Deck Privacy(pics attached)

skhaireJanuary 16, 2014

Last year we got these green giants and privets planted along the border which are not seen in pics.Also have 8 crepe myrtles along the border .And of course no privacy yet. The backyard faces W or SW (1/3 rd acre) and get all the sun. When I am on my deck it feels like I am constantly being watched, not that I am.We have 3 houses looking straight into our backyard. And to the right we have street .To get some privacy and shade on deck , what trees would you suggest which does not damage the foundation but still can be close to deck. It shouldn't be obvious conifers around the deck though.
Also, the front yard is just plain builder grade. any trees to spruce it up. Low maintenance is what we are looking for since we hardly get any time to spare with little kids.

Thank you.

This post was edited by skhaire on Fri, Jun 13, 14 at 9:14

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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

From my point of perspective I feel that some landscape architectural additions ( pergola and or trellis screening) would serve your privacy interests for the deck along with some secondary plantscaping at the perimeter.
Not only will you have immediate gratification with the structure but if the planting shall ever fail to disease or storm damage you will always have the built structure to count on.

You might enjoy looking at the Houzz website to gain ideas on how others have used pergolas and screens of wood, metal, woven organic materials and cloth to create privacy on a deck.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 4:14PM
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Sorry, but hubby is not fond of wooden structures or awnings. I was thinking of Bloodgood japanese maples, magnolia, holly etc..right around the deck. I should not give a feeling that we are enclosing ourselves from the rest of the yard.

This post was edited by skhaire on Thu, Jan 16, 14 at 17:08

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 4:28PM
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if you plant big stuff right around the deck you WILL give a feeling of "enclosing [your]selves from the rest of the yard". Unless you want to feel the bushes, know the bushes, BE the bushes, I wouldn't.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 6:55PM
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My suggests:

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 7:38PM
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It shouldn't be obvious conifers around the deck though.

Do you mean common, big box store conifers, or no conifers at all?

I like challenges, but you have really limited your options. My first choice would have been to buy 4 or 5ft tall Buxus sempervirens 'Dee Runk' or
Thuja occidentalis 'Degroot's Spire', but those are somewhat generic looking, plus you don't want to feel boxed in.

Option 2, I liked the pergola/trellis idea that @deviant-deziner suggested... but you ruled that out too...

Problem is... you need to start with something at least 4ft tall if you want to have an shot at privacy in the next 5 years...getting "unique" conifers, maples, ext that size is very expensive. If budget isn't a concern, then I would just go buy some 6ft japanese maples... The space looks narrow, so I might suggest
Acer palmatum "Twombly's Red Sentinel".

If you can't buy trees that big, then I think the only option left would be to do potted trees on top of the deck. I think that could look really nice and provide you with privacy until the green giants grow up. Stuff like

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 9:25PM
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Thanks yin49. The front yard does look different but I am not able to figure out the changes in the pic. Could you please help me with that? Also haven't seen Pacific yew growing in zone 7b/8.
Yes SC77 , I do have limited choices. Maples, thats what I was thinking. My deck 12 ft by 18 ft and I was thinking of mix of Japanese maples and Evergreen Little Gem magnolias/Nellie Steven hollies. Evergreens one at each corner of deck so that I get privacy from the neighbors on left and from street on right. And maples in between to block the view from the neighbors 3 car garage behind(not in the pic). My concern is, is it safe to put them so close to the house or will it damage the foundation later? Secondly , how would you place these along with some other shrubs(not sure which ones) to create a more natural look?

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 10:39AM
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Pacific yew can grow well in zone 7b/8.also,there are many other choices. I did again,but your pics are so small,can't show more could email me some data(at least width and long of the yard) ,bird-eye view pics or google pics.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 8:48PM
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I think you should focus on long term curb appeal if you don't want to use some sort of structure that would give you instance privacy. Green Giants grow fast, mine have averaged 1.5ft a year and that is in part shade. I would be patient with those and plant something around that deck that can take time to grow and look great.

I propose you expand the much bed and formalize it a bit, maybe a brick border or at least a formal edge using a spade. Use your garden house to design a fluid layout and leave a large rounded spot at the corner for a Japanese maple. Don't underestimate the space they need, my bloodgood is at least 15ft tall. With the added planting space, you could stagger in a few Thuja occidentalis 'Degroot's Spire' without making it feel enclosed.

On the endcap near the steps I would pick a very cool conifer. Here I have pictured Picea pungens 'The Blues', but you could select anything that has a tall, narrow footprint. Often weeping conifers are the best for that category. I would highly recommend looking at Conifer Kingdom's offerings to get an idea of how unusual and unique conifers and JP maples can look, beyond the big box store offerings.

