Growing vines on fences

How to Beautify and Hide Your Chain-link Fence

The chain-link fence is one of the most versatile and widely used fence systems today, but it is not always very attractive. While newer options have become a bit more colorful and stylish in the past few years, , this won’t help you if you’re dealing with a preexisting fence. If your fence has become an eyesore, or even if you simply don’t like the look of it, you need to find a way to beautify it, disguise it, or hide it all together.

The following options are several ways to do this. None necessarily work better than others and whichever fence face lift works best for you will depend on your yard and your tastes. For example, if you want to make the fence more attractive but are not concerned with hiding it, painting it or using fence slats are both good choices. However if you want to hide it, rolled wood fencing, a veil of vines, or some types of fence slats will be better choices.

Take the time to explore your options before you make your choice. Often, several methods can be used in conjunction with one another, which will give you the best results.


Painting a chain-link fence is probably the quickest and cheapest method of improving its appearance. Unless it’s vinyl-coated, chain link should be a relatively easy item to paint. Vinyl-coated chain-link fencing can be painted, but it should only be done by a qualified professional. While you can paint your fence any color, choosing a shade like black, dark green, or brown should make it less noticeable and blend into the background.

Before you start painting, make sure you clean the fence and remove any rust with a wire brush. If there is any rust on the fence, apply a rust-inhibiting metal primer before painting. You should also mow the lawn, cut back any plants that border the fence, and use a tarp to cover the ground around the fence to catch any drips. Follow the primer with high-quality exterior enamel paint.

For best results, use a roller with a 1 to 1 1/2-inch nap to cover the chain mesh and a brush to paint the fence posts and hardware. Although spraying it might give you a good finish, it can be difficult to control the overspray.

Fence Slats

If you are looking for a way to spruce up a chain-link fence while also making it more private, fence slats make a good choice. Fence slats are long pieces of aluminum, polyethylene, or wood that you insert into the fence vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. They are quick and easy to install. Even better, they are available in a wide variety of colors, which gives you the ability to create patterns and designs by alternating the colored slats in the fence. You can also create a monochrome look by painting your fence the same color as your slats.
Before shopping for fence slats, you need to know the height of your fence along with the chain mesh’s size and the gauge of the wire used to create it. Chain-link mesh is measured diagonally in both directions using the inside dimension. The two most common mesh sizes are 2-inch mesh, which is usually made with a 9 or 11 gauge wire, and 2 1/4 or 2 3/8-inch, which is usually made with 11 1/2, 12, or 12 1/2-gauge wire.
Slats can either be top locking, bottom locking, or self-locking. Top-locking and bottom-locking slats have a channel that slips through the slots at the top or bottom of the fence to help secure them; self-locking slats do not. There are many different types of slats. Different types will have different degrees of wind load and privacy factors. Most have at least a 75 percent to 80 percent wind load and privacy factor, although some slats are available with higher numbers. A few even offer 100 percent privacy.
If you want to disguise your fence, consider purchasing fence slats that are made to simulate the look of a hedge. The slats are made of wire inserts that are covered with green “needles” made from flame-retardant PVC. These simulated hedges are amazingly durable and usually come with a 10-year manufacturer warranty.

Rolled Wood Fencing

If you want to hide your chain-link fence all together, rolled wood fencing is your best option. Rolled wood fencing comes in a variety of materials including cane bamboo, willow, stick, reed, dwarf pine, fern, and twig. These fences are made up of pieces of wood held together with galvanized wire, which are sold rolled up. They come in a variety of heights up to 8 feet high and are easy to attach to any existing chain-link fence with special ties or wire. Once attached, they will generally offer total privacy and give a natural feel to your garden while hiding your chain-link fence. This option could be expensive and not as long lasting as some other options. The fence’s longevity will depend on the type of material used.

Continue to Part 2: Hide Your Fence with Annual and Perennial Vines >

Sometimes useful things are ugly. I don’t like ugly things. The general rule for me is that things should be USEFUL or BEAUTIFUL and 90% should be BOTH. In fact, I have gathered my DIY postings into those categories because that is truly how I think of things when I make or buy them. Is it gorgeous? Is it super useful? Is it useful AND beautiful? If the answer is yes, then it can stay. If it is ugly, it goes (unless it is something super useful like a toothbrush or a bottle of mouthwash). If it is useless it goes (unless it is beautiful like silly paper garlands). If it isn’t a strong collaboration of the two is goes. For example, the skewer sticks are ugly in their packaging, but beautiful stored in a glass pitcher. So, the pitcher and skewers stay, the packaging goes. You get it, right??

