First time homebuyers...need landscaping ideas for privacy

esd087(7)February 22, 2012

First off, I'm new to these forums and I'm new to gardening/landscaping. I've been googling for ideas and keep getting sent here, and I've been very impressed with the wealth of knowledge so far.

My wife and I are under contract with our first home (upstate SC, zone 7b). It is in a subdivision where the houses have little personality when it comes to landscaping. I see that as a good thing, though because I have a blank slate and lots of room for creativity. We have a small .25 acre lot. The front yard is fine, but I'm looking for the best shrubs/trees/hedges for quick privacy in the back.

First off, the dimensions of what we're talking about:

From Landscaping

As you can see, we have dog pens to try and hide, and our back door looks directly at someone else's back door. Hardly ideal, but hey - it's our first house :)

Next, we have an attempted panoramic view of the backyard:

From Landscaping You can't see it super well, but the property line to the right is at the top of an approximately 2 ft. hill. The neighbor has a chain link fence that borders our property.

One more view:

From Landscaping You can see how the water drains when it rains. Not talking about a huge ditch/river here, but based on what I've seen in other forum posts I figured this would be helpful to include. Also, the yard faces SE, has full sun (brutal 90-100ð summers), and is mostly likely hard clay.

Most importantly, I want as much privacy as possible along the back property line so we don't have to look at the neighbors that closely...possibly a hedge all the way across with some staggered trees? I'm also looking for ideas for each side of the house - not necessarily a huge wall of trees, but something to at least break it up.

Again, I'm a newbie at landscaping so any ideas are helpful. Here's a few possibilities I found so far while researching:

- Wax leaf ligustrum

- Wax myrtle

- Nellie Stevens holly

- Tea olive tree

- Thuja Emerald Green

- Thuja Green Giant

- Leyland cypress

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Forgot to mention, budget is around $500, though it is slightly flexible if needed.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 12:37PM
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Scratch the Green Giant and the Leyland Cypress--those will be 100'+ tall some day---unless you want that! What about 'Little Gem' Magnolia grandiflora? Stays small, blooms often, smells great, evergreen.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 3:17PM
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Believe it or not $5oo goes fast when landscaping, you would probably be better off planting a screen of fast growing plants that are tall, and only a few expensive shrubs.

A few ideas are NON spreading bamboo (very important it does not spread or you will soon live in a bamboo forest) and Tall ornamental grasses. I think in your zone you can grow pampas grass which is wonderful, tall and flashy. Great for a screen.

Another trick you could use to keep costs down is divide your plants after you buy them. They fill out quickly after this. If you dont know what I mean imagine taking an ornamental grass out of the pot and cutting the root ball into 2 halves. Now you have 2 of the same plant and it doesn't hurt it. Just make sure the plant can be divided before you do it. (just google it to find out)
hope that helps!!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 3:51PM
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- Wax myrtle suckers awful. You'll be constantly clipping those suckers back. But it will grow as a thicket if that's what you want.

At the old house I finally just cut them all down and treated the stumps with round up to make sure they were really gone.
Their root system will prevent you from growing much of anything near them, if that might be important to you down the line and you want to put in some flower beds around them.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 4:00PM
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Kevin, I have family locally that have huge lines of the leylands which are awesome and absolutely gigantic. Difference is they have bigger yards. If I planted a bunch I wouldn't have much yard left :)

