Here's a photo of the before:
And here's what it looks like now with the new screening fence/trellis that we finished installing this weekend:
What can I say? I love the horizontal modern thing. This is made entirely of untreated cedar (chemically treated wood = gross). Cedar comes with it's own naturally produced insect repellents and it smells good to boot. I used 4x4 posts and 2x2 slats.
I also opted out of cement to hold the posts in. First, cement makes installation a pain in the ass. Second, a lot of good tamping down of our clay soil makes the support for the posts about as strong as cement. Third, I've heard cement can actually lead to rot, because it doesn't allow the part of the post that's cemented in to breath.
I think the trellis adds a nice visual element to the garden, even if it doesn't screen the heater 100%. It will also shield the house just a little from the hot afternoon sun. Now I'm pondering growing a vine or two up the trellis. Maybe a nice Carolina jessamine for spring blooms and fragrance, or a crossvine for the hummingbirds. But, vines could also end up being too busy.
So, I may just leave it like it is, serving as a simple background for the multi-trunked desert willow (Chilopsis linearis). It's in the year-two "creep phase" (I've always heard this plant rule of thumb: Year One: Sleep; Year Two: Creep; Year Three: Leap). Can't wait for year three...