So what happens when you need something that is very useful, but it is just hideous in your eyes?
Enter a chain link fence. Stage right.
In some cases, you can just remove the fence, and have a beautified space, but sometimes those fences are necessary. Ours surrounds the pool and if I could put up barbed wire 6 foot fences around it to keep kiddies away, I just might. For now, the chain link fence and a series of latches and locks keeps it safe, but oh how it still scares me…(the pool…not the fence…)…and don’t even start telling me to get rid of the pool – it is the most wonderful thing all summer long and we spend half our days out there 🙂
Anyway, you have your ugly fence, and you need to keep it and appreciate its functionality, but hate the look. Here are a few tips for making it look a little less ugly.
Buy a green fence, or paint it green. If your fence is anywhere near lawn or plants, it is going to disappear a bit if it is green, right? Right. If your fence is in the middle of a bunch of pavement, then you have bigger problems than an ugly fence, and silver or grey will blend right in.
Chain Link fences are perfect for plants because a) they are absolutely perfect for climbing plants and b) they can help deliver nitrogen to your plants. Climbing plants climb by twirling around supports or gripping onto them, and the size and design of a chain link fence is perfect for both. I planted a clematis and have a climbing rose on my fence, but need many many many more! The clematis is especially perfect because it weaves its way in and out of the links, blooms beautifully and then leaves these wonderful little poofy seed pods.

So what about the nitrogen?
Lightning fixes the nitrogen in the air making it available to plants as nitrogen oxides. When your plants are hanging on and planted under a metal chain link fence, the chances of attracting lightning are quite high and while you don’t want to be around if lightning is anywhere near your metal fence, the plants will love the extra nitrogen. They gobble it up and put on new growth the next day. Gardeners are known to string copper wire around their tomato plants and cabbage patches to harness this benefit for their plants. At the moment though, if we could get just a drop of rain, I believe the plants would be happy. It is so blisteringly hot and humid, but without a hint of rain OR lightning. Poor plants…
So what is the third thing you can do to hide your fence? well easy…you ummm…
Your fence is already green, so the next step is adding more beautiful green plants to help break up the prison look of mile after mile of metal links. One of my favorites for a chain link fence is a hibiscus plant. They are tough, they come cheap on clearance at any nursery or big box store, and they are easy to propagate. …AND they have GORGEOUS blooms. GORGEOUS!
Of course mine have not bloomed quite yet, so I have nary a photo to show, but even the buds are quite nice…see?

Hibiscus sends of new shoots every spring in a cluster straight up from the ground. The stems are strong, yet flexible, so they are perfect for a chain link fence because they weave themselves on either side of the fence, camouflaging both sides from view. They grow about 3-5 foot tall generally and are the perfect base plant for your fence. To propagate the plants, simply chop off a cutting and root it or layer your plant. (Just click those green links for the how to articles!) I layer a stem or two each year to create a bank of them along one side of my fence.
After you have a climber and some base plants (like clematis and hibiscus), a few large, tall anchor plants give variety to your plantings. My favorite is this old fashioned mallow. I have no idea what variety it is, but it is a large, beautiful plant that is hardy as all get out. It is a relative of the hibiscus, so the blooms are similar, but are only about 3″-5″ wide as opposed to the huge dinner plate sized hibiscus.

As I mentioned, my fence is around a pool, so my plants are a bit more tropical by design. Along with white clematis, hibiscus and mallow, I also use large green and varigated grasses, red flowering cannas, various evergreen bushes and red climbing roses. If your fence serves a different purpose you could certainly substitute other plants such as these:
Climbers: rose, clematis, sweet peas, peas, ivy, cup and saucer vine, trumpet vine (be careful…this one is beautiful, but invasive)
Foundation: Hydrangea, various conifer shrubs in rounded habits, daylilies, peonies, Montauk daisies, holly
Tall Accents: annual sunflowers, hollyhock, cannas, grasses, various conifers with vertical habits…the list could go on and on and on…
Do you have any good tips for covering up an eyesore??

10 New Fruit Trees and Edible Vines for Your Garden This Spring

The world of fruit is far more expansive and exciting — not to mention flavorful — than the dozen or so varieties on offer at your local supermarket would suggest. Ever try a translucent white mulberry? How about a jujube — the fruit, not the candy?

You’re unlikely to find any of these fruits at your local grocer or farmers’ market. It’s not because they’re hard to grow — most of them are actually easier to raise at home than disease-prone fruits like peaches and cherries. The reason you won’t find them for sale has more to do with the constraints of commercialization — they score low on metrics like yield per acre and shippability.

