I have a confession: It's already November, and parts of my backyard fence project have yet to be completed. I ran out of warm temperature days to stain the boards, and have officially put off picking up that paintbrush until next spring. But there is also some additional construction work that I need to accomplish in the one section of the backyard enclosure that does not consist of 6ft tall stockade.
My neighbor's short chainlink fence runs down part of my south lot line. It is solid but rusty, and while the beech leaves on the other side of it look very nice right now, the rest of what you see just outside the borders of this first picture do not: a pile of chunked concrete, a line of trash cans, a veggie garden invariably overrun by thistle and morning glories by mid June, etc.
As the chainlink fence is just 40 inches tall, my large, agile garden assistant could hop over the top railing with little effort if she so chose. Fortunately, she seems to know and respect what a fence is--so far. If the neighbors have new people visiting like they did last week, she runs right up to the fence but never attempts to breach it. However, I have the feeling that a taunting squirrel may prove too much temptation one of these days.
And so when I purchased the materials for last month's fence construction, I also purchased several rolls of 6ft tall reed fencing. This fencing is more decorative than anything else, but since it will have the chainlink sections behind it and no horizontal rails for the dog to set her paws on, I'm not too worried about the sturdiness. The plan was to roll it out, finish off "the look" and add some privacy.
However, as I planted bulbs the other day I started thinking about the opportunity cost of putting up this last part of the fencing. When I do put up the screens I will essentially be casting this bed into shade for all but 3 months out of the year.
In other words, there will be no more admiring the fireworks that sunshine streaming through the fall colors of my hakonechloa macra 'Aureola' can spark. There will be no spying the blooms of spring bulbs shining in a random slant of light in March. And my walk to the garage every workday morning will be shrouded in shadow.
These thoughts have caused me to start racking my brain in regards to what I can do to have the best of both worlds. Is it a matter of dealing with the shade from the reed fencing for a year and then putting up something more light-permeating to replace it? Do I cut the reed fencing in half and then post it 2 feet or so clear of the ground to allow sunlight to hit the low-growing plants that I love?
I am not quite sure how to achieve it, but know what I want. I want private openness. Open privacy. An oxymoron, I know... but more importantly, is it a completely unattainable oxymoron? Can I somehow get away with having both in my urban garden?