A wooden privacy fence allows your family to enjoy your outdoor space without being subject to the surreptitious glances of neighbors and passersby. It also secures an outdoor feature such as a swimming pool and keeps animals and neighborhood children from wandering in. When it comes to landscaping, however, a wooden privacy fence can create a microclimate in your yard by reflecting additional heat and light onto nearby plants. Before you install plants near a privacy fence, consider the conditions it may create for your plants.
What Is a Microclimate?
A microclimate is specific space where the climate varies from that of the surrounding area due to specific influences. For example, a flower bed planted next to a wooden fence may receive considerably more heat than the area around it due to the reflection of sunlight from the fence and the lack of wind flow. The difference in heat and the lack of wind creates a microclimate. Microclimates may vary from the surrounding area in temperature, moisture, wind and sunlight.
Why Does a Microclimate Matter?
While a microclimate may be something you've never considered before, it does make a difference when it comes to planting along a wooden fence. The increased heat and sunlight can bake delicate plants that require partial shade and cause the plants to require greater amounts of water more frequently. Plants that require wind for pollination, particularly those with long stamens and pistils, may not thrive when placed along a privacy fence as well.
Flowers for Privacy Fences
In spite of the increased heat and lack of wind that flowers along a wooden privacy fence receive, there are certain flowers suited to such an environment. Lanceleaf coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata), hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 9, grow 1 to 2 feet tall, bursts forth with large yellow blooms and easily tolerates heat, dry soil and drought conditions. Another option includes coneflowers (Echinacea "Twilight"), also hardy in USDA zones 4 through 9, with their droopy, rose-colored petals, ability to withstand drought and dry soil. Coneflowers grow to a height of 1 to 3 feet and add a vibrant pop of color against the wood of a privacy fence.
Plants for Privacy Fences
In addition to flowers, there are several plants that will stand up to the reflected heat of a wooden privacy fence. Adam's needle (Yucca filamentosa "Color Guard"), hardy in USDA zones 5 through 10, is a bold choice with its variegated leaves of yellow and green. Able to stand up to heat, drought and full sun, this variety blooms with showy flowers in summer. Bluestem joint firs (Ephedra equisetina), hardy in USDA zones 4 through 9, are conifers with a blue-green cast that bloom with yellow flowers and red berries. A lover of sun and tolerant of drought, bluestem joint firs will thrive along the fence line.
- Fence Workshop: Landscaping & Your Fence: A Symbiotic Relationship
- Princeton University: Microclimate
- Cornell University: Microclimates
- MGBnet: Pollination
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Coreopsis lanceolata
- Fine Gardening: Echinacea "Twilight"
- Fine Gardening: Yucca filamentosa "Color Guard"
- Fine Gardening: Ephedra equisetina
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