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nycowboy

ideas for covering chain link fence -- I need privacy!

nycowboy
8 years ago

Hi. We have lived in our village home for 14 years. I like the area, but I really wish that we had more space between houses. Even so, those in cities or other areas have neighbors almost literally on top of them. We don't have that problem, but I want to go out in my backyard without feeling like I'm in a fishbowl. We have a hedgerow of trees that is right along the property line. "Conveniently", the property line goes right in the midst of the trees, so I'm stumped with what to do with a privacy fence. There is a chain-link fence that the previous owners of our house set about 5 feet in from the property line (on our side of the trees). Obviously that fence provides NO privacy.

I thought about attaching bamboo/reed fencing to the chain-link fence so I wouldn't have to look at the neighbors junk, see their bonfires, watch them and their big dog as they grill outdoors, and whatever. I am concerned that bamboo is not opaque, though. I thought maybe about putting a double row of bamboo to help the situation. Or putting slats in the fence. But I'm puzzled. The photo is old; ours is the house on the left. The chain link fence is in the hodgepodge of trees.

Comments (37)

  • dahoov2
    8 years ago

    They sell bamboo screening at lowes/Home Depot... I chose to leave a 6' privacy fence straigt back in my yard because I can see only nature on the other side (have privacy fences on the sides though) I put bamboo tied to the fence. During a storm sometimes it comes down a little and I have to go back there and tie it back up, but I had it two years now and it's great. I can see through the fence just a wee bit and it's natural looking.

    Before we put up a white vinyl fence in the front yard, We had a split rail fence (just about the cheapest you can get) and we planted a Wisteria vine. Within one year, that entire thing was covered. It smelled heavenly and was outrageously gorgeous... the only issue is the blossoms drop annually and need to be raked and the vine is invasive and will climb anything within 20' of it so if you have trees etc, you'll have to continually cut the vine out of them...

    Short of that, I don't know what else you can do other than to get a white vinyl fence.

  • dahoov2
    8 years ago

    PS we doubled the bamboo too and you can't see through it. Trouble is you will still see over the fence if the fence is only 4' which is about the standard height allowed on side/front yards

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  • nycowboy
    Original Author
    8 years ago

    Thank you, dahoov. Now you have me dreaming of wisteria...


  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    8 years ago

    Would be good to show a picture taken from where you would be when using your yard, pointing in direction of offending yard.

  • nycowboy
    Original Author
    8 years ago

    I agree, yardvaark. Will do.



  • nycowboy
    Original Author
    8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    This is the view into the neighbor's yard. I shot an "overview" shot so that you could get "the big picture." Their yard starts about five feet beyond the chain link fence (which is just beyond the vinyl settee and the sandbox). I want to block out as much of their yard as possible. I do not want to see their wood "burn pile" in the left corner, nor do I want to look at their windows. I also get tired of looking at their blue junk wagon in the distance (again filled with wood for their bonfires).


    This photo is taken from the front of our yard to closely illustrate the area around the fence, which is about 5 feet away (in) from the property line. Our house is to the left of the shot. The large trees in the foreground are right along the actual property line, pretty much.


  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    8 years ago

    You could edit the above post. Place the cursor directly after the extra picture and press the backspace key once.

    I don't understand your new picture. I thought we would be looking from your yard TO the offending yard, but I'm not sure whose yard is in the foreground of the first new picture. It is the disturbing view I am wanting to see.

  • nycowboy
    Original Author
    8 years ago

    Hi Yardvaark. I have edited the photos and hopefully explained myself better.

    The first new photo looks into the neighbor's yard from the area that we usually use.

    If I were to cover/re-fence the chain link area, it would be about 80 linear feet.


  • dahoov2
    8 years ago

    You won't be able to block out their windows. Too high. You'll have to put a privacy fence in for that. You can do it yourself. We actually put in a vinyl fence oursevles. Required post hole digger, cement and just shoves and axes/chainsaw to break up roots. That's all. A lot of sweat. Otherwise, vines that grow a lot like the Wisteria or perhaps jasmine or honey suckle.

  • nycowboy
    Original Author
    8 years ago

    Thanks, dahoov.

    I agree- their windows are too high. The trees are mostly maples. Nothing grows under/near them, even grass. I take that back -- Lamiastrum grows there. Will wisteria, etc. grow there? What about bamboo in pots (I'm in zone 5, sometimes 6 if it is a mild winter)?

    I'm not worried about the upstairs windows. It's seeing them when they are outside and I want to be outside that bugs me.


  • nycowboy
    Original Author
    8 years ago

    My goal is to be able to go out in my yard and feel like I'm not being watched. Even if it isn't more than "psycholical privacy" (I "think" they can't see me, even if they can), I'd be a lot happier.