But those issues won’t matter in your backyard, where a single tree is likely to yield more than your family can eat and the only travel the fruit must endure is the short journey from garden to kitchen. Your local garden center may be able to special order the varieties below, but if not, you can easily find them online from mail-order nurseries.

1. White mulberry

Dried white mulberries are occasionally found in health stores, where they are sold as a “superfood” at astronomical prices. The fresh fruit, which is produced in copious quantities on small, attractive trees that are used to cultivate silkworms in Asia, has a less acidic flavor profile than its dark-colored counterpart. There are several white-fruited mulberry varieties available, including Tehama, Beautiful Day and Sweet Lavender, which is graced with a hint of this beloved herb’s flavor. USDA zones 4–9.

2. Jujube

This Chinese fruit, which resembles a small red apple, gave its name to the popular candy. Jujubes can be eaten raw, but they are consumed dried in Asia, which gives them a chewy, candy-like texture that goes with their satisfying sweet-sour flavor. They grow on spindly, thorny trees with a narrow, upright growth habit. Highly drought tolerant, jujube trees thrive in hot, dry areas. USDA zones 5–9.

3. Cider apple

These days, you can find all sorts of interesting heirloom apple varieties at your local farmers’ market. In theory, you can make cider out of any of them. But real cider makers use special varieties that have been bred for centuries with the unique flavor profile suited to the beverage (which is very different from the flavor profile of an apple meant for eating fresh). If home brews are your thing, you might need to grow your own. Varieties to look for include Ashmead’s Kernel, Northern Spy and Muscadet de Dieppe. USDA zones 4–9.

4. Pawpaw

This little-known native fruit is found in isolated patches throughout eastern forests. It is distant cousins with tropical fruits like cherimoya and custard apple, with which it shares an exotic flavor (often described as a cross between banana, pineapple and mango) and a creamy texture. The size of a mango, this fruit grows sparsely on small, slow-growing trees with attractive foliage and a uniform pyramidal shape. Pawpaws are far too finicky for commercial growers, but they’ve garnered a cult-like following among foodies and backyard botanists. USDA zones 5–9.

5. Pineapple guava

The fruit of this small, attractive evergreen tree tastes like, well, a pineapple-flavored guava. Its large red-and-white tropical blossoms are also edible, adding a sweet, cinnamon-like flavor to desserts and summer drinks. The only catch is that pineapple guavas (also known as feijoas) are not cold-hardy. You can grow them outdoors year-round in much of California, southern Texas, Florida and the Deep South, but elsewhere you’ll need to keep them in a pot that can be brought indoors for winter (potted pineapple guavas are easily maintained as small shrubs). USDA zones 8–11.

6. Quince

You might say that quince is so old-school, it’s new again. In past centuries, northern European households were just as likely to grow quince as they were to grow apples and pears, to which the fruit is related. Perhaps its appearance — like a bloated and tumor-laden pear — has something to do with its loss of popularity, plus the fact that you have to cook it to enjoy it. But the flavor is nonpareil: It’s like a baked apple with cinnamon and allspice flavors and a touch of lemon zest. USDA zones 4–9.

7. Loquat

Not to be confused with a kumquat (a type of citrus), a loquat is a distant relative of apples and pears from subtropical parts of Asia. The fruit looks like an apricot, with a similar texture and flavor but tangier. These evergreen trees have decadent tropical foliage and require a warm climate. While they’re not huge trees, they are a bit large to grow in pots and bring indoors for winter. USDA zones 8–10.

8. Arctic kiwifruit

The fuzzy kiwifruit you find at the store requires a mild-winter climate, but this is, by no means, the only kind of kiwifruit available. Arctic kiwifruit (also known as ‘Arctic Beauty’ or ‘Kolomikta Kiwi’) hails from the frigid mountains of Russia and possesses a similar flavor to fuzzy kiwifruit, except that it lacks fuzz and is typically consumed whole, skin and all. This shade-tolerant vine possesses spectacular white-, pink- and green-variegated foliage. USDA zones 3–8.

9. Chocolate vine

Also called akebia, this shade-tolerant vine has delicate lobed foliage and bears vanilla-scented flowers in spring. In summer, sausage-shaped pods appear, which split open when ripe to reveal a soft, white pulp flavored with notes of banana, lychee and passion fruit. Scoop it out like custard, seeds and all, and mix it into fruit salads or simply eat it by the spoonful. The pod is inedible raw but may be cooked like a vegetable. USDA zones 4–9.

10. Maypop

The passion fruit you find in the store requires a subtropical climate, but it has an American cousin that grows wild throughout the eastern part of the country. The vines are nearly identical to their tropical counterparts, with frilly purple and white blossoms up to three inches in diameter. Mix the yellow flesh of the fruit in smoothies, daiquiris and desserts. As a bonus, the leaves of maypop are considered an herbal aphrodisiac. USDA zones 6–10.