I was thinking it might be nice to have only 1 or 2 leylands/thuja giants, maybe in the corners to be a sort of visual "anchor"??. I also should note that since this is a starter home we plan to be here about 5-7 in other words I don't want to wait 7-10 years for privacy.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 4:03PM
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The fastest way to get privacy is to build a fence. Then you can plant what looks good to you wherever you want it and not worry if the dog kennels are in view. Of course, I don't know if your house has fence restrictions.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 4:25PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Except that wood fencing all around will cost considerably more than $500. I'd also agree that those bigger evergreens would ultimately overwhelm the yard with deep shade. You might also consider fast growing plants such as sunflowers or castor bean for quick temporary privacy. I also think solid fencing would give the most privacy, but doesn't do much to block views from second story neighbor's windows. There are probably more potential deciduous fast growing trees that don't get too big good for your purposes, and they would give you shade and cover in the seasons most likely for you to be outdoors. I'd suggest contacting your local AG extension office or see what they or other local agencies might recommend for trees/shrubs on your area.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 9:08PM
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I want to toss out a scheme that can screen both high and low and the has the potential to add more interest than a plain wall of green. It's a hedge with trees in front and groundcover or mulch bed below. Select hedge plants that tolerate the conditions and keep the trees limbed up (especially in back) as they grow so light can enter below. I think it lends itself to using flowering shrubs that can be left to grow large and natural. I would be open to deciduous shrubs, too, as some can be very twiggy and dense and offer screening or view "filtering" in the winter months. The scheme will work as a backdrop at the back lot line or along the sides of back yard. While it would look best with groundcover below, it could work with just mulch. With the budget I'd even consider Bishop's weed as a g.c. if you don't have plans for garden space.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 9:41PM
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Prague Viburnum (Viburnum x pragense) is a nice shrub, fast growing and evergreen. If you want fast screen, it is better to check what is available in local nurseries, because you'll get small plants by mail, or will have to pay a lot for shipping.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 10:18PM
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Yardvaark, that drawing is almost exactly what I was thinking. I like the look of mulch, especially if I could edge the grass neatly and give it a non-square look.

Any suggestions for the actual trees/shrubs? Does anything from my list above work?

As for the privacy fence...I had considered that, but for one thing I can't afford that now. Would rather have a natural look anyways. Also don't want the maintenance - there are other privacy fences in the neighborhood that look terrible because they weren't maintained.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 10:22PM
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I was also thinking along the lines of yardvaark's high and low screening - and you might be able to get that underway with your budget. But I'm not familiar with trees and shrubs in your area. Believe I had a wax ligustrum in Maryland - seems I was forever cutting that back, would get some kind of tiny white fly infestation on the underside of the leaves that would billow out in clouds when disturbed, and at times some of the leaves would turn bright yellow with big brown spots.

I will take issue with Bishop's Weed, Gout Weed, Aegepodium Podegraria... it'll eat your yard in very short order and continue its quest to invade any abutting neighbor's yard. I've been battling it since it ventured into my yard from a neighbor.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 9:16AM
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DIB4, your point about Bishop's weed is well taken. I would never use it in a yard where I had other beds to contend with. But if it's the ONLY bed and it's adjacent to lawn, then cutting the grass controls it on that side. Nevertheless, it serves as one super cheap, very pretty groundcover. How much the neighbors like it is another matter. In my home town, many people seemed to welcome it as "free groundcover." On the other hand, if one is really "into" their yard, and had their own plantings thought out, they wouldn't appreciate the uninvited visitor. It depends on a person's needs.

esd, I think a good tree for the scheme would be river birch, multi-trunk. It's shade is not so heavy. It's fast growing (especially if given additional water) and the peeling bark is attractive. It's usually readily available. I would even consider a tightly spaced double, staggered 5 trees across the back to give the yard the "grove" look. For a hedge, I'd consider Weigela, several of the viburnums, Elaeagnus, Lorapetalum or even red twig dogwood. If the hedge grew too large and needed to get whacked, this would increase its twigginess.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 10:16AM
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Wow thanks for the input. I really like the look of the river birch. Also, I looked up lorapetalum and that would be great - do the high/low screening and throw in some red color, and it might start looking really good.

Any thoughts on crape myrtles? I'm taking all these suggestions in and making a list...then I'm planning on taking that list to the local nursery and seeing what they have.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 10:47AM
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I wouldn't select crapes as a hedge for use below other trees. They would not bloom best with some shade. But crapes somewhere out in full sun are great.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 11:00AM
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A more complex pattern would be better looking than a row of a single plant.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 6:32PM
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