Land scaping suggestion for improving privacy

ritholtzSeptember 19, 2013

We recently bought a home which has town homes to west side with road separating us. We also had empty lot behind our back yard. Now, they are building town home there as well with 10' setback. We got couple of windows very close to us in the corner. Please give us your suggestions to grow shrubs to improve privacy.

We liked and bought this home without thinking about these issues. Looks like, we are going to have issues at the time of resale.

Pic of my home with town homes to west.

This post was edited by ritholtz on Thu, Sep 19, 13 at 18:33

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ritholtz

We have some shrubs (I think they are privet) growing in our side yard to get some screening from west side town homes. We also have 6 live oaks planted along the road between us. Is it possible to grow privet shrubs to 10' to 12' quickly. Are there any better alternatives than privets. Is it good idea to plant more privets to fill the gaps.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 6:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ritholtz

Another view of these town homes from my backyard.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 6:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ritholtz

New town homes are being built next to our back yard. We got 2 windows in the corner. Please give us suggestions for some tall growing shrubs to improve our privacy. Our neighbor is going to do something to screen these windows from his side. I have to worry about screening from my side.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 6:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ritholtz

Close pics of these new town homes coming up.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 6:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ritholtz

Full grown trees/shrubs are very expensive. I am planning to plant smaller ones and spend some time on growing them. For backyard, I am thinking of getting 3 Magnolia Shrubs.

For side yard, we are thinking of filling gaps with grown up privets to match existing ones. Is it possible to remove the existing privets in the back and fill the gaps to the side.

Any fertilizers to use to grow them faster.
Thanks.

This post was edited by ritholtz on Thu, Sep 19, 13 at 18:32

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 6:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sc77

Wow...this is no doubt a challenging situation, but I like that. Here are 2 photoshop images of what I would do.
1. Can you add a trellis to the top of that fence to gain some extra height and privacy?
2. narrow evergreen conifers for privacy with a little loss of yard as possible (Italian Cypress)
3. I agree that a Magnolia would be a good choice. Magnolia grandiflora 'TMGH' gets tall, but stays relativley narrow. Id go for something fastigiate, so it won't overwhelm the yard.

Finally, you might want to consider some type of pergolas for additional overhead privacy on your patio area. I think the landscaping looks nice on the "west side" with the privet. I wouldn't be too bothered by that view, but if you are, you could consider some type of deciduous tree such as a japanese maple that could be limbed up.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 10:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sc77

view 2

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 10:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sc77

view 3

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 10:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ritholtz

Thanks SC77 for your details with pictures. As soon as we started seeing backside town homes popping up within 2-3 months of moving in, we felt very disappointed. But you pics gave us some comfort.

I will upload a picture of our covered patio later. But we have flagstone patio extended into lawn. We are fine with using all that space to create screening shrubs. Is it fine with growing these shrubs near to the foundation.

We have some gaps in west side privet fence. Is it possible to remove privets from back side and fill in these gaps. Let us know any pruning techniques to grow them better and faster.

Thanks

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 4:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sc77

I think you could improve the situation 100% with properly selected privacy trees, shrubs, trellis's, pergolas, ect.. The roots won't put the fountain at risk, but planting too close to the house isn't good for the plants. Be sure to give them enough room to grow and get some sun. I'm not sure about moving privet that size, you might want to ask on the shrub forum. It could have a considerable root ball, that would require a bobcat or machine to move.
I'm also not sure where you are located, not every zone 8 is the same. You may be able to consider growing some of the other trees at the link below (don't buy from that website, just for reference). Look around and see if people are successfully growing any of those trees. The Italian Cypress might be ideal though, because it looks like you wouldn't be able to prune a tall evergreen along the fence line without going onto the other side.
People on the forums despise Leyland Cypress because it is prone to disease. In the North the Thuja Green Giant is a better choice, but I doubt they would do well in z8, whereas Leyland's grow as far south as z10. They would make a solid wall, but would require a lot of pruning and may make the yard feel too enclosed/claustrophobic. I have both Leyland Cypress and Thuja. Mine have been in the ground for 3 seasons and both grow about 1.5ft a year. Online there are claims they can grow as fast as 3-5ft, but that is questionable.

Here is a link that might be useful: ideas for hedge

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 8:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

I am under a neighbor's 450' long Leyland cypress hedge, which unfortunately is to the south of me (serious winter shade). The Leylands were planted about 20 years ago, and have indeed grown 3' a year, except where they were shaded by existing large cherry and locust trees, and out-competed by those trees for soil moisture.

Keep in mind that once your Leyland cypresses grow tall enough to block the neighbor's view, they would continue to grow at the same rate for many, many years. The height and width numbers given on plant tags are the estimated 10 year size. Divide the 10-year height by 10, and that's the amount it grows in height per year. Same for the 10-year width.

Also, Leylands aren't all that narrow; in another half dozen years, they would eat up nearly half your backyard. And besides that, they would hang over the fence into the neighbor's yard -- and in most localities, the neighbor would have the right to shear them off at the property line. That would be quite ugly from his side, and you'd see some of that ugliness from the other part of your yard.

You will be happier with something narrower than Leyland cypress. You don't have to plant them in a straight line, and you don't have to be limited to a single type of tree. Whichever variety grows widest should be placed in the corner.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 10:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
annelayman

I think this is one of the most important information for me.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sustainable landscape designers

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 6:34AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sc77

This is the risk you run when suggesting Leyland Cypress. Its true, as I said, they require a lot of care in terms of hedging, but if you want fast, full coverage, they can't be beat other than Thuja Green Giant, but they might now grow well in z8.
As with any hedge, the width and height are within your control. I keep my hedge narrow. I do think the Italian cypress us probably your best bet, but it will take many years to block that view

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 10:13AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ritholtz

Hi SC77, missingtheobvious and annelayman,
Thanks for lot of information. I looked around my subdivision. There are lot of Magnolia trees used for screening. Looks like I can go for either Italian Cypress or Magnolia.

