Evergreen privacy screen, how many feet back from road?

johngood5(7)November 12, 2010

I am planting a 6 ft tall evergreen privacy screen between two driveways located on a side road, not a main road. Straight line. The driveway and side road form a "T". The only traffic is the people that live on the street.

How many feet back from the road would be a safe distance to start the privacy screen, in order to maintain visibility for vehicles pulling out of the driveways, both forward and in reverse?

There are no regulations, I have checked with county code enforcement and a lawyer. You can plant right to the property line, which is set back 8 feet from the road. There are no sidewalks. But that does not mean you cannot get sued if someone has an accident because of the trees blocking. I am not sure if 8ft would be enough to protect yourself in the court of law if faced with that type of situation.

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For reference, many normal everyday vehicles these days can be 16 ft long and Suburbans are over 18 ft.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 7:15PM
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There are a few common conventions used in communities across the country. Many communities use a convention of a "sight triangle" where you would meaure along the edge of pavement (face of curb) back 20' from the point where the edge of pavement of the two roads would intersect disregarding the radius of the intersection. They usually allow 3' high plants within the sight triangle as well as trees with no branches lower than 8'. The belief is that it will give an adequate view for traffic safety in a typical residential setting.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 7:57AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Include a photo or give some dimensions of the whole yard for a better answer. It also depends on how much traffic and at what speeds people drive on this side road. If it is a short cul-de-sac, and people have such a short distance to get to their own house that they tend to slow down, the sight lines can be much less. It also depends on how much of your inside the screen/private yard space you need to keep to make it look right from the house.

Your greatest risk is that you can't see a pedestrian or dog approaching the driveway, so I'd think you would want at least 15 feet clear of the curb. Cars coming by you can usually hear, it is people,kids and animals that are of more concern.

In any case, you will hopefully not be having to constantly back out of your drive onto the street, which is even more dangerous for hitting unseen things.

You also don't say how high a screen you intend, as this will make a difference too.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2010 at 10:32PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Lots of theoretical answers here. How about some practical trials? Enlist some help. Get someone to hold a 6ft pole representing the end of your hedge and then get others to walk or drive up and down the road. Drive your car in and out of the driveway forwards, backwards or any other way you can think of. Decide where you need the hedge to end in order to see anyone coming along the road towards the driveway. If you have kids they might even enjoy making you a 6 ft cardboard tree then riding their bikes up and down the road while someone else moves the 'tree' until it's in the best position. Suggestion - make sure both you and the kids are in slow motion - you don't want the fun to turn nasty.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 8:44AM
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Most areas have easments of approx. 20ft. This includes the boulavard and sidewalk. City reqierments in my area. I have dealt with this myself. I know that backing out of a drive needs a good visual for safety and can be done. So pics of the area would be helpful. One thing for sure is don't use dense plantings. Keep it low and airy if possible, and it is. Ground covers with some uprights will work and you can still do some evergreens for year round interest. We also have the ugly utility boxes that are 4 feet tall and need to be screened. Guess what? Right at the end of the drive. I love to use the tried and true Coneflowers, Rudbekia, some creeping phlox and some tall grasses for these. Any combo will do.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 1:26AM
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