a: Replacing unsightly backyard walls can be expensive, and creating a vegetable garden buffer in the meantime is a great idea. And if you choose to plant something evergreen, it will continue to provide cover and look good no matter the season.
“Fortunately, there is a wide range of varieties to choose from, many with colorful, variegated leaves,” says horticulturist John Negus.
John has been a garden journalist for over 50 years and regularly answers readers’ questions Amateur gardening magazine. He has also written four books and given numerous lectures over the years on gardening.
Evergreen shrubs to hide the wall
John’s recommendations include Euonymus fortunei, an evergreen shrub that grows upright near a wall. He also suggests aucuba (also known as spotted laurel), which grows fairly quickly; photinia (try Photinia x fraseri for its red-tipped leaves); ceanothus, also known as California lilac, which has clusters of beautiful blue-purple flowers; and brachyglottis – the shrub daisy – with its silvery leaves and cheerful yellow flowers.
White-flowered viburnum can also work well in this case. And if you’re opting for a garden with a slightly more tropical look, Fatsia japonica (available at Nature Hills) may fit the bill with its large, glossy leaves.
“Many larger garden centers have shrubs trained on trellis boards, which makes them very useful for providing instant, mobile screening,” John adds.
“When choosing your screening plant, check the label to make sure it suits the growing conditions in your garden – consider sun, shade and soil type,” he advises. Suggestions for shade are listed below.
Also make sure that the plant you choose has not been determined to be an invasive plant in your area.
Climbing plants for trellis training
If conditions permit, you can choose an evergreen flowering climber. Train it to a trellis mounted on your wall. This composite arch design from Amazon is a stylish option.
“One of the best white-flowered climbers is Trachelospermum asiaticum or its close relative T. jasminoides,” says John. “Both bloom from mid to late summer and are relatively hardy. However, they are spreading and may need pruning to ensure they remain a suitable size.
Instead, consider ‘Avalanche’ jasmine, a climber with evergreen leaves and pure white flowers that bear buds 10 to 12 feet long. “If this is too large, the Jasmine Joe, which is between 3 and 6 feet long, may be more suitable,” John adds. “You have to take into account the size of the wall and how high the trellis is.
Another option is Holboellia latifolia, also known as the (slightly less elegant) broadleaf sausage vine. It is evergreen in temperate climates, with glossy, dense green leaves and, in spring, deliciously fragrant creamy violet or lemon flowers. It also bears purple berries in the fall. It is a vigorous climber but pruning it after flowering will keep it under control.
For a more tropical look, consider passionflower – an evergreen plant again in warm climates. Its complex flowers and orange berries will add a touch of liveliness to any dull background.
“Instead, choose from several beautifully variegated, small-leaved varieties of ivy (Hedera helix), such as ‘Eva’, ‘Goldchild’, ‘Golden Ingot’ or ‘Midas’,” John suggests.
Plants for screening shaded walls
If your wall is in deep shade, most flowering climbers will be off limits.
“However, the firethorn plant, which should be trained to be a climber, should thrive with horizontal branches tied to tight wire covered in plastic,” says John. Also known as pyracantha, it produces sweet flowers in the spring and fiery berries in late fall and into winter.
Hydrangea anomaly subsp. petiolaris (available at Nature Hills) is a self-attached species that needs only a small amount of support when budding and should thrive as well. Once created, they will happily adhere to the brick.
If you want to add more plants to specifically cover the base of a shaded wall, John recommends ferns. “To choose from are Polystichum polyblepharum, Adiantum venustum, Polypodium cambricum ‘Richard Kayse’ and Adiantum capillus-veneris, the true fern.” They all do best in moist soil, so work in plenty of organic matter that conserves moisture, he adds.
An ugly wall doesn’t have to be a cause for concern — just see it as an opportunity to bring new plants to your plot. And if you want to go further, give it a good cleaning and a bit of paint too – white, grey, dark green; Whatever garden wall paint idea fits your scheme. Once this is done, you may decide that replacement is not necessary at all.