    The people that live there are renters. In the 14 years we've had our house, the average "lifespan" of the neighbors is 3 years. I just get to know people (or at least figure them out) and they move. Then the next set of weirdos moves in. Never fails...


  • calienteorange
    8 years ago

    I would plant shrubs that screen and grow at least 8-10' high along your fence line.

  • nycowboy
    Original Author
    8 years ago

    Caliente: I like that idea... however, I want privacy NOW and not 10 years from now.

    The trees that are there do a fair job at covering the neighbor's house. It is the yard that I don't like to see.


  • dahoov2
    8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    There is one problem with that suggestion. I have some 15-20 foot tall spindly trees (very thin it was weird nobody could identify them). They screened the neighbors beautifully... but every year, they'd grow fast and when I left anywhere for a few hours, I'd come back and my neighbors would have been in my yard cutting them down to the fenceline. I got furious the last time because not a single leaf was left. All stems! SoOOOO annoyed! So remember anything you plant on the edge will go into the neighbors side and there could be issues. I'd talk to them first lest you have a war...

  • nycowboy
    Original Author
    8 years ago

    Thanks again! These people like to let their dog into the area just beyond my fence - they think it is "theirs" even though it isn't. Then there was the leaf battle. The first year they were there, they went and raked all of the leaves in my yard next to the fence without my permission. That made me mad!!!! I've let the landlord know. I've grouched at them. Lately there has been no more trespassing, and I hope it stays that way. I'm not planting stuff that can go in "their" yard.


  • dahoov2
    8 years ago

    This photo taken a long long time ago. I have a different fence now....

    Trees can be planted. This also a long time ago. Split rail is gone replace by a white vinyl

    Better than chain link but still can see your neighbor.

  • dahoov2
    8 years ago

    Bamboo is a fast grower and will screen them out as well. But it's invasive you have to watch it well


  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Whatever portion of a plant crosses over the lot line (no matter how high or low an elevation,) that portion becomes the property of the neighbor and they can choose to do with it as they please ... like cut it back to the lot line. It's this way because you cannot plant something that will invade the neighbor's property and demand that you are able to keep and control it within their property. In spite of this, usually it's not a problem. Who cares what the back side of the plant is doing. It's the side that faces you that matters. And, people usually make some effort to plant far enough away from the property line that they get to control most of their plants. Since the desire for privacy usually exists on both side of the fence, usually people don't mind, or actually like, when the neighbors plant something that screens and are tolerant of it coming on to their side of the lot line. As lots get smaller people get a little pickier about it. The worst to deal with are gardeners as they are plant obsessed and want to control everything about their plants as much as possible, whereas average Joe non-gardener does not care that much.

    So the yard with the BBQ grill, sandbox and bench is yours, NYCboy? The difficulty is that most newly installed plants need light to flourish and when you are planting below existing trees, the light is often lacking, which means that you must remove some lower branches of the trees to let light in below them.

    I will mention my favorite solution for quick screen and that is the extended, suspended trellis. It is fence posts of whatever height with stout hooks at the top. Chain is swagged from the hooks, post to post, and twine is dropped from the chain and staked to ground at 12" intervals. Vines are planted to climb the twine until they reach the chain. Annual vines planted by seed can cover this structure solid in abut 6 weeks. Perennial vines are usually planted, too, so that eventually, there is continuous year-round cover. Moonflower vine, an annual, can take some shade, but the photos do not give a true assessment of how much shade we're dealing with. You must be the judge. Nearly every part of the country has many vines that grow, so there are choices and some of them have no trouble starting in the shade. Another advantage is that the structure can be erected piecemeal. You could create a section and later add another at your discretion. Here's an example of it that is in full sun.

    Other than that, there are shrubs like columnar buckthorn and oak leaf hydrangea that will tolerate SOME shade. I'm not in that zone any longer so other options that are shade tolerant are not fresh on my mind. Maybe someone else will have some recs.

  • nycowboy
    Original Author
    8 years ago

    Thank you, yaardvark. I love the vine idea...
    but...
    the area is in total shade most of the year, so I am puzzled with plantings. And with maples, nothing will grow there if I plant it in the soil. Maybe if I plant something in a box/planter in a small area and see how it works?

    Yes, the yard with the bench, sandbox is mine.

    Thank you, though.

    And thanks, dahoov, for your ideas.

    yaardvark: what would you think of a bamboo fence?


  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    8 years ago

    I love bamboo, but don't think it is the right solution for you.. It takes a lot of prep (root barriers) to make sure it stays in control.

    I meant to mention what I thought was the perfect vine for you: Virginia creeper. As it is a native that practically grows everywhere, it is no trouble finding some or growing it. It will climb chain link (as well as many other things.) Can be managed by mowing and Round-up.

