Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wisteria Arbor

Finally, after nearly seven long years the adjacent property owner has moved. It has been a huge relief and we are very relieved to have new neighbors next door. What do they have to do with the wisteria arbor? I will explain.

Our houses are about 100 feet apart, but there was no privacy and division between the houses. Not a good thing. I have endeavored almost from the first day we moved here to provide a block from this property.

I looked long and hard to find some before pictures but was unsuccessful so I will talk you through the issues. Due to the set up of the adjacent house, their parking area is in their backyard, straight out from my deck. I wanted an evergreen block and a structural block as well. I found some junipers (thanks Barry for taking me to the fields to handpick the ones I wanted) that have worked well. The junipers are the straight and tall evergreens behind the arbor. You can just see the top 5-6 feet of them. They are slowly thickening up here. I am very impressed with this type of juniper. It has done well considering all of the trees are planted in amongst mature oak tree roots and under a large canopy of oak leaves. I am told this is a 'Columnar' juniper. Mr. Fix-it planted three, while I planted the other three. It was not an easy job digging the huge holes under oaks, but ever so worth it. The junipers themselves were 10-11 feet tall with 27" rootballs. VERY heavy and large. We had to roll the trees into the holes. Even at that, help was needed in the form of my oldest son Brian, and his friend Jesse.

I always wanted an arbor and wasn't sure where I would put it. I decided on this area between the two houses because it would provide privacy and I could make it much higher than a standard privacy fence. It would also provide a bit of a physical as well as visual barrier, the structural block I was seeking.

I came up with a workable design I thought would be functional enough to hold vines like wisteria. I purchased the wood (5-6x6x12, 8-2x6x10, several 2x4s, 4-4x8) privacy lattice panels, hunter green oil stain and miscellaneous hardware, then began building. I notched all joints to make the arbor structurally stronger. Mr. Fix-it rented a power auger and dug the post holes and together we 'planted' them. I did the rest. It took a while but I was SO happy when it was done!

Initially I left the lattice panels white and chose to add various accouterments to decorate the glaring white. After a few years the glaring white turned a dirty black with dirt and mildew forming on both sides of the arbor. Since I now have new neighbors, I decided to make a few changes to the arbor. I washed the dirt off and used Fusion plastic spray paint to paint the lattice panels green. I think the new color makes the arbor blend in better with the landscape, but Mr. Fix-it liked it better white. I just couldn't see washing that big thing (35 feet long by about 9 feet tall) every few years. I hope the hunter green color will not show the inevitable dirt. I painted both sides even though I don't ever see the other side of the arbor.

I did have a huge woodpile here next to the chain link, then the junipers then the arbor. I removed the wood pile and planted a few silverberries and four white Crepe Myrtles. The buffer of the shrubs and the arbor should provide both a noise, physical and visual barrier should I ever get such neighbors again. I am truly enjoying my new neighbors. I have lived all over the world in several subdivisions and apartments and never had a problem with neighbors before, but I do realize all people are different and respect that. That is why in my own little way, I chose to build the barrier and block with the arbor in order to provide me my freedom to do my thing.
So that is the story of my wisteria arbor. There may have been better methods of handling this situation (a 20 foot tall electrified concrete wall comes to mind), but I did try to be practical in an extremely difficult situation.

I guess I should talk about the wisteria. I am not a fan of wisteria due to its tendency to take over. This arbor is on the north side of three oak trees. The arbor does get some morning and afternoon sun, but is mainly shaded. I planted a Chinese wisteria on each end of the arbor, and the Dropmore honeysuckle in the middle of the arbor. I am hopeful that someday the two wisterias will meet in the middle and the honeysuckle will hold its own amongst them. So far the honeysuckle is winning and is reaching toward some low hanging oak tree branches. That will have to be rectified soon. The wisterias provide even more height and are doing OK. Last year's freeze almost killed them both. Neither wisteria has ever bloomed and I don't expect them to since they are in shade. That is OK, the foliage is fine with me, especially since it is so full and tends to add height to the arbor. The picture above shows the wisteria on the east side of the arbor. It is tied up all neat and tidy-for now.

in the garden....


