Privacy Screens Part Deux!

After Privacy Screens Part 1, the second half of the privacy screens/pole hider/dog agility course project was to beautify these random posts and wire with climbing vines. Vines that would add lushness and color to the back of the garden, and also hide dog messes.

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The only obstacle was that we needed vines hardy enough to withstand Sutter (oh yes, the marking already started) and the Sacramento summer heat (it reached 106 last weekend).

We already had great success with trumpet vine at our last house. We also knew our dogs never touched the stuff. (they preferred tearing up the lavender and flax) Luckily for us we experienced the puppy stages in our old home with non-toxic plants.

The plant is fairly lush throughout the year except in the winter. Also the orange flowers were so tropical we hope to fake a Hawaiian paradise in Sacramento.

Green Acres nursery in Sacramento is one of our favorites for the non-generic plant varietals not found normally in big box stores. Plus they have fabulous landscaping displays where we can get inspiration and help.

We settled on actually three different honey suckle varieties along with the trumpet vine.privacy screen pt2 001 privacy screen 002 privacy screen 003

Also if you are considering planting a vine and have a plant eating puppy around, Honeysuckle may be the way to go. According to the ASPCA Plant list it was considered non-toxic. However you know your dog best, so maybe living with a backyard desert for a few years til they grow up is the way to go.

Total cost for 5 vines $62.50…(We could have waited for a sale but were impatient to get the plants in the ground before the July heat sets in.)

Next we used the post hole digger again (the fastest way to dig holes for plants.) Centering the vine  in front of each wire screen. You don’t need more than one vine since they will gradually grow in nice and thick.

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We placed the two trumpet vines in front of the outer screens (#1 and #5) since they are the hardiest and could probably take the most Sutter “marking” abuse. The honeysuckle were placed in the middle screens (#2, #3, #4) Be sure to break up the plant’s bottom roots a bit after removing it from the pot, place in hole and cover with soil. Finally give it a nice soak… Hubs gets a cameo because he was in charge of clean up and watering. (Once more ignore Stumpy the diseased tree and brown spots in the grass…all are on the project list)

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Here’s a nice after shot of our little ones growing away…The lillies wanted in on the picture action.

progress pic on the privacy screens

We promise to post pictures along the way as we continue to “dogscape” the backyard.

Privacy Screens…Please…

Unfortunately our little house came with some friends…In the backyard we have not one, but THREE electrical poles! These ugly guys (I named them Larry, Moe and Curly) are smack dab in eye view from my back slider. Not only are they really ugly, but these poles have wire appendages that mar my entire back fence.

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The fourth guy in this gaggle is a huge man-hole. (I named this guy Fred) Like an obnoxious group of ugly dudes crowding the bar, there is no way to avoid eye contact.

Therefore I figured building privacy screens may do the trick.

A few things to keep in mind:

  1. I checked with our local utility companies, they said as long as we didn’t try to cover, crowd their space, drill into them, cause damage or block access, we’d be ok. Also they said to make sure the screens would be cheap and easy to remove, so if they needed to be ripped out, no harm no foul.
  2. AGILITY POLES! My inspiration for these screens were those agility tests for dogs, and how they weave in and out of poles lined up. Therefore the screens would be dog friendly and make the backyard more interesting for them. (I.e. allow the dogs to weave in and out as they chase squirrels, and run the perimeter.)dogs 003
  3. THE MOST IMPORTANT…We wanted a “potty” privacy screen for the dogs, a place we could train the dogs to do their business, and at the same time HIDE IT!

Hence, the moment dad came to visit with the truck, we went on a home depot run…

Interaction went like this… “Hi dad, just got here, don’t turn off the engine, lets go to Home Depot!”

(Poor guy never even had a chance.)

Home depot shopping list:

  • 10 (8ft) redwood 4×4 posts, $7.60 each
  • 5 wire screens/panels, $7.49 each
  • 5 bags of Quick setting concrete for fences and posts (1/2 a bag per each post did the trick), $3 each
  • 1 box of horse-shoe nails, $5 for one
  • 10 black solar post lights, $4.88 each
  • Left over Preserva wood stain from staining fence project (free)
  • Initial cost for bulk of project= $258.25

Time it took to complete: 1 day

(Allowing for ½ of a morning to dig and set the poles in cement, dry over-night, then a ½ afternoon to cut the wire and attach to the posts.)


1. I soaked the raised bed of soil for a few hours to allow easier digging.

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Then using a tape measure marked each place I wanted a post to be with a little black spray paint I had around. Considering the width of the wire screen was just a bit over 48 inches I made sure not to go farther than 44 inches in order to secure the screens later to the back.privacy screen 031

I also wanted to make sure there was enough space (about the width of a standard door frame) between each panel should a utility worker need to maneuver in the space.  Then with a post hole digger/shovel, I dug down 14 inches into the soil.

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2. Once all the holes were dug, Hubby held the posts in place,  in each hole in order to check the height. (We used a yardstick level sitting atop each post to achieve this).

privacy screen 032Then we strapped the post levels to each one and he kept them steady while I poured the quick drying concrete into each hole, following it with water from the hose. WARNING: Don’t fill the entire hole with concrete, instead pour a 1/4 in then add water, a 1/4 then add more water until you reach the top of the hole. (Look for a mud- like consistency with the concrete.) Also the thickness helped keep the posts in place so you can move on to the next batch.

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3. We followed this pattern for the other 8 posts, bracing them with chairs when needed. Luckily it was a hot day and the cement was definitely Quick setting. (Really only 15 minutes and the posts were standing on their own) We let these set the remainder of the afternoon, and instead called it a day cause of the heat.

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4. In the morning we set to work cutting and measuring the wire panels. Luckily we did a pretty good job setting the posts 4 inches shy of the panel width. This gave us room to cut off the rough edges, and allowed for perfect rectangles.

We cut the wire by hand with a hack saw and a blade specific for cutting metal. (Caution wear gloves and brace the wire on a level and strong surface, keeping hands free of the saw blade.)privacy screen

Luckily we only needed to cut  halfway into the wire, then with a little twisting and bending the edges came right off. We also measured the height of the posts to the panels, and realized we needed to cut the wire down to where the two wires met. This would give a clean edge. (Also we measured enough clearance from the top in order for space to add solar post lights)

5. Using the yardstick level, verified each panel would be straight, then lay the panel against the backside of each post. While one of us held the panel, the other hammered the initial horseshoe nail to secure the wire in place.  We continued to hammer nails into each corner until the panel was securely fixed to the post.

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6. Before adding the solar post lights, we sprayed the posts using a clean pump canister (normally a fast way to stain a deck) with left over Preserva Wood stain in clear. Spraying on two coats we let them dry until the evening.

7. Right before sunset we attached the solar post lights onto the top of each post following the manufacturer’s instructions.

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The final part of the project was to plant climbing vines, but more on that in the next post…Privacy Screens PART II….The never ending project!