My fence height is 6'. We have 4' elevation compared to town homes. My east side neighbor has another 1-2' advantage compared to me. He is going to do something to screen the window in his corner. We are allowed to raise fence height up to 8'.

Pic of our patio and backyard. We do not have lot of space with patio extending into lawn. We are planning to use all that corner space to grow shrubs/tress for screening. We will try to make some space in other corner by removing some shrubs.

This post was edited by ritholtz on Mon, Sep 23, 13 at 18:29

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 6:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ritholtz

Our covered patio.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 6:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ritholtz

We are also thinking of some kind of shutters to hang around patio which should give us inside privacy. Then we can spend time in growing shrubs/trees to get privacy to backyard.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 6:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ritholtz

We have small space to our east side next to this corner which stays in the shade for most of the time.

This post was edited by ritholtz on Mon, Sep 23, 13 at 18:25

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 6:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ritholtz

Can some one tell me type of the privet we have along the west side boundary. I am planning to get few more and plant them in the gaps.
Thanks

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 4:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ritholtz

Hi SC77,
Other than Italian cypress, I am also thinking about Green giants, Magnolia and Crape Myrtle. I have seen Magnolias and lot of Crape Myrtles here. Let me know if any of these might be a better and easier solution. Also wondering, if I can plant Italian cypress trees closer for covering the gap and prune them to keep it around 15' to 10'.

Thanks,

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 5:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sc77

Green Giants get huge... unless you are truely dedicated to sheering them regularly, I wouldn't recommend them. Also, how will you sheer the fence side? They are awesome trees, but they really want to get big. If you do plant them, they should be at least 3ft of the fence.

I don't have any personal experience with Italian Cypress, as it cannot grow here, but it seems like a good choice for your situation. Because they are narrow, you could plant them pretty close together or create a double staggered row. I think 3ft spacing between them it correct for a hedge.

If Green Giant grows in your area, you could also consider using Thuja occidentalis 'Degroot's Spire'. They are a really nice, narrow evergreen Arborvitae. You could even mix and match, with a backrow of the more shade tolerant 'Degroot's Spire' and a front row of Italian cypress..
Staggered Row:
x x x x x x
x x x x

For more ideas, head over to the conifer forum. Those guys are very active, experts, and eager to help. I know there are plenty of people who live in your zone that can add more ideas than I can, and with first hand experience.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 9:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
CreatedToCook(CA 10a/SunsetZn. 22)

Ritholtz: I just moved out of a home where we had Italian Cypress growing along the entire back wall. I will try and post some pictures for you when I get a chance. One word of caution regarding growing Italian Cypress trees... If you have a fear of spiders or are allergic to spider bites, you may want to consider another plant. From my personal experience they are housing magnets for all sorts of spiders, especially black widows.

I just moved into a new home where I am need to plant some privacy screening plants. One that I recently discovered and have taken a real liking to is the Pittosporum Silver Sheen. I thought you might want to check it out.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 3:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ritholtz

Hi SC77,
Thanks for feedback on Green giants. I will try checking out conifer forum and keep looking for Thuja occidentalis in local stores. I saw 8' tall Magnolia little gems on sale in local store. But they sold out pretty quickly. None of the stores around me carries Italian cypress.

Some people on other forums recommended wax myrtle. Any feedback on wax myrtles? Looks like they get quickly tall here and easy to grow/shear.

Thanks.

This post was edited by ritholtz on Fri, Oct 25, 13 at 18:13

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 3:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ritholtz

Thanks for the feedback CreatedToCook. Please post the pics.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 6:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ritholtz

Hi,
I am also looking for some alternatives to complete my west side privet hedge. I have around 10' gap in two places and everything else is privet hedge. Are there any better alternatives to mix with existing privet hedge?

This post was edited by ritholtz on Fri, Oct 25, 13 at 18:09

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 6:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
blakrab

Privets are highly-invasive and should just be REMOVED! That hedge could easily be replaced with Wax Myrtles and Texas Sage..

For narrower fence hedging, I would probably use a mix of:
Black Chokeberry
Rusty Blackhaw
'Black Beauty' Semi-Dwarf Black Mulberry (just keep this away from the foundation or water lines)
Texas Mountain Laurel (poisonous seeds)
'Black Beauty' Elderberry

Interspersed with some small understory trees where you have room:
Pineapple Guava
Texas Persimmon
Goldenball Lead Tree
Anacacho Orchid Tree
Eve's Necklace (poisonous seeds)
Hamamelis x intermedia 'Primavera' Hybrid Witchhazel?

Here is a link that might be useful: Aronia

    Bookmark   October 8, 2014 at 8:40PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
garden design ideas for a raised brick flower bed.
Every year I try with all my might to do something...
midwestmelissa
Looking for front of house ideas
We recently moved into this house. It was a new construction...
jsandlin0803
Stained concrete vs. Integrated Concrete
Hello, I am redoing my backyard, and pouring new concrete....
sillysally
Need help building a retaining wall
Hi all this is my first post so I hope I can get some...
jeffboyardeee
need help regrading
hi, currently the mulch surrounding my home foundation...
mishyq
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™