Privacy is something everyone appreciates, especially in your own backyard. It isn’t just about what you don’t want your neighbor to see, but sometimes what you don't want to observe in your neighbor's backyard as well. So what do you do when your new neighbor cuts down the stand of trees next door that you have always enjoyed because of the shade they created and the views they blocked? You don’t have to stay exposed – instead, you can landscape in ways that will add beauty to your yard while preserving your privacy.
1. Add a Living Fence
One way to achieve privacy for your backyard, patio, or porch is to put up a fence, but sometimes a fence draws more attention than it detracts. A fence can also become costly and make you feel confined within your own space. So, why not use a natural landscaping alternative to a fence instead?
Adding property line planting can give you privacy screening all year. For a simple solution to separate your yard from your neighbor’s or to block unsightly views from your kitchen window, you can plant evergreens like arborvitae. Other choices could be Italian cypress or a sheared privet hedge.
If you choose a privet hedge, you can plant it in a two foot by two feet deep trench. Space each shrub about a foot apart and pull the soil to cover the area where the trunk branches out. Water frequently and thoroughly the first year of planting. These deciduous shrubs need to be trimmed regularly and should be planted in a temperate climate.
2. Layer the Privacy Plantings
If you have a large yard, then mixing various evergreen and deciduous trees, perennials, shrubs, and ornamental grasses will give a more natural look. This is especially true if you plant them in odd-numbered groupings and layer them. To provide color, depth, and texture, start with staggering evergreens in the background with deciduous trees, shrubs, and bushes in the foreground. Ornamental grasses are also a great way to add volume and color. Some grasses such as the blue toned big bluestem or the pink-purple toned gulf muhly make great colorful additions to the natural greenery of trees and shrubs. By staggering these plants, you’ll have gorgeous landscaping, more coverage, and added layers to create depth and make your backyard feel like one with nature.
You might also want to consider not planting the same type of plants or trees in a single line because if the tree or shrub is susceptible to a plant disease or insect attack, you could lose all of your privacy screening at one time. Not only that, but when was the last time you walked in the woods and saw trees all planted in a row? The more natural look is to place plants in groupings to give the appearance of a thicket. Along the borderline of your property, plant a couple of deciduous shrubs, then stagger some evergreens and top it off with some ornamental perennial grasses for different heights.
3. Try Precision Planting
Even if you don’t have a large yard or area to plant, you can still get adequate screening. Figure out exactly what the purpose of the natural privacy screen is going to serve. Are you trying to hide your neighbor's messy yard? Or, maybe you want a quiet corner to enjoy a hot beverage with your morning paper. Before you decide what to plant, you need to determine the best spot to plant.
If your outdoor space is limited, you can use containers or raised garden beds. These will provide the height you need by allowing you to make them as tall as you want. Or you can install lattice or a vertical trellis and grow clinging plants or climbing vines. Some types of vines, such as the hyacinth bean, can grow and cover an area very quickly. Bamboo in containers makes excellent privacy screens too; just be sure to purchase clumping bamboo for better containment.
Also be sure to use the right plant, tree or shrub for the space you are looking to make a privacy screen. If you have a large area to cover, then large specimens are perfect. However, if your area is small, you need a plant or tree that won't overwhelm the area where it is planted.
Every homeowner has their own idea of personal privacy. With the help of landscaping, you can achieve it.
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