A fence is an integral part of every garden, offering privacy from neighbours or passersby, and enhancing the feeling of your garden being an extra room to your house.
There are many fence styles to choose from, from a wooden panelled fence to hedges, but why have a wooden fence like everyone else when you can create a stunning, flower-filled ‘living wall’ style fence? With a chicken wire base, it is simple to erect, and with a little patience, can be a wonderful focal point for your garden; and here’s how.
Start With a Guide Line
All fences will need to be built on a straight line for ease and to minimise mistakes when erecting. Creating a guide line works far better than simply using your line of sight.
Make one by tying a long length of twine to a short wooden stake, and placing the stake in the ground where you wish your fence to begin. Simply unravel the twine along the route of your fence, and when you reach the point you want your fence to finish, push another wooden stake into the ground here, tightly winding the other end of the twine around it until you have a taut, straight line of twine.
To Make the Chicken Wire Fence
To create a chicken wire fence, you can either use purpose-made chicken wire stakes or wooden stakes – though wooden ‘log’ style posts can look the most attractive and are most sturdy. Ensure you have enough chicken wire for the length of the fence – preferably a wide-holed, thick wire variety – and that both your chicken wire and stakes are at least 1m high (130cm for stakes to ensure you have enough to hammer into the ground.
Mark off the bottom of the stakes at 40cm, and using your guide line, either dig holes just big enough for your stakes, place them in and or hammer them straight into the ground at 1.5m-2m intervals, starting with the beginning and end (or corner) posts. Then fasten the start of the roll of chicken wire to the beginning of your fence either using heavy-duty staples for wooden posts, or by prying the hooks open on chicken wire stakes, slipping the wire on, and pushing closed.
Do this for each post, unravelling the roll of chicken wire as you go, and making sure it is taut. Once you reach the end of the posts, simply cut the ends, bending them under themselves to avoid injuries.
To Make Your own ‘Living Wall’
Dig a 30cm wide bed at the base of your newly-laid fence, along the length of it. Make sure you prepare the soil well by digging in a good amount of compost and organic fertiliser, and making sure the soil is nice and moist.
Next, choose the plants you want you ‘living wall’ to be made up of. Flowering climbers such as Jasmine, Honeysuckle, Nasturtium and Climbing Roses can look absolutely beautiful once mature and create amazing scenting in your garden. You could also create an exciting ‘vegetable wall’ section with climbing fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, green beans and peas.
Plant your choice of seeds or plants next to the base of the fence about 30-50cm apart, and try to carefully wrap the stems through the chicken wire as they grow to encourage upward and outward growth. Think about your positioning of plants – a four meter long stretch of Honeysuckle can look stunning, but so can a blend of Jasmine and Climbing Rose blooms.
Your ‘living wall’ will take several years to mature, grow and become dense, but with care and attention, it will look stunning in time.
Estelle Page is an interior designer and passionate gardener, who always looks on her garden as an extension of her home. If you need help maintaining your plants, Estelle recommends Ambius UK. Photo by: Eric Kilby