Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Need to hide something? Screen it.

When I built a small shed I had to find a new home for our 15-foot aluminum canoe. I moved the canoe close to our back fence. The neighbors wouldn't have to look at it there.

Our canoe sat, propped off the ground on a 2 by 4 frame until summertime. Occasionally, we hauled it to a nearby lake, paddled it about, and then returned it to its home at the back fence.

Wherever I looked, the canoe and kayak "focals" were always catching my eye.

I enjoy the view from our upstairs bathroom window. Every day I check the weather outside and note any floral progress in the garden. That upended canoe was not a very attractive focal point. I had planted hostas, bleeding hearts and Spanish bluebells in front of the canoe, but that aluminum behemoth rose above the greenery.

I was just getting used to it, when the situation worsened. We acquired a BRIGHT yellow 14.5-foot kayak. Yep. The upended yellow kayak resides above the canoe.

Our kayak and canoe "living out in the open". A small fruiting cherry tree is establishing itself on the left.

From every angle, these watercraft were an eyesore.

What to do? Cover them with a blue tarp? Or a silver tarp? Or devise something permanent because these watercraft were staying a while?

Because our grape arbor looked attractive, it presented me with a design precedent.

I didn't seek wifely approval this time. I instantly knew what would look good. I hurriedly sketched my plan and made another trip to The Home Depot. I purchased two additional pressure-treated 4 by 6 posts, poured concrete footings and plumbed my two new posts. I built the screen of closely spaced 1 by 2's and (with help because of all the weight of the wood) mounted it to the front face of the posts. I could not find upper beams long enough, so I used metal splicing plates and dozens of nails to assemble beams to suit my need. The new upper beams matched those of the grape arbor in style and provide support for hanging planters.

The new screen is quite effective in disguising the watercraft.

The watercraft screen from another viewpoint.

I made a pair of wood plant carriers to match the screening and hung them with lightweight dog chains. The screen lies in near-total shade, so I plant primroses, fuschias, and impatiens in the plant carrier baskets.

I hardly notice the canoe and kayak at all these days. I'll soon plant climbing hydrangeas to train up the posts, which will help soften the architecture of the screen and, when established, will add a new vertical dimension to the existing greenery.


  1. yeah, i'd say it looks 100% better... no ugly (i mean, bright) yellow kayak blurring your vision... nice lattice work :)

  2. Thanks. This is one project that made a huge difference in the "look" of the backyard. I have other ideas for screening that may happen this summer.

  3. I have a iron arbor with grape leaf design/ with 2 seats. I was wondering what something like that is worth?