Finally, you could consider growing some sort of vine from a pot on the porch and weave it through the railings, that would add further privacy and look really nice. Something like

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 2:03PM
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Thanks Yin49.Will look for the pacific yew .
Awesome ideas SC77. My deck already looks good with your pictures :). I am attaching 2 more pics of my deck, the left half and right half of deck with garage being built. Let me rephrase myself. I dont want to get boxed in with ALL conifers, I had seen it in online somewhere. Instead I would like to be surrounded by all year color like maples mixed with some evergreens . Instead of narrow conifer, I was looking for evergreen with broad canopy so that it blocks second floor view of neighbors and street right behind the deck. Probably it will not provide the shade. I love the idea of the climbing hydrangea too. I also looked at websites you mentioned-it had great info and looking into shipping options.
Now that you have a better idea of deck, any advice on landscaping with evergreen little gem magnolia or holly for privacy year round?

This post was edited by skhaire on Fri, Jun 13, 14 at 9:18

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 5:22PM
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Deck on right with garage construction

This post was edited by skhaire on Fri, Jun 13, 14 at 9:20

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 5:23PM
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A tweakable/scalable scheme scratched out using small multi-trunk trees, shrubs, groundcover, annuals.

This post was edited by Yardvaark on Thu, Jan 23, 14 at 12:29

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 4:54AM
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Thanks Yardvaark ! It looks beautiful. I am completely new to gardening, except some veggie gardening I did last year. So please excuse my ignorance. What trees are those? Is there any tree which will cover the bottom of deck as well as top view of neighbors. Reason I ask is because our deck faces a huge garage of our neighbors at the back as well as they have windows on second floor.
I think I should plant similar trees on the left of deck too since thats the side open to the street, right?. Now you see why I am so keen on privacy. Moment I am deck it feels like a hot fishbowl.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 9:54AM
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I believe the reason Yardvaark designed it that way is to avoid giving that "enclosed" feeling you didn't want. I don't think you can have it both ways, if you get a tree that is full from the ground up, that isn't going to be much different than having a conifer. You will get tons of privacy, but it's going to be like having a wall of green.

Typically people put tall trees, especially screening trees at a distance, so as not to overwhelm the deck/house structure. You request for privacy at the second story window would require a massive tree that would swallow up your deck and it would take year and years to reach that height. But... if your primary objective is privacy and shade, here are some ideas:

Alta Southern Magnolia
Purple Fountain Beech
Alaskan Cedar
Fastigiate Hornbeams

Also, I forgot to reply on this before, but planting close to your house does not pose any risk to the fountain, only to the plants health.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 10:13AM
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Skhaire, if you overdo enclosing the deck with a green wall of privacy, it will work against the potential for you to appreciate the rest of your yard. There's not a good way for forum members to comprehend what you are trying to screen from. The solutions you need may be more complex than just what some planting around the deck can do. However, being in the shade, all by itself, offers a reasonable sense of privacy since a person appears more like a silhouette and details, to someone at a distance, are difficult to make out. The canopy of a small tree is especially effective at screening from neighboring second story windows. For screening directly at the deck perimeter, I'd use annual vines so that a permanent structure is not needed. You don't want to create something that must be undone down the road. Annual vines can provide VERY fast screening so have that advantage.

Insofar as "what trees" those are in my sketch ... They could be whatever works best where you live to create similar forms. You mention Jap. Maple .... those could be made to create small multi-trunk trees. In your zone, crape myrtle could also be useful. There are many possibilities for creating such small trees ... burning bush (Euonymus alatus) and beauty bush are another couple of examples. (The key would be to removing lower foliage in order to create a right height canopy.)

(I'm going to resubmit my sketch above. The groundcover portion looks pinched to me.)

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 12:28PM
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As for what you currently have growing next to the deck, it is planted too close to the deck. Just my two cents.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 5:16PM
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SC77 and Yardvaark ,
You guys are awesome!
Right, I dont want a wall of greens! But I think for long term appeal , Japanese maples and conifers and few shrubs will do the trick. I planted 8 crepe myrtles in front of the the green giants and privets , so I am trying to stay away from it. I have to see if they do well this year,
What would you suggest on the other side of deck since thats the one which faces the street? Any particular variety of Japanese maple or bloodgood is the best for me? I was kind of debating if bloodgood or emperor1 will provide the height and the broader canopy.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 5:24PM
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Attaching 2 pics (left and back view from deck)to help comprehend what I am trying to screen from.

This post was edited by skhaire on Fri, Jun 13, 14 at 9:22

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 2:37PM
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Yer another view to left of deck.

This post was edited by skhaire on Fri, Jun 13, 14 at 9:21

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 2:38PM
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I think you have all the right ideas, now it's just a matter of selecting plants. Bloodgood is an excellent choice, with about the fastest growth rate of any JP maples (which tend to be slow growing). If you buy it from a big box store, just be sure it actually says 'Bloodgood', often I see them selling trees just listed as "Red Japanese Maple"...this is speciies, not cultivar, and not nearly as nice red.