  • dahoov2
    8 years ago

    ooh, I just thought of something removable... what about buying one of those tents where you put the furniture inside to sit? You could put one of those up in the spot where you don't want to see them.... and the backside can be canvas coming down. Bamboo in pots not good. They'll grow so much and break the pots.... still a fan of the vine idea or the bamboo screening. You could even get posts with extra tall screening material and go as high as 6'. Remember there are city rules regarding heights. I have a neighbor who's fence goes almost 8' as his yard slopes... they city did not like that it was that high in spots.

  • Olychick
    8 years ago

    Is there any reason (besides expense) that you don't just build a 6 foot privacy fence at the front of the trees (expanding your yard closer to your property line)? Are you limited to a 3 or 4 ft high fence in your community? If I craved the privacy you do (and I am the same way), I'd bite the bullet and just build a fence. You could then even build some free standing trellises that are even higher than the fence, plant them with thick vines and block some of their view from their upper windows, too. Like this, only smaller (or not :-)

    Extreme! Hop trellis!


    more reasonable size, but like this!


    nycowboy thanked Olychick
  • nycowboy
    Original Author
    8 years ago

    Hi. Thanks for all the ideas!

    Olychick: you are very right. I have been hemming and hawing about a fence for years. I have some anxiety issues and it has always bothered me that I feel so "exposed" in my backyard. I have contacted a contractor/friend. He is coming over tomorrow to talk about installing a fence. It won't be cheap, but my peace of mind isn't cheap either.


  • nycowboy
    Original Author
    8 years ago

    Oh. No, we are not limited to 3-4 feet. We have the standard 6 feet height limit.


  • Olychick
    8 years ago

    I think you will be SO happy to have it done right and have the privacy you want. It's hard when you inherit something like that chain link fence, that you know was expensive, but doesn't suit your needs. Just pretend it wasn't ever there and proceed to build the fence YOU want! I know that's not always an option $$ wise, but I'd give up lots of other things to have a privacy fence.


    nycowboy thanked Olychick
  • jane__ny
    8 years ago

    I totally agree! If I had to take out a loan I would to put a privacy fence beyond the trees. You are losing property by having the chain-link 5 ft inside your property line. Put the privacy fence against the trees. I would also trim those trees to let more light in. Fill in the areas between the trees with inexpensive shrubs like forsythia, or other cheap shrubs. Who cares, they fill in and also provide sound buffering.

    We had a similar situation when we lived in NY. We eventually filled in with cheap shrubs and good shrubs depending on the light situation. We kept adding layers of shrubs and it was completely private. The trick is to keep plants away from the property line so plants can fill in. You need to get more light in there, trim those trees. Its worth it.

    We now live in Florida and put in a wood privacy fence. It does nothing for sound. I have a very small yard but am slowly layering plants and shrubs to hide the fence and give some sound buffering.

    Jane

    This is a shot of our yard in early spring. You can see the property line which has a chain link fence. Our neighbor had a tennis court and we had to deal with people and lots of noise from their tennis games.

    This shot is of the same area in summer. You can see our walkway to the pool area. Once the bushes leafed out, we had total privacy even though the trees along the fence shaded the area. We planted shrubs which never flowered because they didn't get enough sun. But they lived and leafed out each summer.

    Jane

  • jane__ny
    8 years ago

    I just wanted to add. We had a problem with deer. They ate everything they could get their mouths on. We had planted hemlocks along the tennis court, rear of the first picture. They ate them down to sticks. So, if deer are a problem, choose plants carefully. Azaleas are good in shade as are Rhodies. But deer love them.

    Jane


  • nycowboy
    Original Author
    8 years ago

    Thanks, Jane, for all your thoughts. I love your landscaping. Thanks for sharing. I just met with the fencing contractor. Will have an estimate on a wood privacy fence soon!


  • 19kev77
    8 years ago

    I wanted to reiterate Yardvaarks caution on Bamboo. It needs to have root barrier (60Mil) and at least 3' deep. I retro-fitted this with a trencher last summer and I am still fighting the new growth on the wrong side of the barrier (and for a few more years if im lucky). This is a nightmare if not controlled. Last spring and very soon again this spring I will kick over the new sprouts and dump poison ivy concentrate into the bamboo cell structure with hopes that it will take it back to its life supply. 50 years ago an old neighbor had bamboo in a 55 gallon drum. Bottom rusted out and now it covers three rear yard properties. Creates great privacy but have a pro who understands proper control if you choose to install. (PA)

  • nycowboy
    Original Author
    8 years ago

    Thanks, kev! Wow. I knew bamboo was invasive, but I didn't realize how invasive!


