Solid Fence Screen

Our house in the burbs has a wooden fence that surrounds it. It’s great that it defines the boundaries, but it’s not so great for privacy. As you can see by the picture below, we have a distracting view of our neighbour’s pool in the back yard.  As if the sightline isn’t bad enough, noise transference is an issue too.

There’s a project for the garden that we literally started years ago but just never got around to finishing. When our neighbours plunked down a sofa right up against the fence, it was finally time to take some DIY action and finish what we started. We needed to block that view forever by putting up a solid screen (which would not only improve the look of that corner, but hopefully also help with sound).

We started with cedar boards like this one from our local big box store:

Hubs glued a bunch of them together using carpenter’s glue made for outdoor use (it’s brown in colour) and clamped them until dry to form this panel.

Unfortunately because we dry stacked the structure, our little rock garden has suffered erosion over the years and both the soil level and supporting rocks have settled substantially. Hubs loves the time worn look, but I’m on the fence (pun always intended)! Perhaps one day we’ll get around to rebuilding it. For now we were determined to get on with our band-aid fix.

In order to make the panel level at the top of the fence and close the gap, that meant adding a shim on the retainer wall. Since the fence panels were uneven, hubs had to add some shims on the vertical boards also to make it plum.

Now it was time to drill holes to secure the panel. Hubs used screws and cup washers for mounting to give it a finished look:

He held the panel up against the fence and took some measurements, which he then marked on the panel.

Then he predrilled all the holes at once…

… and started to attach the screws and cup washers.

By the way, if any of those screws happen to loosen and fall, a great thing to have on hand is this magnetic pickup tool.

It helps with fumble finger syndrome. Here’s hubs “demonstrating” for you how to reclaim a lost screw in a hard to reach place!

Hubs moved the board into place. Looks like our pom pom topiary needs a haircut! It went onto our ever expanding list of things to do in the garden.

Hubs secured the screws and I snapped away with the camera.

When I stepped back to look at the ‘big picture’, I noticed two things. The first was that it looked pretty plain.

Of course, I also couldn’t help but notice that hubs had cut the shim too short! So he cut a piece to fill the gap and installed that too. No big deal, the plant material will eventually cover it anyway 🙂

With that addressed, I headed to the garage to see if there was anything we could use to spiff up our big, blank board. This is where being a combination pack-rat and upcycler (aka garbage picker) comes in handy. I spied this metal leaf structure that was languishing away in our garage for almost as long as the board.

I pulled it out and brought it into the backyard to have a good look at it:

It was going to be just what the boring board needed! We secured it on using the same screws (without washers) so we could lift it off and store it in the winter.

As you can see, the dark metal is a nice contrast against the cedar panel for now. However once the wood greys with time, we may eventually paint the metal – we’ll see.

Even with the decorative metal piece in place, it still looked underwhelming. We had to turn our attention to adding some plant material in the rock garden to hide the wood structure holding in the soil.

We purchased four Sedum ‘Autumn Charm’. It’s a slow grower but will eventually add enough height and width to mask the areas we don’t want to see. It also turns a gorgeous flame colour in the fall so will be beautiful to look at well into the colder weather.

I used a long shovel to mark the position of each plant.

Then hubs took over since he’s more nimble and svelte than me. He got up close and personal with a hand spade and crawled right into the corner to plant the sedum. All I had to do was unpot each one and hand them over!

Looks better already, don’t you think?

He built up some of the soil too as he went.

The key to a successfully balanced rock garden (or any garden for that matter) is to have thrillers, fillers and spillers.

With these sedum acting as fillers, I think we’re finally getting there.

We had a very late start to our spring season this year, but I can’t tell you how nice it was to see something actually in bloom!

Soon after our screen went up, those blooms died off, but then our ‘Johson’s Blue’ Geranium graced us with the same purple colour (I love purple)! We added a hanging planter filled with wave petunias to finish off the corner with a pop of white and after a few weeks, our solid fence screen is looking like it fits right in!

Here’s a reminder of how it looked before the screen; not too nice seeing only a tease of the pool – especially when you don’t own one yourself!

The after looks so much prettier – even on a cloudy day!

I wish we had gotten around to mounting the screen sooner, but it seems like there’s always something that takes priority that keeps us from getting to the things we really want to do!

Here’s a last look at the before and after. Don’t forget to pin!

I’ll leave you with a few more inspirational garden pictures.

You can find links to some of them below (or browse our garden category here):

  1. Build a zen water feature
  2. Add curb appeal with a front pond
  3. Reshape a pom pom topiary
  4. Build a rock garden
  5. Build a dry creek bed
  6. Train clematis on a trellis
  7. Landscape a backyard into an oasis
  8. Build trellises and privacy screens; and
  9. Creative planter ideas for the garden

Last week, I left you with this teaser of our most recent upcycle find; it’s nearing completion and will eventually find its way into the garden too. At the moment hubs and I are debating whether to put it in the front or back (I’m partial to the front by the water feature). Stay tuned to see who wins this friendly DIY tug of war.

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2 thoughts on “Solid Fence Screen

  1. Sara, you come up with the best solutions to your various challenges. This is a great fix, for sound and privacy but also as a design feature. I *love* that leaf-shaped trellis. Your garden is looking pretty, too. It’s so nice when everything suddenly fills out at the start of spring.

    • I love the leaf shaped trellis too; I can’t even remember where we found it but I guess it was meant to be reclaimed for our project.

      Spring is my favourite time of year and it was such a long time coming. I love watching everything emerge and grow; there’s something exciting to see every day.

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