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Landscape Design

Plant a Privacy Screen

How to use a dense row of trees or shrubs to create a privacy screen

  • Tree Privacy Screen Evergreen trees planted in a tight row can provide much needed privacy.
  • single closely planted row of deciduous shrubs A single closely planted row of deciduous shrubs or trees produces a dense privacy hedge that loses much of its screening value in winter.
  • oleander hedge This oleander hedge planted beside the property line wall adds two feet to its height, but also demands a depth of six feet from the adjacent yard.
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COST TIMING EFFECTIVENESS MAINTENANCE
moderate slow high moderate

A dense row of trees or shrubs can be a highly effective privacy screen. The trees are planted a few feet inside your property line or existing fence so they stand on your land. The best plants for this purpose are columnar evergreens, but virtually any tree that is narrow enough will work. While this is the most effective planted screen, many aren't happy with this look because it creates uniform walls that emphasize the box-like shape of the yard.

Get a list of the top 10 privacy plants.

Considerations

Consider whether shade negatively impacts the neighbor's:
Swimming pool, vegetable garden, orchard, lawn, greenhouse, morning coffee patio, children's play space

Will your overhanging branches and litter negatively impact the neighbor's:
Pool, spa, patio, car, barbecue, lawn, roses, sand box, fancy paving, sculpture, water feature or fountain

Tradeoff: The trees will demand space which must be subtracted from your overall usable area in the yard. They take years to grow large enough to offer any privacy at all. They must be planted very close together, which, over time can create a good deal of root competition both between the trees and with adjacent planting, utilities or structures. As the trees grow larger they can put pressure on the existing fence causing the posts to weaken or lean. If shearing is begun to limit vertical or horizontal expansion of plants, then maintenance grows from moderate to high.

Shade & Neighbors: Any time there is something done on the property line, it will influence what is happening next door. Most homeowners are oblivious to how their new trees will affect the neighbor's use of her property today or in the future. This can be very important, particularly where there is a potential for damage to the neighbor's expensive improvements such as a swimming pool.

Contributing Author:

Maureen Gilmer, contributing writer for Landscaping Network, author and syndicated columnist

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