vegetative street barriers

Hi, My wife and I have lived in Altamonte Springs (Orlando) for a few years and are slowly getting into the process of redeveloping our 2/3 acre corner lot. The place has enormous potential, especially with 25 - 30 various oak trees giving us lots of natural shade and beauty, but the gardens need a ton of work. In years gone by they were quite lovely with azaleas everywhere, but the Azaleas grew quite leggy (since pruned back down) our fish pond is surrounded by a jungle of ferns, the garden beds are choaked with weeds, and all in all we have a few good years ahead of us wipping everything into shape!
One of the chief things that we want to address is the fact we are on a corner block that is quite busy at times thanks to the fact we are on a short cut between a couple of very busy roads. With kids and all we want to try and create a barrier or buffer both for safety and for privacy, and we seem a little limited in what we can do thanks to local city ordnance. As it stands the corner is quite open, a very large area of lawn in fact, and we intent to safeguard our children and our home to start with by putting up a fence along the property line. What we then propose to do is put some short & plain shrubs for decorative effect on the streetside of the corner fence, and then try and create a barrier to 6 - 8 feet in height on our side. We had thought of a simple hedge, but the city has told us that hedges have to be pruned to the requisite 2 1/2 feet if they're along the fence line, so we figure on getting around it with short trees and shrubs! (oddly enough we know of at least four or five houses in the area that have very high hedges along the fence line facing the road, but why tempt fate by trying to get away with it ourselves?) We've been playing with the idea of a height combination of Azaleas, elephant ears, and maybe even palmetto palms, though we're not sure of the aesthetics of the latter with a backdrop of so many oaks and spanish moss! Closer to the ground we'll put a line of some more decorative plants as the border.
I'd be interested to know what kind of suggestions people here might have for a combination of plants that could work effectively for us as a barrier, bearing in mind Florida weather that occasionally hits us with just enough frost to wipe out delicate tropical plants. The area in question is actually the only spot on our property that gets a great deal of sun duruing the day, so any plants would have to be able to tolerate that. The depth of the bed on our side of the fence will be 20 feet in a crecent shape, and it's length around corner about 60 - 80 feet.
We inherited our own well and a good sprinkler system when we bought the property, but given that we're pretty conciencous about water conservation we would have a preference for plants that need little watering once established, and to that end I've thought that a few plants from my Australian homeland might work well in such a sunny spot.
Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
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snipped-for-privacy@msn.com (tim wilde) wrote:

I can sympathize. I also live on an increasingly busy and noisy street and am considering plants as a barrier. I wish I had as much space as you and also the growing conditions!

If you haven't already done so, I would suggest obtaining the actual printed city regulations/code/etc and looking for loop holes - is it a hedge, or a fence or a trellis or an accessory structure? <wink> Get it in writing, not just the say so of the person behind the counter. You may have more wiggle room examining the printed regs. Keep the printed regs so if regs change years later (to your disadvantage) you can make a case for being "grandfathered in" I don't know how strict Orlando is...
If the city restricts hedge height, what are the restrictions on trellis location and size? What about a fence with vines growing on it. Is a set of poles say every 15 feet apart with 2 wires strung between them, one at say 6 feet high and another at say 3 feet considered to be a fence or is it a trellis because you planted vines a year before the poles appeared so the vines will be established and you'll have lots of growth to drape on the pole and wires?

Some cities take the position of "if it is not an immediate threat to public safety, we only take action if there is a complaint."
Not sure how you might feel about putting in the high hedge and if you are told to trim it, you do so but hey guess what, a couple of years later it is tall again! <wink> This is of course assuming that there is no safety issue like obscuring sight lines for road traffic, etc.
<snip>

Ah! Plants from home! I grew up in Hawaii and now live in Las Vegas so tropicals are a bit tough.

I wish I could be more help but best of luck!
Jay
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As a driver, I always see tall hedges on corner lots as a safety hazard, since it's hard to see cross traffic when you are trying to cross the street or move out. I hope that you will bear that imind whe you do yourplanting.

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