Backyard landscaping for privacy: "what neighbors?"

My wife and I moved outside the city 3 or 4 years ago...
We love our home and love living out "in the country"... however, we live in a 400+ home neighborhood here in the country.
As a result, there are 2 homes pretty much in my back yard (our backyards meet). The cool thing about this neighborhood is even though there are alot of homes, we all have pretty big yards. The first thing people say when they come to my house for the first time is "Wow, what a huge backyard!" and it is. The property is a bit over half an acre, the back yard is not deep, but is VERY long.
We have a privacy fence in the back (which the people behind us use...) but since they sit on a bit of a small hill, the fence offers privacy only if they are kneeling in the middle of thier backyard... in otherwords, no privacy...
Ive seen trees like italian cypress and the like and have considered planting a long row of them against the fence...
My (and my wifes) concerns...
The fence is old... the trees will eventually grow and push over the fence... maybe? Doesnt bother me, I dont have kids or dogs, the people using my fence have both.
spacing... id be afraid a cypress would grow out and crowd the other cypres trees next to it...
zone and weather... we live in central Alabama. HOT summers, plenty of rain (no flooding), and beleive it or not, we do have cold winters (cold = sometimes it gets in the mid 20s, but for no more than a week)
growth speed... I want them to grow fast, i am going to need like 10 feet to get any level of privacy... however, if they get too big, how on earth would I manage them? just crop the top off or something?
FYI: I am not a landscaper nor designer nor know very much about plants. A good buddy of mine told us how to design our front garden and what plants to buy. We followed his suggestions and now have a really nice front yard. So while I know nothing, I am capable...
thanks in advance! Jazz Mann
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I solved a similar privacy problem by layering with a few different plants. Cypress grow fast. I tried a Leylandii Cyprus and it is going on 20 feet tall and is about 8 feet wide. Those may be a nice option for you. The Italian Cyprus are OK, they grow fast, but never get very wide, so you have to plant a lot of them.
I also tried hop seed bushes (or Dodonaea). They are very fast and grow wide. After two years I LOVE my plants. They come in purple and green. I told my nursery guy I was more interested in height than color so I wound up with one purple (they are popular) and three green shrubs that were larger and popping out of their pots. The greens took off and two years later about 15 feet tall and almost as wide. The little purple one is about 9 feet tall and only about 4 feet wide. I attribute some of that to being sandwiched between a butterfly bush (which I never expected to screen so well) and the larger green hop seed bush. They have an airy growth habit. I've found that if you sheer them, they will develop a denser structure.
Both of these plants are suited to my arid climate. They are in their second year now and should be able to get by with little coddling from me. When it gets up to 112 degrees in August I'll deep water them. But for the most part, they're on their own now. I always recommend you try to use plants native to your area. They are SO much easier - and you are helping preserve them. You might try searching the USDA Plants database at http://plants.usda.gov/index.html . You can put in your requirements and find matching plants and also see photos.
If you plant a few feet away from the fence (or more), the plants shouldn't do any damage. Since you seem to have room I would suggest layering with a few different shrubs. It looks nicer and seemed to fill in nicely for me. Good luck! Laura
Jazz wrote:

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Jazz wrote:

Maybe build a trellis and plant a vine?
Carl
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Has anyone seen or own any Willow Hybrids? My wife and I saw them on the net while doing some research, they seem to grow fast and provide privacy
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Anything that grows 'fast' usually grows fairly weak wood, and isn't necessarily that long lived.
--
Ann, gardening in Zone 6a
South of Boston, Massachusetts
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