  1. Looks like you came up with a perfect solution to the privacy issue. I like the green color better than the white. Green seems to blend in better with the plants and makes your yard look bigger.

    Always Growing

  2. Great way to block a view or give much needed privacy Tina. The Arbor is really designed well too. :)

  3. The Arbor must of been a very big undertaking, I never realized it wasn't supported on both the front and back, built like a tunnel, I think I like yours better.

  4. The arbor is a good idea! Soon it will be covered with beautiful purple flowers.

  5. I like your arbor, and the green better than the white. I like the "windows" on it too. That's a nice touch.

  6. Thanks all! I will have to tell Mr. Fix-it that the vote seems to be for green-just my thoughts too! It has worked well.

  7. Wow, this looks like a lot of work, but well worth it! This is a great way to add some privacy, and I am on your side about the green--it blends in better with the surrounding plants. Thanks for your kind comments on my last post:)

  8. Beautiful arbor Tina! I'm impressed with how much of the construction you did yourself! I like the lattice painted green.

  9. Won't that be gorgeous covered in vines with those long wisteria blooms dripping everywhere? I would like an arbor like that to screen off the silo and old barn.

    In my area there aren't many vines that get that large, sweet autumn clematis and grape being the only two I can think of.

    BTW, hope your new neighbors turn out to be good ones.

  10. Rose, SO well worth it! It is functional and provides privacy for sure.

    Garden Girl, Thanks! I am the carpenter here most of the time (at least for outside projects). Hubby does the messy greasy work on cars. Not my thing at all. Do check out Freecycle as you will not be sorry. Lots of good things. The idea is to keep stuff out of the landfill. Your parents garden is SO beautiful.

    Marnie, You caught that about my last neighbors huh? My new ones are great. She is a high school biology teacher and a very involved mom. She is a responsible pet owner and just a sweet and honest lady. I am so thrilled! We say hi thru the arbor when I am out back. Kind of funny but it works. Sweet Autumn Clematis is an excellent vine for something like this. I may even put one on mine. Since they stay semi evergreen and don't mind the shade. I'll give the wisteria some time first though.

    ttyl-Going on a wildlife walk. I guess I should pack my shovel:)

  11. Looks great. There sure have been a lotta changes in the last year. Good thnig the house is mostly the same from the front or I might drive right past it next time I go down south.

  12. Whoops, I forgot, but in case you have not left yet and check in again before leaving....DO NOT forget to pack sunscreen....the mother in me but we all know how redheads burn.

  13. I'm glad your new neighbors are good ones. When they are easy to "love," it sure does make life more worthwhile. We could not ask for better ones here in Florida. We are not here most of the time now, and our next-door neighbors have been lifesavers. They keep an eye on our property and help our daughter when she needs it. They have retired here from the Midwest, and so we have more than a little in common with them. Your conversation through the arbor reminds me of the movie What Lies Beneath, one of my favorites. I hope you don't get spooked like Michelle Pfeiffer's character did! :>}

  14. Your arbor was one of the first things I noticed with my first visit into your gardens. I love the arbor and how it is so functional. I like it with the signs and fun stuff and also with the window frames! I like the green color best as it seems to blend into nature better then the stark white. White if for picket fences. LOL...

    By the way, I told the Saint about your posting on Freecycle yesterday. I said you got a truck load of bricks for free. He just looked at me with that, “You are not signing up for Free stuff” look. Then I asked him why he didn’t ask what your plans were for the bricks. He laughed and said, “I assumed she was going to build another pathway for bowling balls or bottle trees or something”! I had to laugh, he went on to say he does think your bottle tree is cool but the bowling balls still are a bit over the edge in his mind... I think it is funny that he still holds these things in his mind. He did pay attention while on our first garden tour....

  15. Hi Tina, your projects are so big, and they turn out so well, I love the arbor, count another vote for green! I am amazed that you used the fusion paint, I thought sure you have stained it when it was built, like the posts. It looks like it has always been green, it blends into the landscape better that way. I do hope the wisteria blooms for you someday, but the honeysuckle is one of my favorites so I have to root for it too. You are so full of good ideas!

    ps, I leave comments on blogger blogs using the blogger sign in, easier that way, and wordpress on wordpress blogs, it does it automatically somehow, pretty cool, huh?

