Hello. I have a chain link fence that backs onto a mini ravine/natural type area (zone 6) that I’d like to cover up in the least expensive way possible. The length of the fence receives at least 6 hours of sunlight, apart from shady spots under the tree (I timed 4 hrs). Ideally I would love an all season flower garden that would also be a covering but I’m limited to a depth of 2 feet (my co-habitants would like to maximize lawn space instead). Is it possible to plant a hedge inside a raised bed that will be placed against the fence that will be 6” -12” deep but 2 feet tall? Or am I better off just planting the hedge in ground and then salvage whatever space I have left in front with annuals?
Thank you for reaching out to the Toronto Master Gardeners with your question. If I correctly understand the frame of your raised bed is 12 inches high and 2 feet deep. If this is the case, you do not have enough growing space for a successful hedge. I am assuming that you would like an evergreen hedge, cedar or similar as you are hoping for all season privacy. These types of hedging are trees and they need a good amount of space for their roots to grow and also importantly they need a great deal of moisture. Plants grown in raised beds will dry out much more quickly than those grown in the ground, they also need nutrition attained from the microorganisms found in the ground. But do not be discouraged I think a fusion of all of your ideas can offer both privacy and a nice colourful summer display all for a reasonable price. My suggestion would be this:
This fall plant some shrubs in the ground – I have included a link to the Master Gardeners list for successful hedging, and one for favorable conditions for growing trees and shrubs. Proper care of newly planted evergreens is crucial for success. The Master Gardeners ASK site fields hundreds of questions abut dying cedars, mostly because of poor care after planting. It would be a shame to waste funds of a tight garden budget on shrubs that you will have to pull out in a year. At the same time look for a perennial climber. Your fence would make a perfect spot for a climbing shrub such as a Clematis, or honeysuckle. The fall is a great time to find sales on these items at your local garden center. These climbers are slow growing, so you will have to wait a couple of years before they cover up that fence, but in the meanwhile you can plan for next summer. Those raised beds would be perfect for a variety of annuals including annual climbers such as Morning Glory, Moon flower, Hyacinth bean etc. they will clamor up your fence in no time filling in for your more slower growing shrubs. To maximize your garden budget, many annuals including the climbers I mentioned are easily grown from seed. Spending time going through seed catalogues is a great way to spend long winter evenings, planning your new colourful summer garden. I have included a link to our site on growing from seed, I hope you enjoy the reading material! Good luck with this exciting project.