During spring and summer we all tend to spend more time enjoying the outdoors part of our home. A lazy lunch on the patio on Sunday, perhaps, or relaxing on the deck with a cool drink as the sun goes down. Maybe an impromptu picnic in the backyard.
If you happen to live in a remote country setting, your closest neighbors are probably deer, bunnies and other assorted wildlife. But for most of us, suburban living means that our homes are in fairly close proximity to those of our human neighbors. Sometimes a little too close for comfort. You don’t have to be a hermit to want a little privacy when relaxing in your backyard. What can you do to create a private haven in your backyard while continuing to live in harmony with your neighbors?
Creating privacy with trees and shrubs provides a number of benefits. Firstly, of course, living plants are a lot more pleasing than a blank wall or an expanse of bare fence. Additionally, a hedge or some appropriately-sized trees are a friendlier barrier between you and your neighbors than a solid wall. 'Appropriately sized' is an important factor here. A relatively small space would not be a suitable location for a stand of trees that would grow to a great height because they would eventually dominate your yard, blocking out all sunlight and probably becoming a bone of contention with your neighbors! Always determine the expected mature height before you invest in any trees that are intended to form a barrier.
So what to plant? Every situation will have its own unique challenges, but here are our best evergreen trees for privacy hedges…
Green Giant is an evergreen conifer with a delightful conical habit and dense, dark green foliage that reaches right down the ground. A few Green Giants, planted about 5 feet apart will create a very dense screen; plant them further apart for a more open feel. Green Giant doesn’t need a lot of TLC. It’s a hardy plant that tolerates almost any soil and is resistant to damage from ice and snow. Additionally, it is heat and drought tolerant, once established, and resistant to disease, pests and even deer.
Although it doesn’t need to be pruned, you should be aware that it can grow to a height of 30 to 50 feet. If you are planting a row of Green Giants as a living fence, you can easily keep it trimmed to 8 feet, 10 feet or whatever works in your situation. This is a good time to be planning your privacy needs because fall will be here before we know it and Green Giant is ideal for fall planting. As you can see, this tree is definitely a favorite of mine! But there are other ways to use plants to enhance your privacy.
If you can wait until next spring, you might consider Dark Green, my favorite Arborvitae. Plant The Dark Green in a row about 5 to 7 feet apart in the spring and in a few years, you’ll have a lustrous green hedge that maintains its color through the winter. You’ll need patience as it’s not a fast grower, but it is worth the wait.
Trellis plants Just a reminder that, in a recent column, I described some “social climbers;” vine-like plants that cling to pergolas, gazebos and latticework. If you missed it, you can find that column at our informational website, www.landsteward.org. A strategically placed trellis can provide privacy but in a more open, less dense way than a row of Green Giants.
Of course, you can get a much quicker hedge by planting deciduous trees or shrubs as they are faster growing than evergreen plants will be.
You are welcome to email me a few details about your specific challenges and I’ll try to help you create a private haven in your backyard.