  16. Hey Mom, No walk today, tomorrow will be better I think. Too busy redoing the bathroom and trimming the yard. Rain! It has its good sides. The house should not change too much more, but will become harder to see from the road so you'll for sure have to look:)

    Walk2write, Welcome! You are such a good writer and have a lovely blog. I am so glad you have wonderful neighbors. It makes all the difference when in our sanctuaries (home!). I don't remember that scene from the movie with Michelle Pffeifer, but don't worry, no spooking here:)

    Skeeter, Now you tell the Saint quit making fun of my little whimsical garden or I might just have to sneak a pink bowling ball into that pretty impala of his (a long with some roly polys!) Oops, already did that didn't I? Did you tell him he might find some free computers? Free bricks to go with the ones you already got? Freecycle is a good group now I tell ya! Hmmm a path with bowling balls....I'll let him know if that choice is choosen!

    Hi Frances, Thanks! Yes, VERY big project and VERY big arbor. I used the Fusion only on the plastic lattice, oil stain on the wood. That may have been confusing the way I worded it all. All wood was stained prior to assembly and it has held up ever so well. I have lots of the green in the garden as it goes so well and seems to recede into the garden. The way I like it.

    I don't get it with the wordpress sign in. Do you need an account? I don't have one. And if I get one will it then feed the emails to my email? Seems this Blotanical thing has gotten a lot of bloggers in a tizzy about their blogs and feeds. Even you! I was surprised that when you left Sitemeter alone and all turned out well that you tried to 'fix' your feed with Blogger. Please tell me you are not planning to switch too? It will work out I am sure.

  17. That's a brilliant solution, Tina - and I also like the green version better. No lack of hardscape in your garden, is there? and now free bricks! You sound happier than if they were giving away free diamonds ;-]

    One of my nicest neighbors is also a teacher - enjoy your new friend!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  18. Tina, he works on computers to make us a living. The last thing he wants to see when he gets home is another computer. lol. It is all I can do to get him to look at our computer, much less get another one! When i want him to look at an email, I must send it to him at work! LOL.... Hummmm, a pink ball, maybe a purple one as I like purple in the garden... tee hee. Now you can keep the remainder of your roly poly's, you gave us plenty with the nanner tree.. LOL... I have yet to find one in the car but think that may be the end of plant transplanting from TN to GA or GA to TN...

  19. What a creative way of dealing with this problem. I love your birdhouses on the posts...I'm about to do the same thing..just haven't yet figured out where I want them. Oh...and I'm so jealous over your bricks...what a find...

  20. I think y'all did a fine job Tina. It looks really good and has such a warm and inviting look. I do hope the wisteria behaves!

  21. Loved the arbor Tina. Great way to gain some privacy. That's why I leave the shrubbery so high on either side of the house. But sadly 3/4 of the Ligustrim {sp} plants on the West side is dieing. I'm not sure if it's from too much rain or maybe someone is helping it. I have azaleas on the East side.
    Got some more rain this evening. Not that we didn't need it. Ha ha. Probably will get more. Weekend is to be very hot. AGAIN.
    Sure glad you got some good neighbors this go round. I know the others were a pain.

  22. Tina, what a creative solution to the privacy issue. I’m sure your new neighbors will be appreciative. It’s interesting how we try to carve out private space. I’ve only seen really healthy wisteria in England.

    Skeeter, What a funny photos of Cheetah and Sheba in the post below. They are gorgeous as were your fuchsias.

  23. Annie, Oh yes, I'll take garden stuff over diamonds any day! I am so glad you have a nice neighbor! That makes life so much more pleasant. Speaking of neighbors, have the trees recovered from their trimming yet?

    Skeeter, I forgot the Saint doesn't want to look at any more computers when he comes home. I'll have to think of another angle. And to the plants, once your nanner gets going he won't mind it so much anymore (I hope!)

    Rhonda, Hello! The poles the birdhouses are on are also a Freecycle find! How cool is that? I like mine. I used them as a divider between the front and backyard. You can't see the chicken wire and clematis growing between the poles but it will fill in soon. We had some chickadees this summer. Now I think hornets are in the birdhouses. Pesky bugs. I know you'll find the right spot too and I'll look forward to seeing what you do.