How To Plant A Living Fence – Using A Fast Growing Plant To Cover Fence

Covering chain link fences is a common problem for many homeowners. While chain link fencing is inexpensive and easy to install, it does lack the beauty of other kinds of fencing. But, if you take a few minutes to learn how to plant a living fence with a fast growing plant to cover fence sections, you can have a fence that is both lovely and inexpensive.

Covering Chain Link Fences with Plants

There are a few things to consider when covering chain link fences with plants. Before deciding which plant you will use, think about what you would like the plants that grow on fences to accomplish:

  • Do you want flowering vines for fences or foliage vines?
  • Do you want an evergreen vine or a deciduous vine?
  • Do you want an annual vine or a perennial vine?

Each choice is important depending on what you want for your fence.

Flowering Vines for Fences

If you would like to look at flowering vines for fences, you have several choices.

If you would like a fast growing plant to cover the fence, you will want an annual. Some annual flowering vines for fences include:

  • Hops
  • Hyacinth Bean
  • Black-eyed Susan Vine
  • Passion Flower
  • Morning Glory

If you were looking for some perennial flowering vines for fences, these would include:

  • Dutchman’s Pipe
  • Trumpet vine
  • Clematis
  • Climbing Hydrangea
  • Honeysuckle
  • Wisteria

Evergreen and Foliage Plants That Grow on Fences

Evergreen plants that grow on fences can help to keep your fence looking lovely all year round. They can also help add winter interest to your garden or serve as a backdrop to your other plants. Some evergreen vines for covering chain link fences include:

  • Persian Ivy
  • English Ivy
  • Boston Ivy
  • Creeping Fig
  • Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens)

Non-evergreen, but foliage focused, plants can bring a startling and lovely backdrop to the garden. Many times foliage vines that grow on fences are variegated or have splendid fall color and are exciting to look at. For a foliage vine for your fence, try:

  • Hardy Kiwi
  • Variegated Porcelain Vine
  • Virginia Creeper
  • Silver Fleece Vine
  • Purple Leaved Grape

Now that you know how to plant a living fence using vines, you can start to beautify your chain link fence. When it comes to plants that grow on fences, you have many choices on what kinds of vines to grow. Whether you are looking for a fast growing plant to cover a fence or something that provides year-round interest, you are sure to find a vine that suits your tastes and needs.

If this is the year you’re going to finally put up a fence—or figure out how to deal with the less-than-lovely one you’ve already got—consider climbing vines. Planted by the base of chain-link or basic picket fences, they can be trained to grow right up and over the surface. (By “training” them we just mean telling the vines where you want them to go; pick up a pouch of training clips or twist ties to nudge them in one direction or another.) Once they flower, these vines turn an otherwise cheap and boring lawn divider into a serious sensory experience. If you’re worried the flowers will come and go too soon, plant a few different types of vines so that they intermingle as they grow—once one bloom wilts, a new one will fill in the gaps.) Doesn’t digging a few holes in the dirt sound a whole lot easier (and less expensive) than paying for a total fence replacement? We thought so. Here are seven flowering climbing vines that will work their magic on your fencing. Plant them this weekend! Tis the season.


SHOP NOW: Bougainvillea “San Diego Red” by Gray Gardens, $11,

Photo: jchatoff


SHOP NOW: 3-Year-Old Confederate Jasmine Vine by indoorbonsaiandexotics, $22,


SHOP NOW: John Clayton Climbing Honeysuckle Vine, $50,

Photo: Charles Haynes


SHOP NOW: Nelly Moser Clematis Plant by Van Zyverden, $11,

Photo: Dean Thompson

Climbing Roses

SHOP NOW: Cecile Brunner Climbing Rose Bush by Stargazer Perennials, $13,


SHOP NOW: Amethyst Falls Wisteria Vine by Amazing Plants, $14,

Photo: Karen

Climbing Hydrangeas

SHOP NOW: Climbing Hydrangea Anomala by New Life Nursery & Garden, $20,

Photo: Andrea_44

Fast-Growing Climbers that can Quickly Create Privacy and Cover Eyesores

If you want to add visual depth to your garden, think up. Climbing vines and shrubs, that is. These climbers expand your garden in an entirely new direction, and the added height gives your space a cozy feel by creating privacy. As an added bonus, all of these plants bloom at least once a year, so you’ll be treated to a wall of color all season long.

