In the suburban New York/New Jersey gardens where I do much of my landscape design work, fences are a part of the landscape. They become, by virtue of the height and length, a major landscape feature–whether intended or not. Creating a planting scheme to complement them depends on the fence and the homeowner’s intent for their yard and the shade sun patterns created by the fence itself. The two examples below are stylistically different, but both are created in a very narrow space and require minimal care.
A hot, small space between a fence and a driveway can become a lush cottage garden that requires little water and simple maintenance. For this small project I wanted the formality of the fence to be softened by the relaxed planting style. The white fence is a major player in the design and a visual partner to bloom and foliage colors that are limited to yellow, blue and grey.
Fastigiate and dwarf varieties of plants are excellent choices for creating a layered interesting planting design in a narrow space. In the backyard below, the homeowner asked me for as much flat green space for three teenage boys to practice sports. Plants needed to be able to withstand errant balls and and occasional out of bounds play. The garden is less than four feet wide and is a straight line along the fence. It is layered to create four season interest and is composed of three plants: fastigiate hornbeams (Carpinis betulus ‘Fastigata), a diminutive weigela–Weigla florida ‘Midnight Wine’ for color and spring bloom, and upright, narrow boxwood Buxus sempervirens ‘Monrue’ (Green Tower boxwood). The maintenance consists of weeding and mulching when necessary and an annual prune for the boxwood.