The Q&A Archives: Selecting The Appropriate Vine/shrub To Cover An Old Ugly Fence

Question: I am very satisfied with your plants and purchase them regulary at La Sumida Nursery here in Santa Barbara. I am looking to conceal and old ugly fence which is in our small back yard. I am undecided whether to plant a hedge or an vine. It is a mostly full sun location. Since the yard itself is only 20 feet across and the bed below the fence is only about 2 1/2 feet wide I am hesitant to plant a shrub that will grow too thick. Could you recommend appropriate plants for either a shrub, or an vine that could be trained onto the fence. Ideally I would like this to be the background to a perennially border and would also like recommendations for companion planting.

Answer: Given the size of the planting area, I think you'll be far happier with a vining perennial than a shrub which might grow too large for the allotted space. Since your goal is to conceal an ugly fence, an evergreen vine would be the best choice. Some evergreen vines for you to consider include Bougainvillea, Clematis armandii, Clytostoma callistegioides (violet trumpet vine), Gelsemium sempervirens (Carolina jessamine), Lonicera (evergreen honeysuckle), Millettia reticulata (evergreen wisteria), Tecoma capensis (cape honeysuckle) and Trachelospermum (star jasmine). Each of these plants will provide an attractive green foliage backdrop for a perennial border. Once you've chosen just the right vine (there are details of each in Sunset Western Garden book), you can choose suitable companion plants (based upon soil preferences, fertilizer and water requirements of your vine). Enjoy your new perennial bed!

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