Another point to bear in mind is that open-mesh fences, hedges and screens tend to filter wind rather than exclude it, which as far as plants are concerned is a good thing, since where wind is blocked by a solid structure, such as a wall or a heavy close-boarded fence, it tends to hop over the top and create peculiar down-draughts which can be damaging to a lot of plants — a point to remember when planning things to go immediately in the lee of a wall.
Apart from indicating the extent of your property, boundary screens do shelter a garden from winds, subject to the limitations just mentioned, so this is another argument in favour of not tearing everything up or knocking it down immediately you arrive, because an existing windbreak will give new plants a head start. Therefore, if your fence is just of the open post and wire variety, consider the amount of wind your garden receives and think about providing some shelter.
Fences, hedges and walls not only screen your garden from the elements, but can also give privacy if you want it, as well as providing a certain amount of protection from straying animals and children. This can be quite important in rural areas where farm animals are no respecters of gardens, and while a lot of the legal responsibility is on the farmer to ensure his stock is kept under proper control, this is no consolation if years of work are razed to the ground by a flock of wandering sheep.
The snag here is that on new estates the trend is towards open-plan front gardens. These might look very spacious and aesthetic to the planners, but can turn into a trampled morass, well seasoned with doggies’ calling cards. This understandably causes many enthusiastic gardeners not a little irritation. Before you rush out and buy a load of timber, conifers or bricks, however, check your deeds, as many specifically forbid the erection in an open-plan situation of any form of barrier, so you’re well and truly stuck with the problem. A point to bear well in mind when house-hunting, unless that sort of nuisance doesn’t bother you.
Boundary screens are also a very effective way of camouflaging eyesores beyond your property and therefore your control. On the other hand, they can also obscure pleasant views, so if the prevailing winds aren’t in this quarter, this could be an argument for removal, or at least perhaps a reduction in height.
While you are getting the hang of your plot, make a note on the scale plan of all desirable views and also those you would
Rather shut out
When you come to replanting, you can do a lot towards developing an attractive vista, as well as obscuring a tatty one. Try to see these from as many angles as possible, including upstairs and downstairs windows. In this way you will make fewer mistakes in siting the plants chosen for the purpose. Remember, also, that a few shrubs and suitable trees can prevent you from being an eyesore to others!