Starting the natural fence

Thank you so much for the kind words and encouragement on last week’s post. We were both pleasantly surprised by the number of comments and the outpouring of support. You guys are awesome! Virtual hugs for everyone!

I remembered that we finished a project this summer that I have yet to share. So before we dive into some other topics (like Paris and what we like/don’t like about living in an alternative space and PARIS!), let’s take a look at the start of the natural fence. Ta da!


… It’s the 5 new trees next to the fence… I feel like you’re not impressed…

To be fair, as with most landscaping projects, this feels a bit like “before and before” pictures, rather than “before and after”, because we need everything to grow to achieve the desired effect.

But, let’s back up. We bought the extra lot (LOTS of detail on that here) but never intended to redo the fence to make it part of our yard. Still, it needs some barriers to prevent people from walking through it/dumping trash/messing with the garden we intend to build. In the back we’ll install something a bit more standard, but up front we thought it would be nice to plant a living fence in the form of a row of evergreens.


Aaron spotted some nice sized specimens at Home Depot earlier this spring. We planned to grab the trees we needed when they went on clearance at the end of the summer. So we bided our time.. and apparently we bided too long… We stopped by in mid-August to find all of the shrubs had been sold!

Thankfully the interwebs knew we needed some shrubbery, and after a little research on what should grow well, we landed on Leyland Cypress. The Tree Center had several heights available and good reviews. We decided on the 3′ – 4′ option (mostly based on price) and ordered seven. They were on sale for $44.50 each and we scored free shipping for spending more than $100. Winning!

It’s been a few years since we drug hundreds of pounds of bricks out of our yard, but we were quickly reminded just how much debris is lurking beneath the surface of these lots that once contained a brick home… and now contain a good part of that home beneath the surface.  This is just some of the pieces we hauled out of one hole.


It wasn’t totally smooth sailing, but by taking turns digging we were able to plant a tree about every 35 minutes. We opted to stagger the trees (using the measurements from here) so that the fence fills in faster.


We also only planted five of them. As we were working, we decided that the area furthest from our fence is too shaded to support this type of tree. Eventually, we’ll add a section of horizontal ipe to finish off the row.


Here are a few before and after shots.

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The whole tree buying experience got us really inspired to think about what other trees we ultimately want for the yard. We talked about adding something that has nice fall color near the front of the yard and grabbing additional evergreens to stick in the back corner (which is a bit bare after we lost a tree). We almost added more to our order, but decided that planting seven trees in one weekend was more than enough. I’m so glad we waited, because we knew just what to do with the two extra trees.


We waited a week to put these guys in their new home (apparently 5 trees in one day was quite enough.) In the meantime, the temperature spiked back to normal August levels and we ended up digging these holes in full sun next our steel paneled fence (which gets really warm.) Basically it felt like we were on the surface of the sun… minus our skin literally melting away. But you get the point. It was REALLY hot and we ran into even more bricks, rocks and chunks of asphalt back here. Progress was slow and we’ll admit that neither hole was the requisite diameter. But they’re in and so far they’re alive.


So now we water and wait.





  1. I love that you guys aren’t afraid of making modern choices for your exterior. I can totally see it in my mind. I’m sure it’ll look as hot as you were planting the last two!

    1. Hahaha! We were very hot, so I hope the same thing 😉

  2. Love it! My parents did something similar in their yard after they lost two giant oak trees from a tornado. Their lot is on a hill and everybody else is in a valley below so it felt very exposed. They’ve filled in nicely over the years, and look great!

    1. Nice! Any idea what trees they used? We did some research and this seemed like a good choice, but we’re far from landscaping experts.

  3. we also bought the lot next to our house that used to have a house on it (burned down 20 years ago). For now a local woman grows tons of food on the lot and we’re happy to let her since that means we don’t have to deal with maintaining the weeds for now. But it’s SO empty. Except for the vegetables there is nothing growing there and since food vegetables are annuals it gets pretty barren for 6 months of the year. I think the problem is exacerbated by the fact that the next neighbor over also has zero trees or any plants besides grass in their lot either.

    I think your tree fence will be a nice contrast to the other fence while still providing some separation. At least it looks like the poison ivy is under control for now. So glad we don’t have that over in the NW.

    1. Wow! That sounds pretty barren. Do you have windows facing that lot? We can’t actually see into our extra lot, because there are no windows on the second floor on that side of the building.

      We’re very jealous that you don’t have poison ivy problems. I would call it contained, but not totally eliminated. Hopefully next year…

  4. Will you guys eventually make it part of your main yard not by re-doing the whole fence, but by putting in a gate/archway so you can walk through your main yard to the side yard?

    (I was just curious because it sounds like it could be pretty and kind of Secret Garden-ish. I’ve wondered about something like that since you guys bought the side lot)

    1. Yes, once the extra lot is a bit more private and secure, we’ll probably add a gate in the ipe section of the fence that’s at the rear of the yard 🙂

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