Shut Up And Dig

Garden Flag Reveal!

Laurie Lewis10 comments691 views
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My most recent post about garden flags included muslin garden flags that I tie-dyed and the promise to show readers what they look like hanging in my garden, where they’re supposed to not just look pretty but screen some bad views. So here’s the view from my back garden toward the interior sidewalk and neighbor’s storage area beyond. It’s not perfect, but I’m liking it.

The view from the sidewalk.

One imperfection is that the pink is supposed to be burnt orange, to go with the dragon hanging on my shed and the fall colors on the Fothergilla and Oakleaf Hydrangea in this min-border. Not to mention the largest block of color in the whole garden, the roof of the shed, which I hadn’t even noticed when assessing the dominant colors in the garden.

The roof I didn’t see.

So why did the burnt orange dye I used turn out pink? Because I used left-over dye mix that had been sitting in my frig too long, believing what I’d read that they could be stored for weeks. Turns out, the dyes weaken every day they’re stored.

Oh, well. I like pink and it goes great with purples and chartreuse.

And I MUCH prefer the resulting colors over the primary colors used traditionally and to this day in prayer flags. (It was my complaint about those colors in this first post that led to the suggestion I make my own flags.)

Now for the front yard, where another batch of flags, dyed all the same color and then stenciled, are now hanging. They help screen the view of a parking lot, but they’ve already faded a lot since this shot was taken a month ago. I’ve learned my lesson about dyeing with Rit or, for even shorter-lasting results, vegetable dyes.

Reviewing the Options

In the final analysis, dyeing my own flags has been a TON of fun and a creative outlet over winter, but it’s also been a TON of work, and it’ll be an on-going job to adjust placement, replace torn flags, etc, etc.

A more effective, better looking screening solution and the least amount of work in the long run would be a small amount of lattice – say 3 feet tall, mounted at 4 feet above the ground in this case.   Horizontal (not diamond-shaped) lattice would nicely complement the iconic banding on our 1937 International Style homes.

Lattice would also be preferable to screening with plants. As much as I (obviously) love plants, I’m not crazy about the ‘Emerald Green’ Arborvitaes I planted here – they’re very slow-growing, and get dead spots where they don’t get enough light. Plus, in tight spaces, tall hedges usually create more problems than they solve.

If lattice were allowed by my coop, you better believe I’d be using it, instead of these flags or the evergreens that have died on me and the ones that might still.

Posted by

Susan Harris
on April 1, 2016 at 6:45 am, in the category Designs, Tricks, and Schemes.


  1. Not a fan, either, of the arborvitae. I use a couple of Nellie Stevens hollies to block my neighbors on both sides. Of course, I also have two native American hollies and my neighbor has three enormous ones, so I’m covered as far as using the native hollies.

  2. I can’t believe that in 20 years of thinking and writing about garden design I’ve never come across this idea before! So clever, so pretty and so simple and gets around all those difficult bylaws about built structures. And I agree with Evelyn – the added magic of watching them flutter in the breeze means they’re not just blocking an ugly view – they’re creating a beautiful view in themselves. I’m thinking like Chris suggested that, as I’m not the most artistic person in the world, I could try something like this using an already printed outdoor fabric.
    Thanks for a great idea Susan.

  3. Love the flag idea. These ideas are coming perilously close to hanging laundry out to dry :). It’s just a matter of perspective, how beautiful it is, right? We could start with our prettiest sheets, dresses and skirts, so as not to upset the neighbors….

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