Clematis (Zones 4-9)

Clematis is a versatile, fast-growing vine that comes in all colors and blooming seasons. While flower size and color will depend on the variety you plant, what all clematis boast is their explosive height. They can skim the clouds at 30 feet in just a few months, and in addition to growing tall, they also grow wide to provide optimal coverage. All varieties of clematis thrive in sunny locations that tend to have cool soil. If you’re worried that your sun-exposed spot might get too hot, apply mulch around the plant to ensure that the soil remains cool. Since clematis shoots up so quickly, be sure to provide support for the vine to climb, whether it’s a fence, trellis, poles, etc. Clematis grows well both in the ground and in containers if you wish to limit the growth. Water often while the vine is establishing itself. Then water an inch a week, and give it an extra good drink during times of drought. Prune following the blooming period to ensure that the vine always looks its best.

Climbing Roses (Zones 5-10)

Climbing roses can be trained to grow over fences, trellises, or walls, and they often add a traditional touch to the garden. These roses send up a long structural cane — it’s on the main shoots that the smaller ones grow. When planting, be sure to install your supports first and then plant the rose. You’ll want to support rose canes adequately, and while it may seem counterintuitive if you’re planting a privacy barrier, it’s a good idea to train the long cane to grow in a horizontal position. The main cane will produce more flowers when horizontal, all of which will bloom and spread out to create a great deal of cover. Ideally, you’ll want to continue to tie your rose canes as they grow, though for at least the first year or two try letting them grow freely, as it will help them bush out. Water well while the plant is becoming established, and prune it annually to help it maintain your desired shape.

Climbing Hydrangeas (Zones 4-7)

Climbing hydrangeas are the summer favorite that can grow up to 50 feet tall. Although it takes a few years to establish itself,you had better watch out for accelerated growth when it does. These vines will climb anything: trellises, fences, and even trees. Before long, the area will be covered with massive green leaves and flowers. This hydrangea will bloom from early summer to mid-autumn. While the plant provides ample privacy in the summer, it’ll eventually shed its foliage and remain sparse until the following spring. Hydrangeas are versatile, and so long as you plant them in soil that’s super rich, you can grow them in full sun or partial shade.

Wisteria (Zones 5-9)

Wisteria is a hardy climber that quickly creates screening when planted near a trellis or fence and provides visual interest when trained to climb a wall. Wisteria can grow up to 30 feet tall and is known for the fragrant lilac and blue-tinged flowers that cascade from the vine. These aggressive vines have a habit of growing to fill all of the nooks and crannies they can reach, so you’ll want to try to keep some distance between them and your house. Additionally, be aware that both Chinese and Japanese wisterias are considered invasive in some states. Alternatively, you might consider growing American or Kentucky wisteria instead. Not sure of the difference? Just look at the seed pod — the Asian varieties will be fuzzy whereas the North American varieties are smooth. Plant them in full sun and compost-amended soil.

Trumpet Vine (Zones 4-9)

Trumpet vine grows easily in pretty much any condition: sun, shade, blazing heat, and cold. It’s bright red and orange flowers attract hummingbirds and other wildlife to your landscape. It grows quickly, both in height and width. While this is ideal if you’re interested in creating privacy screening, keep in mind that this plant can get invasive if not kept under control. How fast can it grow? It’s not unheard of to reach anywhere between 30 to 40 feet in one season alone! Prune it often (don’t worry, it can handle it). Trumpet vine is ideal for fences and trellises, but like wisteria, you’ll want to keep it away from your home, as the vine’s aggressive growth may cause damage to your shingles or foundation. One way to avoid some of the drawbacks of planting a barrier of trumpet vines is to steer clear of the Campis radicans variety that’s native to the United States and instead try the Campis grandiflora, or Chinese trumpet vine. It’s still a fast grower that you’ll need to control with pruning, but planting these on a column out of reach from other plants pretty much guarantees you a nice privacy barrier without the worry that the vines will start to strangle trees and other existing plants.

Star Jasmine (Zones 8-10)

Star jasmine is easily identified by its small, fragrant star-shaped flowers that grow quickly over walls, trellises, and fences. Although it can grow up to 30 feet tall, it still needs support. Otherwise, it’ll flop over. If you’re searching for a good groundcover though, a flopped-over star jasmine can do the trick. Easily adaptable to many temperatures and climates, it can take full sun in moderation. If you plan to plant it in a warmer zone, be sure to provide some protection from the glaring sun during the hottest parts of the day. Water it regularly, especially while it’s still getting established. The hotter the temperatures outside, the more water it’ll need. Prune it after flowering to ensure that it maintains the shape you prefer.

