Ah, privacy! If you live on a ranch in Wyoming or in a cabin in the
wilds of Montana, that's probably not a problem. But if you're
like most of us, you have neighbors quite close on each side of you and
maybe overlooking the back of your lot as well.
Even if you're smack in the middle of suburbia surrounded by other
homes, there IS some good news. You don't have to build a 15 foot
brick wall around your perimeter just to secure your privacy. After
all, who wants to live in Fort Knox without the gold?
In the previous Plant Man column, I described ways that trees and
shrubs can help to insulate your home and garden from noise pollution,
wind and heat, making your life more comfortable and your utility bills
less demanding. If you missed that column you can find it archived
under the Plant Man heading at my Web site www.landsteward.org
But as modern homes are being built closer and closer together,
concerns about privacy become even more pressing for many of us.
Fortunately, there are a number of "green" solutions that can
provide the private haven you want without taking the ugly route.
The following e-mail is a case in point. It was fielded by my wife
QUESTION: "I live in a lovely cul de sac neighborhood, but I live on
the corner and my whole yard is exposed, mainly the whole backyard. The
lot is 3/4 acres and the house faces north. So rather than putting up
an ugly wood fence, I was wondering if I could create some type of
natural fence when I came across an article at your Web site.
"I mainly want to close in the backyard on the northeast side and
half way across the back property line. The rest opens to neighbors
whose kids play with my kids, and to forest in the back. If you have
any suggestions, I'd love to hear about them." - Barry Preising
ANSWER: If the house across from yours has landscaping on the exposed
area along the street, you may want to do something similar to keep a
balanced look in the neighborhood. Should there be no house there or if
they don't have any landscaping, here are a couple of thoughts.
Rather than the straight uniform look of a hedge, plant in groupings of
plants (trees, shrubs and perennials) or a graduated hedge with breaks
along the way. Beginning toward the front part of the property, plant a
low growing hedge (rosa rugosa, burning bush or even ornamental
grasses) along the first 1/3 of the length breaking up the plants every
20 to 30 feet with a green giant or another evergreen tree. For the
next 1/3, plant a taller growing hedge such as hibiscus, clumping
bamboo, or Canadian hemlock (kept at about 8 feet tall). Along the
back 1/3, plant a tall growing evergreen hedge of cedar green giants or
Planting a hedge in S-form in an interesting way to create a hedge
without it being completely straight. When planting using this method,
add smaller growing shrubs, perennials, ornamental grasses in the
indented areas. Using a partial fence area works great as well. The
fence blocks the area you want to keep most private and then landscape
with varied plants on each end as far as necessary to carry out the
visual of the fence. I hope you can use one of these suggestions.
I believe the column that Barry referred to was titled "Use trees and
shrubs to define your landscape." You can find it at
http://www.landsteward.org/page.cfm/6613 if you need more information
on this subject. Alternatively, drop me an e-mail, like Barry did,
with some specifics about the problem you're wrestling with. I'll
respond personally and your question might appear in a future column or
in my newsletter.
The Plant Man is here to help. Send questions about trees, shrubs and
landscaping to email@example.com. For resources and additional
information, or to subscribe to Steve's free weekly e-mailed
newsletter, go to www.landsteward.org