Some other ideas for trees:
Acer palmatum 'Sango-kaku' (JP Maple) -Coral Bark, nice winter interest, fast growing, and about as tall as JP maples get)
Acer palmatum 'Fireglow' (JP Maple) - smaller than bloodgood, but the best red I have ever seen.
Amelanchier ÃÂ grandiflora 'Autumn Brilliance' (Service Berry) - Taller than JP Maples
Cornus kousa 'Satomi' (Dogwood)- Other nice cultivars as well. Make sure you get Asian dogwood as the other types are prone to anthracnose (tree disease).

Good luck and keep us posted in the future of what change you make

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 8:39PM
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The earlier pictures and questions make it seem as if a screening effect is desired directly at the deck. The latest pictures indicate that screening (which is begun) is needed near the property line and trees somewhere within the yard area. Whatever is planted at or near the deck should be on account of the needs in that area ... which are not just screening per se. Whatever you're going to do should be worked out in a plan of the back yard, to scale. It would be easier to react to, or make suggestions for it, if your proposal and existing plants were shown in that form.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 12:31AM
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jcalhoun(8b Mobile County AL)


Since you are relatively new to trees and shrubs I recommend that you visit those forums. There are a lot of folks there who can help you.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 11:09AM
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As Yardvaark suggested, I need some help not just with the deck area. The screening has begun at the property line. I have got some expert advice here and so I am back with more pics.
Link below is for pics moving from left to right side of deck. You can see neighbor's garage exactly across the deck and street at the right.

Here is a link that might be useful: Backyard pics

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 11:39AM
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Bumping up for experts opinion on entire landscape design. I have got some good advice here.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 6:18AM
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skhaire, at this point of considering how you might solve your problem, you should forget about specific plants. Instead, think about what FORM some type of screening might take. Seems to me it's going to be some support structure added to the deck which could provide privacy -- or the illusion of it (which usually means shade and partial screening) -- or it's going to be small trees in front of the deck that provide the same thing. (Can you think of a different way to do it?) If it's trees, then in order to get some quick effect, you're going to be buying some that are at least 10' tall. And you'll need to think of how they'll be modified (maintained) over the years so that they make sense long term. One main consideration will be how to keep the tree canopy from excluding the view of the rest of the yard.

Even the existing railing offers a bit more privacy than if the deck were completely open. Consider that if there was something overhead (at least above the railing) the effect could be as if you were on a covered balcony. If I was in your situation, until things are worked out in a permanent plan, I'd consider rigging up some temporary, inexpensive structure that could support some annual vines. It doesn't need to be expensive or elaborate or high cost because whatever you rig up could be completely covered by vines (quickly) and not seen. (But it would need to be sturdy enough to survive the growing season.) Within a relatively short amount of time (1 1/2 to 2 months) your deck could transform into something completely different. A vine supporting structure could be like an extension of the railing, or it could include an overhead, ceiling-like portion, which would make it better; looking out from the deck could be like looking out through windows from an inside room. If you tried this and liked it, you could modify it to suit your needs and construct something better quality that would be permanent.

If you're going to go with trees, unless they're already big enough, the TEMPORARY vine screen I described could be useful to you in conjunction with them.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 5:52PM
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Thanks for all the advice. Looks like this project which started with just deck screening has extended to the entire backyard.

I am thinking of a long term appeal so would rather go with trees and vines for temporary screening. I am torn between little gem magnolias and Nellie steven hollies. I was thinking of planting them near the deck steps, one on each side, near the corner of deck and one where the dish is . This is instead of the conifers and then some azaleas or rhodoedendrons or roses to fill in . We really want the Japanese maple too but not sure where we could place it . I really dont mind placing it in the middle of backyard, like 3 in a triangle, but not sure if its good landscaping.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 12:34PM
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It is not a stretch for Nellies to become 10' or 12' across. Draw this diameter of circle on the ground where you wish to plant to see if it will work out in that location.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 2:47PM
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Same thing with the "little gem"... they get huge 15-20ft tall and 8-10ft across... Consider all your options. I think you could select much more unique plantings that are not at every house in the neighborhood....but even if you want more common plants, you really need to focus on more narrow uprights in the 3-5ft range for 10year width...

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 10:13PM
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Both of you are right. The only reason I was looking at these was because I am looking for low maintenance plants/shrubs. And I probably have 10 ft of space , but I will measure .
I was thinking of entire backyard landscaping.instead of just looking at screening deck.
Any ideas for landscaping in entire backyard which will provide screening as well long term appeal ?

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 10:38AM
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I don't see how Nellies and Little Gems are "low maintenance" if they are placed near enough the deck that they become view blockers. It seems like it would become high maintenance to be constantly trimming so as to maintain a respectable view.

Here, we have offered schemes that you can apply, but the work of applying them falls to you. With the advice, you should be plotting out your resolutions in plan form on paper. People here could certainly respond to that to see if you're on the right track. And in the plan form, it's easier for people here to offer advice. The basics of an entire back yard is that you will have plantings at the building (foundation plantings), plantings at the perimeter (which it seems you already have) and some freestanding plantings at the midway space of the back yard (trees, more than likely.)

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 1:40PM
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