Shrub/Bush/tree for border/not overly dense privacy needs

ruchjuApril 19, 2008

Hi, I have a sparse and bare looking front yard that extends maybe 7 feet beyond the front window in one place. Because it's so close to the sidewalk I wanted to plant a series of bushes/shrubs/small trees that would provide some privacy (so that I don't feel like I'm basically standing next to pedestrians when walking past my window) without depriving us of light or making us feel barricaded (on the inside and the outside). In my ignorance, I'm hoping that there is some (probably evergreen as we live in Michigan and the winters are long) plant that is not too dense but is more expansive and feathery so that it lets in the light, more like a lacy curtain then a blind in function and aesthetic. I'm also imagining that it will not be too high (e.g. about 6 feet), again so that the effect will be a subtle demarcation of sidewalk and yard/house, some degree of privacy so we're not totally exposed, but not a feeling of a wall.

all ideas appreciated! R.

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Here is a link to an image of the front yard from across the street (ignore the purple car). Note how close it is too the sidewalk, especially, the central part jutting forward. The shuttered window is particularly exposed. Any landscaping ideas appreciated, especially those that would demarcate/add some privacy appreciated.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2008 at 11:58PM
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Here is the ruchju's house:

    Bookmark   April 20, 2008 at 7:47AM
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It's too bad they put that sidewalk essentially right through your front yard. It creates a very small planting area, especially when you consider that any bushes really need to be planted 3-4 feet away from the house.

You might try something like a forsythia which will get big quickly, is easy to get (just get a baby from one of your neighbors), can be cut down very vigorously and ruthlessly, will look pretty from early spring on , but is just bare branches in the winter.

Again, not evergreen, but maybe some lilacs, instead? I like the size and form of my Donald Wyman lilac and could see it in front of the single shuttered window. The form of the lilac, though bare branches in the winter, is prettier than some.

A winterberry might work really well there, actually, if the area is not too dry. And even possibly, blueberry bushes...although passers-by might eat from them!

For evergreen, you could try rhodies or azaleas. As to conifers, I'm sure there are many featherly, light alternatives, I don't know what they might be, though.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2008 at 8:18AM
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tibs(5/6 OH)

Like the way you balanced the addition on the left side of the house with the original. How about a free standing trellis in front of the bay? Vine of your choice.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2008 at 9:20AM
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First thought: A couple Sorbus vilmorinii, with lower (evergreen) plants between them.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 6:10AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

My first thought is that your best bet for privacy is a real lace curtain, backed by a shadow-blocking roller blind to screen the interior at night, for the windows in rooms facing the sidewalk! Especially for the window in the projecting bay.... Nice house - but definitely close to the sidewalk! I think privacy can be most effectively addressed from the inside and then you can focus on the outside from a more decorative point of view and perhaps to block access to keep anyone from stepping clese to the windows. Maybe some of the smaller types of red leafed barberry would be useful for keeping people at a distance while adding ornamental color. Then you could also add a lilac or two by the window that is further back. Lilacs seem to go nicely with old-fashioned-looking houses.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 12:59PM
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