    TC, The wisteria is behaving too too well since it is in shade. I do hope it drips with purple blooms one day but only time will tell. Thanks!

    Lola, Too bad about your privet. But, I will tell you I am not a fan of privet in any form. It tends to take over and can get ratty looking as you know. I think it might not be happy in its location. Since it is in full sun you might try either silverberry or red tips? I love both of mine much better than privet.

    Sarah, I think it is human nature to try to carve out 'our' space no matter how much you like your neighbors. My good friend said it best, "I don't particularly want to share my morning cup of java with my neighbors." Privacy is good for both parties. I am surprised there is not more wisteria up there. TONS of it down here and it takes over. Kind of like kudzu, "The vine that ate the south". Might have to post it sometime as I have to remember Maine is so much more different than here. My sister and mother remind me all the time.

  24. Sarah, thanks. I do think my fur babies are funny little buggars... lol...

    Tina, yep, gotta figure out another angel... tee hee...

    Thundering and raining, I need to get off this thing now...
    Night all....

  25. Hi Tina, just use your regular info to sign in, name, tina, email and url for this blog. It will remember you from then on and you shouldn't have to do it again. To get the reply sent to you, hmm, I don't know, but I think you have to click on something that I don't have up yet. I don't know but will look into it. You might just have to check back, that is what I do to all of them, I don't want all those emails, LOL. Come visit me!

  26. Got you updated Frances. Thanks for coming to get me. These changes!!!!

  27. Hey Tina

    You and your Mr have built a wonderful structure for privacy and to drape your wisteria! I look forward to seeing it decked out in all it's glorious color next spring!


  28. I bet the wisteria will work.

    I have seen arbors that have been just drenched with wisteria, the vines covering every square inch of the structure. If they bloom, they are quite beautiful...

    P.S. Thanks for all the recent comments on my blog! I really appreciate it.

  29. Did you mention what kind of junipers they are, Spartans? Maybe I missed it. Great arbor by the way, it looks like a lot of work was envolved.

  30. Gail, Thanks. Not sure when the wisteria will ever bloom but I will for sure post it. It never has in the 4 years its been here:(

    Parsec, Thanks! I hope to see lots of purple blooms. And you are welcomed.

    Les, LOTS of work but so worth it. I believe the junipers are Chinese columnar ones? Hard to get a good answer. They were field grown and not well labeled. There are so many types that as long as it works I am happy. I wish it could've been Juniperus virginiana but they don't sell those around here.

  31. This privet that is dieing has been here ever since the house was built in 1979. At least they were here when we moved in in 91. That place has been flooded before longer & it didn't seem to hurt it. I like the privacy it provides. Will red tip do the same thing?

  32. Lola, I have tried to find out how long privets generally live and have not had much luck. But, since they have been there since 1979 that is almost thirty years, a long time for any shrub. Especially a shrub that grows very fast like privet do. Faster growing trees and shrubs will not have as long of a life as the slower growing ones. That being said, it MAY be that your privet hedge has gotten tired. It also may be a problem with your soil. I have found privet needs a ph between 6-7 (generally). If your soil is acidic (below the 6), that may be a problem too for the privet. I recommend you get a soil test right away and find out what is going on. If the soil is good, then it is maybe just that the hedge is old and should be replaced. Even red tips will degrade over time. But it would take a long time. Probably about 30 years like the privet. Also, I am not entirely sure red tips would do real well in flood prone areas. I will have to check. But, I did find the privet can tolerate excess water, just like you said. I really believe it is either it is too old or the soil is out of whack. I cannot for sure say without seeing it but a soil test is the only way to go.The sooner the better so you can amend the soil if that is the problem, and I suspect it is at least part of the problem. Let me know what you find out.

  33. I like the green arbor better, but for privacy, the white will really stop the eye. You could paint the neighbors side white, and it would really ensure privacy in your garden, but leave the green for you to look at.

    As far as washing it, there are products on the market that come in bottles that attach to your water hose. Just hook it up and spray away. They work wonderfully, too. Also, there is one for windows. I know about this stuff because I just purchased some and used it this weekend. Fantastic!

    I love your garden.