Hops (Zones 3-9)

Hops are hardy vines to add to any garden, especially if you’re a home brewer or know someone who is. This vine climbs a staggering foot a day and will grow up to 25 feet in total. Even if you’re not into brewing, hop vines are an interesting ornamental to add to the garden. Be sure to support them by training them to climb twine, wire, or cable, or at least train them over a trellis. Rhizomes, the subterranean stems of your hops plants that will produce their root systems, should be planted in early spring and watered well until they become established. Harvest the cones from August through September, when they’ve become green and fragrant.

The Best Vines to Grow for Covering a Wooden Fence

Growing vines to cover a wooden fence is an easy, low-maintenance way to add color and interest to your garden or yard. Whether you’ve made your own wooden fence or bought a new one, you can choose from a variety of vine plants to suit your needs.


Fickle gardeners can enjoy a profusion of pink flowers one year and a bounty of blue the next. Sprinkle the contents of a packet of seeds next to your wooden fence, and you’ll have beautiful climbers in no time. Annuals like a sunny spot with good, well-draining soil. Plant seeds according to package directions and keep evenly moist until germination. That’s about it. You only need to fertilize sparingly. Water too much and you’ll have lots of dark foliage but few flowers. Be sure to water only if the weather has been especially hot or dry. The following are some of the flowering favorites.

Cardinal Climber Vine

This vine has deep red flowers with yellow or white throats. It varies in vine height, from 6-20 feet.


These can grow vines up to 20 feet. The flowers open only at night, giving off a heady fragrance.

Morning Glory

These blue flowers open on a summer morning and stay open all day. Vines can reach 8-10 feet.

Sweet Peas

Sweet peas have relatively short vines, just 3-5 feet, but they’re delightfully long on fragrance. They make great cut flowers, too.


Perennial vines return year after year. Some will eventually grow over your fence and cover it completely if they are not regularly trimmed back. There are perennials for a variety of uses and growing conditions. Here are some you might want to try.

Clematis Vines

Clematis vines offer 250 species to choose from with nearly any color imaginable. Most prefer full sun, but there are some shade-loving varieties too. Well-tended clematis, planted in rich soil with a neutral pH, can live up to 20 years.

Climbing Hydrangea

These beauties pay dividends all year long, with clusters of huge white flowers in summer, bright-yellow foliage in fall, and eye-catching winter bark.

Everlasting Pea

The everlasting pea is, in a way, the perennial version of sweet pea. It lacks sweet pea’s fragrance, but the red, pink, or white flowers will bloom summer to fall, and it’s an easy vine to grow.

Once enjoyed by Southerners only, wisteria is now available in varieties that are hardy. Be sure to plant in full sun and get ready for cascades of white, pink, lavender, or purple flowers. Wisteria can get quite heavy, so you may want to trim it so it doesn’t weigh down your fence.

Forget About Ivy

Though ivy is a charming addition to any garden, its tenacious habit wreaks havoc with wood fences. Ivy spreads by sending out “grabbers” that will push into the wood and dry it out completely, leaving the wood to split in no time. Ivy can quickly grow into a lush, thick cover that holds moisture against your fence and causes it to rot, and it can be tough to get ivy off of walls or fences. In fact, ivy is so strong that it can actually twist the fence. If you must have ivy, grow it on a pole, a stone wall, or a chain-link fence.

It’s inevitable: come autumn and winter, a deciduous climber will lose its leaves and reveal a dull skeleton. Instead, follow our advice on picking and planting evergreen climbers to cover your fence for year-round interest.

Preparing Your Fence

A quality fence is without doubt a beautiful sight, but one supporting evergreen plants can be simply breathtaking. Just ensure all is sound and secure before planting up:

  • If your fence panels are rotten, repair them or replace them. A fully-grown evergreen plant is heavy and whatever fence is supporting it has to be in tip-top condition.
  • Check posts too and repair or replace as needed.
  • If you need to treat the fence (with preservative, stain or paint), do it before you pin a plant to it. Obvious, I know, but not always thought through.

Choosing a Climber

Picking the plant for your fence is easy. There are two questions…

  1. What do you like?
  2. Will it like your fence?

In other words…

Match the plant to the position. If your fence faces south, it is likely to be warmer and sunnier than the other side (which will face north). Certain plants like it warm and sunny, while others will be quite happy in gloomier, wetter conditions.

And now the plants! All of these will add year-round interest to your fences:

Star Jasmine

Small fragrant white flowers and dark green leaves. Flowers in summer, holds leaves all the year round. It’s a stunner for sunny, warm, south-facing fences.


