Plant a Little Privacy

Friday, September 23rd, 2016 by Jenny Watts
    • Bulbs, bulbs, bulbs! It’s time to plant tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocus and many other flower bulbs for beautiful blooms next spring.
    • Plant snapdragons, pansies and violas for color this fall, winter and next spring.
    • Plant cover crops in areas of the garden that have finished producing for the summer. Crimson clover and fava beans will grow over the winter and enrich the soil for next year.
    • Fall is for planting! Make the most of the nice fall weather and plant trees, shrubs, ground covers and bulbs now during the fall planting season.

Plant a Little Privacy

Whether we live in the city or the country, we all need a certain amount of privacy, and sometimes plants can create a living fence or screen to serve that purpose.  

There are many reasons for screens. Maybe you want to put a screen between you and the neighbors, or to give you privacy from the road.
A tall hedge can be used to keep down unwanted noise, hide undesirable views, keep out dust and other pollutants, and provide wind protection. It can also be used to frame desirable views and provide the feeling of enclosure. Screens can be used within the landscape to create outdoor “rooms” and separate utility areas from pleasure areas.

Evergreen shrubs and trees that have foliage from the ground up are the most desirable, and so are “fast-growing” plants. When you decide where you want a screen, determine the height and width needed, as well as the amount of sun or shade the planting will receive. Then choose plants which will meet the exposure requirements without excessive pruning.

For a 6 to 8 foot hedge some good shrubs include Oregon grape, Texas privet and heavenly bamboo. They are upright-growing and make tall, narrow screens with a little pruning.

For an 8 to 12 foot tall screen Photinia, with its bright red new growth, and Cotoneaster, with its red berries, are good choices. They make large, wide bushes but can be kept narrower and denser with pruning. 

If you have a fence there already, you can use Photinia trees. These are the same plant as bush Photinia, but they are already 8 feet tall with a 5-foot trunk, so they will give you privacy above the fence right away. If it is a wire fence, consider ivy which will make a dense, evergreen covering in a few years.

Pyracantha is a bit unruly, but can also be shaped with pruning. The white flowers and red berries are attractive and it is very fast-growing. Grecian laurel, English laurel and oleander make attractive natural hedges, screens or background plantings.

Even taller screens can be achieved with evergreen trees and conifers. Italian buckthorn and redwood trees have been used along the freeways in Sonoma County to provide both visual and sound screening.  

Leyland cypress is one of the fastest-growing evergreens. It is widely used as a quick-growing and effective hedge or screen. It will reach 15-20 feet in 5 years and makes a dense hedge when planted 8 feet apart.

Emerald Green arborvitae is a bright green columnar tree that makes a thick, permanent hedge when planted 4-5 feet apart. Its thick foliage quickly fills in to create a solid living wall with a beautiful green color.

Our native incense cedar and bay trees can also be used for large screens, where you have plenty of room for them to spread.

Whether you want a living fence or a tall screen, fall is an excellent time to plant evergreen shrubs for privacy and beauty.