What do you think of this idea?

fluffybuttMay 5, 2010

So I'm trying to create privacy on one side of the backyard fence. I have about 40 ft in length to work with (minus about 10 for the shed we intend to put in the back corner). The people at a local plant nursery suggested a row of wax myrtles six ft apart along the fence, and then in between those but more forward, stagger some variegated privets. Then in front of that are some smaller shrubs (two tea olives, a spriea, etc). I'm hesitant because I'm just not sure how it's going to look and not sure about that spacing for such big shrubs. Any thoughts?

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To me, "rows" of any plant look unnatural, unless the area where they're put is very narrow. Sounds like you have some depth to work with. I myself would aim to create some mass plantings and groupings of larger shrubs, though its hard to say more without a pic of the area, and knowing what zone you are in.

I'll add that wax myrtle is a great southern plant and is used commonly as a screen. Grows fast, and very hardy.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 7:10AM
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Not scientifically documented but you may be surprised to learn how uninterested in you your neighbours are. The value of any idea like this is the psychological comfort it provides you. We live in a time when telescopes and sound surveillance equipment are available to anyone so if you are up to something interesting you will easily draw a crowd with or without serried ranks of plants bought at the nursery. We just had a request from your neighbour incidentally and he wants to know how to hide his view of your shed. What do you suggest?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 6:29PM
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That doesn't sound unreasonable but takes a lot of room--which is the ideal thing for staggered, more natural plantings. I'm thinking 10-15 feet. For the front planting you would have a lot of options --depends on sun/shade and so on.

If wax myrtles are what I think they are, they also can be limbed up, which can work with the staggered planting as well (depending on how you want your "screen" to look) , but they can get tall. Be sure you like the suggested shrubs and their mature sizes and don't plant so you have to prune everything.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 6:39PM
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dave11 and frankie in zone11--Thank you for your thoughtful advice. I'm not so sure that what the nursery recommended is it. I want something that is beautiful and screening at the same time but I'm not so sure that this is the right design, nor does it seem as though I have the width.

inkognito--Thank you for enlightening me on privacy screens. I thought they were unpenetrable. Guess that means nude sunbathing is out. And don't worry, I'd be surprised that the neighbors would care about my shed since we are surrounded by sheds, trampolines and playsets.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 7:38PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Hey Ink, that was funny!!

There is an issue of personal taste here. For me, the most important thing would be to have plants that I like.

Then the next question would be to consider maintenance/airspace. As Frankie suggested, this can be a lot of work, but also, half the plant will be on the neighbours' property where you can't prune without gaining access. I don't know what a wax myrtle is for some reason but there are columnar trees/shrubs that will avoid this problem.

Then there is the question of repetition. A row of a single type of plant (a hedge in effect), or a grouping for that matter, suggests either a formal or somewhat institutional approach. A hedge is a great boundary in many ways, but does require pruning. A varied palette can look a little hodgepodge but has tons of charm and often year-round interest.

A key decision is also whether you want this privacy year-round or just in summer. You can do more variety with deciduous material.

Finally, there is an issue of time. Depending on how big you buy (and if planting close it is best to buy small), you will start to have your privacy in about 6 years. There are times where there is a great deal to be said for a taller fence! Or other faster methods. Spin around the forum here with the search word privacy screen, you'll find some discussion.


    Bookmark   May 7, 2010 at 12:55PM
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How wide is the area ... you are going to chew up a lot of it with shrubbery. D

How about a wall or lattice panel barrier with vines and some strategically placed small deciduous trees. If you can't see their windows, they can't see you sunbathing.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2010 at 1:55PM
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