Never turn your nose up at this lovely group of plants. Easy to grow, happy anywhere and available with big leaves, small leaves, green leaves, yellow leaves, creamy splashed leaves…

Evergreen clematis offers long leaves and bunches of creamy white flowers (super scented and sometimes speckled) on sunny, south-facing fences.

Chocolate Vine

Just about an evergreen as it does keep its leaves in gentle winters. What a cracker! Purple flowers, vanilla scented and beautiful leaves. I wouldn’t be without it.

Passion Flower

Many varieties of passion flower will also keep their leaves through a mild winter. They do need warmth and sun but are well worth the effort. What a display of exotica.

Japanese or Evergreen Honeysuckle

A lovely plant capable of producing white flowers that fade to yellow in sun or partial shade. Great against a fence.

Planting a Climber

Any fence supported by posts will create drier soil at the base. Soil around posts will be particularly arid due to their blob of concrete and footings.

Whatever you plant, make sure to :

  • Plant the roots about 12 inches away from the fence and lean the top part of the plant into the fence and tie that lot in. This means roots will have access to more moisture in the soil.
  • Tie the plant to taut wires. These can be fixed to posts and strained between tensioners. It’s important to keep things tight as saggy wires are not a good look.
  • Tell your neighbours. Climbers will creep and peep through to your neighbours and they may just think of them as weeds. It would be a shame if they treated your plant on their side with weed killer.

If you have areas of fencing that you don’t want to cover, opt for decorative fence panels. They create a beautiful frame for your garden.

Let us know your favourite evergreen climber in the comments below.

Climbing plants for walls and fences

This path of rose-covered arches is the ultimate in floral showmanship.
Image: /Manfred Ruckszio

Climbing plants give fences, walls, trellis, arches or obelisks the “wow” factor. Great for screening unsightly areas of the garden, they also brighten up bare walls and add height to your borders. Here’s our guide to the best climbing plants and wall-trained shrubs for sunny and shady spots in your garden.

Climbing plants for containers

Flowers like the ‘Black-eyed Susan’ look fantastic on trellis’.
Image: /Lost Mountain Studio

Ideal for adding interest to patios and decking, climbing plants do well in containers. Good annual climbers to consider include Sweet peas, Black-eyed Susan, Morning Glory and Nasturtiums.

Perennials also make excellent choices for planting in containers, though you do need think about how you’re going to train them because they can get quite big as they mature. Give long flowering indigo violet Asarina scandens ‘Jewel Mixed’ a try, or Clematis montana ‘Rubens’ whose pale pink blooms will get your garden display off to a spectacular early summer start.

Climbing plants for shady walls

Flowers like the ‘Black-eyed Susan’ look fantastic on trellis’.
Image: /GoneWithTheWind

Cold and sunless north-facing walls might seem an unpromising environment for climbers to thrive, but some plants cope with these conditions rather well. Likewise, east-facing walls which only get light in the morning tend to be a chilly spot in the garden, but you’d be surprised how much just a little splash of early sun adds to the growing potential.

That said, both north and east-facing walls are better suited to foliage plants than bloomers. East walls in particular can be tricky places to grow flowering plants, because winter-frosted buds and leaves struck by the morning sun can defrost too quickly causing cell damage which makes them brown and wither.

Good foliage climbers include Parthenocissus quinquefolia, better known as Virginia creeper, a carefree plant that’s easy to grow anywhere including shady spots. The leaves turn a stunning crimson colour in autumn. Alternatively, Hedera helix ‘Green Ripple’ is a very attractive ivy which offers evergreen coverage for shady walls and fences.

Climbing plants for sunny walls

Flowers like the ‘Black-eyed Susan’ look fantastic on trellis’.
Image: /MarjanCermelj

South and west-facing walls absorb the heat of the sun throughout much of the day and retain it overnight, making these ideal spots for less hardy plants like Ceanothus x delileanus ‘Gloire de Versailles’ (Californian Lilac), and the stunning violet passion flower, Passiflora ‘Violacea Victoria’.

Winter-flowering climbing plants, and wall shrubs like silk-tassel bush (Garrya) and Wintersweet (Chimonanthus), will also benefit from warmth early in the year and will flower more freely against a south or west-facing wall.

Alternatively, why not try growing fruit trees against a sunny wall for a spectacular show of spring blossom and fresh home-grown produce straight from your garden? To save space, fruit trees can be trained as cordons, fans or espaliers.

In sunny spots where the soil is prone to drying in the heat, it’s vital to ensure you dig in plenty of organic matter like well-rotted manure or compost before planting. Mulching with organic matter or pebbles also helps to conserve moisture during the summer.

