (American hornbeam), which is narrow
and upright, and great for creating a screen. They do
lose their leaves in the winter, but, he said, youíll
use your yard less in the winter, and when the trees
lose their leaves, youíll gain light in your home, so
itíll be a win-win.
fences do have a downside.
No. 1 reason to have a fence is to solidify boundaries,
and if you put a hedge up, itís not the most
impenetrable fence," Butterworth said. "Even
if itís higher, itís not a great barrier, and if you
have kids or dogs, itís not a great barrier."
of his clients compromise by putting up an iron fence
and then placing greenery in front of it to soften or
even hide the fence.
way, the kids and the dogs donít cross into your
neighborís space, but the backyard still maintains a