  • molanic
    8 years ago

    We have a similar situation; a medium sized suburban yard with a mish mash of chain link fence. Replacing it with a privacy fence would be very difficult because a long stretch of it goes right through the middle of 40+ year old thicket of honeysuckle bushes with massive trunks and roots. They are great for privacy in the summer, but do almost nothing all winter. Neighbor has three motion lights that shine right in our windows much of the year!

    On one section with no honeysuckles we got the rolls of 6' reed fencing and tied it the 4' chain link with wires. It held up well for a few years but the wind and animals trying to climb it damaged it a lot. The wire holding it together is thin and starts to rust and break after a few years too. Cutting it back to 4' when it got ratty helped tidy it up a bit, but obviously a lot less privacy. It is a very temporary solution at best.

    Since your fence is not even on the property line, I concur that getting a new and more private fence pushed back to the line is a better solution. If that doesn't pan out though... the reed fencing is an option. Ideally you would pair the reed fencing with some type of evergreen shrubbery which will help as well. They help with noise too.

    We have a massive silver maple and previously had several in our yard and next door. Yews would grow under them, slowly at least. Sweet woodruff is a good groundcover for dry shade too, although it is not evergreen.

    If you do put in any shrubs, plant them far enough away from the fence so they have room to grow. I have seen our one neighbor out with a scissors cutting off just the very tips of our red-twig dogwoods that stick through the fence. People are strange.

    nycowboy thanked molanic
  • molanic
    8 years ago

    That is the good bamboo stuff gardengal! We went with the cheaper reed fencing. The pieces are only about as big around as a pencil, and not strong at all. When we first got it years ago you had to get it online and there wasn't much selection. Now they sell it at the local hardware store for a bit less. I just saw a Menards ad for a 4' high roll, 8' long for $9. I have never seen the real bamboo fencing available locally here, but that looks to be of a way better quality than the reed stuff. I have tried a split reed fencing also that was even shorter lived and did not provide much screening at all.

  • nycowboy
    Original Author
    8 years ago

    Howdy. Thanks for your comments molanic and gardengal. I appreciate a few things:
    -- the height of a bamboo fence not being limited because it is attached to an existing fence.
    -- I didn't know about clumping bamboo.
    -- yews growing under maples
    -- how well reed fence held up over time

    If we were to attach bamboo/reed fence, the problem is that 5 feet on the other side, which we own. I have a feeling it would become out of sight, out of mind, and the neighbors would gladly "adopt" it, even though they have no right to do so. I don't want this to happen.

    I am still waiting for an estimate on a wood fence. And you know, even the THOUGHT of having a fence has helped my anxiety a lot.


  • kitasei
    8 years ago

    Since security is not the issue here, I would consider installing fence sections that went from tree to tree -- right on the property line, that is. You see fences and walls that accommodate large trees all the time. Otherwise, you WILL lose that land. You could use the bamboo fencing to curve around the trees if you want it to be continuous. Then plant in front of the fencing, using a variety of dense shrubs, like forsythia. Plant it on mounds of soil, which will give you height and avoid the root and light competition with the maples. And finally, if I can make a gratuitous suggestion, please consider getting rid of that chain link fence. If I were your neighbors (and I have often been the three-year renter, as a foreign correspondent) I would be trying to screen my view of your backyard. Sorry, but had to say it..

  • jpmorais
    8 years ago

    #1 Don't use vinyl fencing. I hate it personally, it looks cheap, it gets moldy on the north side (not maintenance free), if branches hit it in winter it shatters, the manufacturers product lines change and it can be sometimes impossible to "match" it for repairing or replacing a panel in the future. Its appropriate in some locations but in "woodsy" shade areas it is ugly and stands out too much. That said stick with natural products.

    #2 Figure out where exactly in your yard is the most disturbing view point where you spend the most time, i.e. the porch/patio area. Invest mostly in that view first, if you can't afford all the fencing.

    #3 I have a similar situation, stockade fencing wasn't high enough, I left the old stockade and on my side of the property I configured a effective arbor. I saw the idea in a magazine and adjusted it. I set 4x4 posts 10feet tall and inbetween them installed concrete reinforcement wire grid (used in sidewalks), painted it with rust stop, installed it vertically. Part is full sun, I have concord grapes, the other portion is shady, honeysuckle vine.

    #4 Call your local cooperative extension and they should help with your growing problems.

    #5 the bamboo may not grow to well in the shade and you already have root competion from the maples.

    #6 Take one maple out to let the sun thru and/or thin out the others a bit for more light. as hard as this may be, it opens up much more possibilites.

    #7 Sell your house lol


  • jpmorais
    8 years ago

    I meant to say trellis is 10 feet tall not arbor, sorry.