Supporting climbing plants

With the right support structure in place, flowers like ‘Clematis’ will thrive.
Image: /Lijuan Guo

All climbing plants need some training to get them started. When planting your new climber or shrub, make sure you plant it 30-45cm away from the base of a wall or fence so the rain can reach the roots of the plant.

Climbers like ivy and Virginia creeper have aerial roots which help them cling to surfaces like walls and fences, but other climbers like honeysuckle and clematis need a framework to scramble over. Wall shrubs don’t climb naturally and need training and tying in to a support.

Use a series of horizontal or vertical wires, or a trellis attached to the wall to provide support for your climbing plants. Tie in new shoots with soft garden twine. Garden structures for climbing plants need to be strong and secure as plants can become very heavy with age.

We hope our list of climbing plants for walls and fences provides you with plenty of inspiration. Whatever surface you’re trying to cover, and whatever conditions you’re planting in, Thompson and Morgan has a climbing plant to suit every garden.

What I’ve noticed more and more lately (and admired) are hog wire panels: used for fences, gates, and trellises. A mainstay on ranches for decades, hog wire panels been discovered by homeowners and landscape designers as an affordable, low-profile solution for maintaining a wide-open view while keeping animals out. They even possess a certain elegance.

Above: A see-through hog wire gate welcomes guests to a Michigan summer house by Kettelkamp & Kettelkamp. Photograph courtesy of Kettelkamp & Kettelkamp.

What are hog wire panels?

Also called cattle or livestock panels, hog wire panels are made of steel rods welded at every intersection and galvanized with a zinc coating. Feed- and livestock-supply companies sell different styles with different rod gauges. You’ll want a heavy gauge for a longer-lasting fence that won’t sag.

Above: Photograph by Michelle Slatalla.

How do you construct a hog wire fence?

Four-foot-high hog wire panels, a common size, come in 16-foot lengths, which are usually cut in half to make 8-foot sections. For posts, my local landscape contractor recommends using 4-by-4-inch pressure-treated Douglas fir, set in concrete. The stringers (or rails) at the top and bottom of the fence could be 2-by-4-inch pressure-treated fir or redwood. You can either staple the hog panels to the posts, or sandwich the panels between 1-by-1-inch pieces of redwood to hide the ends of the wire.

Most homeowners in my Northern California town are concerned about keeping deer out of gardens, so they often add a 2-by-12-inch kickboard at the bottom to make the overall fence 6 feet high. You need at least that to keep deer out.

Above: Hog wire fence and a see-through gate creates an sense of open space. Straight wire strung above the hog panels adds height to the fence. Photograph by Ellen Jenkins.

Above: Close-up shows 1-by-1-inch redwood strips hiding the sharp edges of the wire. Photograph by Nicole Franzen for Gardenista.

Which plants grow well on a hog wire fence?

One of the nice things about a hog wire fence is that it acts as a trellis. Almost any vining plant will grow on hog wire: jasmine, clematis, potato vine, hardenbergia, and many more. Climbing roses can be tied against the wire. You’ll have a living fence in no time, if that’s what you want. The one vine that doesn’t do well on metal wire is ivy, because it uses suckers to climb.

Above: Photograph by Marie Viljoen. For more of Marie’s garden, see Rehab Diary: A Year in the Life of a Brooklyn Garden.

How much does a hog wire fence cost?

If you’re using wooden posts and rails, a hog wire fence is a little more expensive than chain-link, but costs less than a solid cedar fence. The panels come in 16-foot lengths and in heights ranging from 3 to 8 feet. For example, a 16-foot-long fence of 4-foot-high panels costs about $50 per linear foot in my area. If you’re doing the labor yourself, the fence can be quite inexpensive.

If you hire a landscaper or fencing contractor, installing a 6-foot-high wood-and-wire fence costs from $35 to $50 per running foot, depending on labor costs in your area. If you omit the 1-foot stringer at the bottom and install a 5-foot fence, the cost per running foot is about $10 less: from $25 to $40.

Above: Photograph by Michelle Slatalla.

Hog Wire Fence Recap

  • Inexpensive–less than a wood fence
  • Durable and strong
  • Preserves the view
  • Flexible–can bend
  • Easy to install
  • Keeps out larger animals such as dogs and deer


  • Edges can be sharp, and must be covered with trim
  • Does not provide privacy
  • Does not deter smaller pests

Looking for a fence to repel deer? For more ideas, see A Deer-Proof Edible Garden, East Coast Edition and Elegant Deer Fencing in the Hamptons. And browse our Hardscaping 101 archives.

Finally, learn how to successfully design a fence for any landscape or garden project with our Hardscaping 101: Fences & Gates guide.

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