Garden Enclosures and Screens Types
When planning your garden enclosure, you certainly need not restrict yourself to the traditional categories of walls and fencing. There is a host of other materials, many of which are not conventionally associated with garden setting, which may be very successful in harmonizing with the individual style of a particular garden. The internal screen especially, provides an opportunity for experimentation with modern materials, glass and plastic, for example as well as for reviving the traditional garden screen of trellis work. Small gardeners are particularly versatile in this way as you can use bold ideas over a small area which might become monotonous on a large site.
Metal Fencing Enclosures
The two most common types of metal fencing are probably unsuitable in small gardens though for different reasons. The metal version of post and rail fencing is long lasting and elegant to look at when painted, but around a small garden it offers too little definite line and may well look flimsy. Another common style is wrought iron work, it’s strictly limited to a particular kind of garden, usually urban and formal, and though used in this setting it is unsurpassed. In other places it looks fussy and incongruous, and this is unfortunately emphasized by the crudeness of some modern ironwork designs. All iron work needs a coat of primer and two coats of exterior gloss paint to seal it against rust and frequent repainting is necessary.
Traditional wrought iron demands a particular apt setting, usually in the garden of an old town house or around a balcony. Modern wrought iron is somewhat crude and flimsy in comparison with the sturdy and elaborate nineteenth century original iron fencing.
Where strong winds disturb warm weather, for instance by the sea, clear glass screens will act as a wind break without blocking the view. Large sheets of 10mm thick safety or wired glass are advisable especially with children around; they may also be required by building regulations. Safety glass is expensive and the fitting is a professional job. The wooden or aluminium frame should be well stabilized particularly where the wind is strong. If the glass is framed only on three sides, the fourth edge should be ground off until it is smooth.
A glass panel will frame a view while protecting the garden from strong winds. Set the edges of the frame either well below or above the natural eye level to avoid a constant line disturbing your field of vision.
Screens within the Garden
There are situation inside the garden where a visual block is required, something less massive then a fence or a wall, which will hold the eye and be decorative within it. One frequent use of the screen is to divide the leisure parts of the garden from the working parts like compost heap and dustbins. A screen will make a garden pleasant to sit in creating areas of shade, a valuable luxury in hot countries. Planted screens can provide good protection against strong sunlight, only letting patches of green light and shadow filter through to the ground in front to form a cool retreat.
Some striking effects can be achieved with screens of rather unnatural materials. Sheets of coloured and rigid plastic can be used. Bamboo canes, or metal or plastic pipes set into the ground like a palisade fence look surprisingly effective in some garden settings. By using plants to break up straight lines of structures, an even wider range of effects can be achieved. You can weave patterns of nylon rope or taut wire covered in plastic, inside a frame a train plants up to this.
When planning this type of screen you want to consider whether or not plants will be grown along it, what kind they will be and how long they will take to grow. Some screens are marked by a light pattern of creepers, while others are enveloped by an enormous wisteria or vine. This luxuriant growth will probably die down and have to be pruned in the winter, however; make allowance for this when planning the appearance of the supporting frame work. If you intend to eventually grow a thick hedge, you may only need a temporary screen of light woven rush for instance, until the plants are fully grown.
Most screens, especially those grown over with plants or which are very delicate, require some kind of upkeep occasionally: timber needs repainting and coating with preservative, metal may rust and wires need replacing and tightening. With some structures or against brick walls, it is probably more convenient to train the plants over a wire mesh held by screws a little distance from the surface. This not only allows you to remove the plant while you paint the timber, but also gives the plant more room to breathe and to grow.
Wooden structures are probably the most common and convenient support for plants. The traditional trellis work of fine diamonds or squares has a very delicate air, complemented by plants such as rambling roses or clematis; or you can construct a plainer and sturdier framework. Trellis is easy to build so you can easily follow you own design, whether you are planning to heighten an existing fence, make a screen from an entrance or build a lightweight garden building. It is particularly suitable for roof gardens or any site with a small ground area because it exploits the available height. A rich variety of flowers, vegetables and creepers can flourish on very little ground space if they are grown up against trellis; moreover, when the plants die down in winter, the lattice pattern is by no means ugly and can be a decoration to the garden in its own right.
Pre-fabricated trellis is very convenient but is ultimately more expensive and more time consuming than home built trellis as the lath is often flimsy and will not last. Twining plants will weaken it considerably and they will be disturbed each time the trellis is replaced. It is therefore worthwhile to build your own trellis frame, tailor made to the shape of the garden or site. Vary the width of the lattice to fit the plants: delicate plants cannot be trained over widely spaces laths without looking dwarfed and having to be constantly tied with twine.
Wooden frames provide a place for climbing plants and vines, even vegetables; their design can be varied according to the character and size of the plant. Here is a picture of a creeper resting on a suitably solid, wide spaced structure.
Plants themselves form a temporary screen, serving to separate two areas of the garden as pictured here. You can use all sorts of plants and vegetables to achieve this.
A line of cut bamboo canes simply stuck in the ground can be given a decorative curved outline. It will give sufficient support for light climbing plants and you may want to combine an evergreen creeper with an annual climber to produce constant foliage.
Plant Box Screens
A planting box is useful under a trellis grid. The method of erecting a free standing trellis is similar to building a fence and the timber requires the same preservation treatments. The laths should be glued together and then nailed with flat-headed short nails. Use a piece of wood as a template to ensure regular spacing.
Traditional diamond patter trellis looks effective against a brick wall when painted white. Fixing it a little distance away from the wall gives it more room for growth and an evergreen creeper such as ivy will be decorative throughout the year.