Solid Fence Screen Garden Sign

2 Materials
4 Hours

You know the proverb: the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence! Well, 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. No grass - just a cool, refreshing, inviting pool that we don't have access to :) As if the sightline isn't bad enough, noise transference is an issue too.

This post is about a project for the garden that we 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 measured out the width of the area we wanted to cover on the fence. Then he ran 12 pieces of 1x6x6 cedar through a table saw to cut off the rounded edges so he had flat edges to work with. He glued the boards together using carpenter’s glue made for outdoor use (it’s brown in colour), and clamped them until dry to form this panel.

Because we dry stacked the structure of our little rock garden, it has suffered erosion over the years but Hubs loves the time worn look, so we moved 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 also add some shims on the vertical boards to make it plumb.

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.

Hubs moved the panel into place. As he was doing that, I noticed that our pom pom topiary needs a haircut (there's instructions on how to do that on our website)! It went onto our ever expanding list of things to do in the garden.

Hubs secured the screws while I snapped away with the camera. When I stepped back to look at the ‘big picture’, I noticed two more 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 panel. 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 panel.

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 above, 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 planted four Sedum ‘Autumn Charm’ purchased from the garden centre. 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.

The key to a successfully balanced rock garden (or any garden for that matter) is to have thrillers, fillers and spillers. With the sedum acting as fillers, I think we’re finally getting there. Head to our blog to see the steps we took to plant these beauties.

We were understandably in a rush to get the screen up, so I didn't further emblish the screen. My original intent was to fill in some of the blank space at the top by painting on the garden sign you see below. It would add some interest while we waited for the ginkgo tree to spread in late Spring.

However, we added a hanging planter with wave petunias instead. It filled in the space nicely for now, but I still might paint on the sign next Spring so we have something to look at while that corner is still sparse.

What do you think? Should we add the sign or literally 'leaf it at that' and leave it blank as shown below? I'm on the fence (pun intended), so help us decide!

The wave petunias finished off the corner with a pop of white and after a few weeks, our solid fence screen is looking like it fits right in! As you can see below, our pom pom topiary got its haircut too :)

All-in-all, I'd have to say that things went 'swimmingly'!

See some helpful tricks we used (there's a tip on a tool we couldn't do without on this project) and even more pictures on our blog. You'll find some great befores and afters - and also links to our other garden features!

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Suggested materials:

  • Cedar   (Big box store)
  • Metal Motif   (Garbage find)

Birdz of a Feather
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

Frequently asked questions

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3 of 5 questions
  • Marie Marie on May 28, 2019

    Much improved look! What about adding the same to the other corner to balance the whole back corner?

  • Pam Eidshun Pam Eidshun on May 28, 2019

    What about color in the board but very watercolor type so you can see grain?

  • Sherry Burkman Sherry Burkman on May 29, 2019

    It’s lovely, but I’m curious how you address the wood shrinking and expanding with temperature and moisture changes.


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