new apartments looking into backyard

tommy_growAugust 10, 2007

Two months ago the trees in the lot off of our backyard were clear cut and 2 story apartments are being constructed. We have a pie shaped lot with a high school behind us. We are in Southern Louisiana. I have no issues with the high school footbal field since we have a gate in the fence to use the track etc. These apartments are a different story, The picture are from my patio to the apartments and the reverse. Any landscaping suggestions, plants layout. My wife and I were thinking a row of Thuja 10 ft appart along the fence with a dwarf magnolias offset in between. Alternatively we were thinking of bisecting the yard just past the pool with a row of thujas. My backfence is 6 ft tall, 205 ft from corner to corner. The apartments are approx 15 ft from the corner of my property line. The backyard faces south and gets lots of sun.

The plot was traced from a google earth shot of my house so it is to scale.

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The big issue is a fast screen for the pool area. IF you were up here in New England, I'd suggest a small grove of clump birch near the pool decking - maybe about 20' out from it. That would screen you from peering eyes from the windows, but allow you to see the expanse of your back yard and watch the kids on the trampoline. Up here we shut down pools in the fall, so evergreen would not be necessary.

If you go with arbs 10' apart along the fence, you won't have effective screening. If you put them closer to the pool, you will cut off the rest of the property.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 7:52PM
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JohnnieB(Washington, DC 7a/b)

Laag makes a good point--rather than putting a dense row of plants right up against the fence, stagger it with some plants deeper in the yard. And if you're lucky, the apartment complex will have landscaping that will include some trees--that will make screening from your side much easier. But even if not, you've got plenty of room to do some good landscaping on your own side (in fact all that lawn is crying out for it!). A mix of trees and shrubs--perhaps including some palms to tie in with the pool planting--will be much nicer than a row or hedge of a single species. If you like bamboo, some of the Bambusa species--which are clumpers rather than runners--should be hardy in your area. You may have to wait a couple of years to get full screening, but in the long run it will look much nicer than using a single fast-growing plant.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 9:05AM
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Great idea on placing the plants off the deck to block the apartments yet allow a view of the yard. We sit out here year around since me often get days in the high 60s in Dec/Jan/Feb so we would want an evergreen. possibly magnolias. Landscaping the rest of the yard has been on the to do list for sometime, you never know when the motivation will arrive.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 11:20AM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

A row of cedars will block your view of the fence, but not block people's view from the second story of the apt. into your pool area, nor block your view of the second story of the apt. complex. You need tall trees to do that, so get some planted asap. Buying large trees is not cheap, but can be done. I'd create an "island" half moon shaped back in the corner, but not right against the fence. Plant 3-5 fast growing trees, underplant with something pretty to fill in until the trees get up to speed. I don't know the varieties for your region, but I'm sure a good nursery can steer you in the right direction. With your climate you should be able to get some trees going relatively fast.

At the condo where my parents live, when the place was built they planted along the border of the property, a special variety of norway maples bred to grow fast, tall and upright. The people on the second floor always complained that the trees were blocking the view of the park next door! They kept topping them, which always amused me considering they were fighting the very purpose those trees had been bred for. They eventually died. Lesson to be learned, right plant, right place! Do some homework on the growing habits of your choices! Somewhere out there are the perfect plants for your project, but you probably won't find them at a box store. Best if you can find a nursery that specializes in trees. Also, certain times of the year are better to shop for plants than others, but I don't know what it is in your zone. Probably the cooler season.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 11:24AM
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Your greatest asset is space; least abundant commodity is shade. I'm thinking Liriodendron Tulipifera (Tulip Poplar) in the space behind the trampoline. It's in the magnolia family, fast growing at about 6' per year and would give you a canopy as opposed to a row of evergreen columns in that corner. Deciduous, but would eventually provide you the kind of cover at the times of the year you'd like to have it most.

For other ideas try and pick your state.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 11:48AM
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"And if you're lucky, the apartment complex will have landscaping that will include some trees--that will make screening from your side much easier."

There may be a landscaping plan on file as part of the approved plans available for viewing at the local town hall. I would recommend checking. Since the project is already into construction, the ability for an abutter to make landscaping suggestions at this point has probably come-and-gone unless the developer is unusually receptive.

But this need not necessarily be left to chance. In my state (MA), many communities have adopted Site Plan Review bylaws and regulations that would allow for reviewing landscaping plans as part of that process before any construction can begin. Personally speaking, as a local Planning Board member, I have a responsibility to listen to abutter's concerns including visual impacts and then try and work with the applicant to mitigate reasonable concerns which could include landscaping options. However, the time and place to be properly heard is at the corresponding public hearing, not during construction.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 12:18PM
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Consider Cherry-Laurel trees (Prunus caroliniana). Clean, rapid growing evergreen tree which can be limbed up from the bottom affording you the opportunity to develop a shade garden/shrub border beneath and along. No disease problems. Attractive.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 5:20PM
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I'll add one thing about Prunus Caroliniana... leaves, twigs, seeds, and stems contain high amounts of cyanide, glycosides, and amygdalin. A hazard for animals that might chew; also not recommended for planting in areas where children play. Ingestion could result in spasms, convulsions, coma, respiratory failure, and death.

If toxicity wouldn't be an issue, it has most of the qualities you might be looking for (height, rapid growth, evergreen, etc.) except that it's easily propagated by seed: birds eat the berries, excrete them complete with their own fertilizer: voila! - more Cherry-laurel.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 6:10PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

I have this theory about planting fast-growing trees that you should also plant a slow growing tree or two at the same time if you can. Fast-growers sometimes have limited lifespan or outgrow urban lots really quickly. If you have your succession trees already planted you won't lose coverage when you get rid of the fast growers.


    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 7:23PM
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About the carolina cherry laurel recommendation...they are a good plant, but I have found some disease/pest problems with them, so I'm not sure that I would recommend them. Shot-hole leaf fungus can occur in wet summers, although this is not a serious problem. Far more serious is the problem of the peach tree borer. And, once you notice the damage caused by the borers, it cannot be treated...the plant is pretty much history.

But with that said, it is a great plant if grown well. I've found that I have fewer problems w/ them if I irrigate during time of drought and prune them so that damage from ice storms is limited. You can spray to prevent borers (in fact, I just did that yesterday), but it is a pain.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 2:16PM
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Ok here is what we are planning to do.

In the back corner closest to the aparments. Bambusa oldhami. Then along the fence to the right Thuja green giant in two section at 6-8 ft spacing up to the pool. In the yard we will have 2 chery laurels. Nearer to the pool, about twenty feet of the deck, we will use wax myrtles accented bt windmill palms. Trees are there, soil arrives tomarrow, planting starts tomarrow, chiropratic appointments next week. If interested I can post pictures and endure the scathing reviews.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2007 at 9:39PM
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thistle5(z7 VA)

I think your plant choices sound great, I would also consider adding a few magnolia grandiflora in the corner near the apts. They are beautiful trees, & you have the space for them...

    Bookmark   September 19, 2007 at 5:11PM
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I love tulip poplars...interesting leaves and flowers BUT the roots are very invasive so wouldn't be appropriate near a house, underground pipes, well or septic field. T

    Bookmark   October 12, 2007 at 3:01AM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Your yard, at the moment mostly unplanted is plenty big enough to be landscaped with a mixed planting of trees and shrubs around the edges. As this grows up the apartments will disappear, unless your neighborhood has height restrictions preventing the planting of trees tall enough to obscure them. (This would be ironic, of course, buildings of that height OK but not trees).

Local garden designers should be able to come up with specific selections that would fit the bill.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2007 at 12:35AM
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