Privacy Live Fence

nvrnugh(7b-8a Chesapeake, VA)December 27, 2013

I have read through quite a few posts which has helped me narrow my questions down :)

The set up: (sorry if it's long winded)
I have a corner lot with a C or U for a yard if you will. All of which is quite visible to both streets. I do currently have a 4 foot chain link fence. I honestly hate the look of chain link no offense to anyone. To change out my fence is quite an ordeal (must have permission from 10 adjacent neighbors all sides) and expensive (surveys, PVC 6ft that I would like) etc. So I want to put a live fence outside my current fence. I looked and the city calls this the buffer yard so I'm good to plant there. I have about 2-3 feet before you get to the wonderful drainage ditches. Other side of the drain ditch is the natural gas line then the road.

My main reason is privacy. I can't be in the yard, on the deck (behind the house not pictured), play with my dog, have friends etc. without the entire world seeing as it's a busy neighborhood.

I can't do anything about the front yard but I want something to go along the side/back yard. I've read what you said about fast usually equals headache. The line would get FULL sun east to west and if you don't know VA weather it's all over the place.

The ideas:
So, I was considering a hedge but reading through I'm wondering if the trimming is as bad as folks say?

The ones I considered are:
Japanese boxwood
Japanese Euonymus
North Privet
Wintergreen Boxwood

As I read some folks mentioned "trees".
Green Giant Arborvitae
Emerald Green Thuja

The Questions:
Considering you have more experience than me which would you go with?
Do I have enough room outside the fence to put it in? I'm okay if it eventually I have to take it out.

I don't think the city would let it get to tall lol but under 8ish I should be able to get away with. Though they don't or I can't find an ordinance with height restrictions. I do have lines overhead so that's a tall concern :). Ultimately, I would like to have full privacy for at least that part of the yard.

Thanks so much for any assistance,

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The usual problems of trying to screen a residential lot are that shrubs and trees used tend to occupy much width, require much maintenance (trimming) and take too long to grow to screening height. An easy and inexpensive way to provide screening is by using a vine growing on a support. The cheapest support is wood posts between which "porch swing" chain is suspended on stout hooks. From the chain, twine (on which twining vines will climb) is dropped at 12" intervals. The bottoms ends of the twine are secured in place by tying them to bamboo skewers embedded in the ground. The twine and skewers are temporary, lasting long enough for vines to reach the chain, at which point the chain becomes the only necessary support. An alternative method of creating the same thing is to use horizontal wire (such as plastic coated clothesline) stapled at 12" vertical intervals, to the posts. See the illustration for better understanding.

Since the vine would cover the structural support, its' possible to go cheap with basic, unadorned posts. If you want it to look great before the vine covers it -- and at possible future intervals -- it's possible to incorporate improved details and materials into the structure. There are barely limits to what one could create.

It's easy to achieve quick cover by using annual vines like morning glories or moonflower. A permanent, but slower growing perennial vine, such as Bignonia, could be simultaneously incorporated that would take over and provide sustained screening where the annual vines leave off. Of course, what one would use depends on what grows well in their area.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2013 at 6:43PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

See how 'Green Tower' boxwood does in your climate. It gets 9' tall but stays only about 2' wide. Or one of the fastigiate Hollys?

Here's a young 'Green Tower', so it has yet to get dense, but you can see how narrow it stays. It's about 9' already, tall, but not TOO tall.

Good luck with your project. One look at your lot and I can understand why you would want a little privacy!

Here is a link that might be useful: green tower boxwood

    Bookmark   December 27, 2013 at 6:55PM
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From the sidewalk on the side of the house, down the back of the house, I would plant something evergreen and fast growing. If it doesn't grow fast, it will drive you crazy waiting for the privacy.
It may even be worth it to invest and save up for bigger shrubs so you don't have to wait for years for it to grow in.
You have enough yard to even plant the shrubs on the inside of the fence, which is probably what I would do.
If you are a true zone 8, wax myrtle grows fast, the birds love them, you can trim them when ever you want, very easy to take care of. You may have to go to a nursery to see if they have them.
If if gets unruly at all, VERY easy to trim.
Sweet tea olive is also evergreen, but get a bigger one.
Blooms are fragrant, easy to care for, and can be trimmed whenever you want. Loves sun.
There is a nice upright Yew, that you can probably look around for a bigger one, not expensive, very low maintance, easy to trim if you want. Doesn't get real wide, good screener.
For about 40.00 you could probably find decent size arborvitae, but NO GREEN GIANT, they aren't called green giant for nothing.
Pick a variety of different evergreens to plant around your fence, it will look nice.
You could also grow a nice evergreen vine on that fence,
Somethig that twines, like wisteria, but not wisteria, too aggresive, and you will have to prune it every day. LOL!

    Bookmark   December 27, 2013 at 11:06PM
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nvrnugh(7b-8a Chesapeake, VA)

Thanks so much for your ideas! I will start to research them.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2013 at 8:05AM
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I would not do a tree becoz the space is so small. I would not do forsythia becoz they look good for only a few weeks and are bare in winter.
I have a holly, might be Nelly Foster?, it hasn't gotten really big but maybe becoz it gets too much shade? Lorapetalum is pretty, there is the purpley one with pink flowers and the green one with white flowers. I have both and my mom on the gulf coast has the purple one, it gets tall fast, I'm always pruning it for her, but you could let yours get tall. It is very easy just to shear it into an oval-y shape. I love to prune but you might not. The lorapetalum might get too wide, but as I say, you can prune it to be how you want. It seems pretty indestructible. Birds love to hide and seek cover in winter there, and nest in it too.
I have another idea, which is to create a smaller privacy zone nearer to your house, to 'privatize' the deck, for example. Or the entryway to your house, or make a smaller closed in 'garden room' in your yard. It might save you money, and allow you to make more of a mixed shrub border, which I think would add interest and value to your home. I don't know if you are that interested in gardening, but personally I prefer the mixed shrubs rather than the monoculture of just one shrub. Some folks also hang outdoor drapes (?) not sure what you call it, around their porch, which gives shade and privacy, and / or build a pergola over the deck which can have vines or the draping fabric. Good luck. I enjoyed this challenge!

    Bookmark   December 28, 2013 at 12:51PM
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I think shrubs could be grown as fence in your case.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 10:49PM
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I think shrubs could be grown as fence in your case.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 12:44AM
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another one

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 7:41AM
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my second perspective shows how it looks like with the "tree screen". in order to show the inside, I adjusted the tree screen to be transparent, hope you guys can understand.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 7:59AM
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nvrnugh(7b-8a Chesapeake, VA)

That's great! I can't put anything in the front yard due to the street and viewing at the intersection. Well, let me say I can but it couldn't get any taller than the current 4' link fence as you must be able to see through the corner. Now that would certainly work for the side.
As far as putting anything inside my dog takes priority. With that said I will be planting inside for my veggie garden. Clearly small and container will be me :)

I'm between your idea vine (thinking fuzzy kiwi) and a Thujia variety (Degroot's Spire Eastern Arborvitne) at my local nursery. The lady said it would do well and it doesn't get to thick or tall at 10x3.

I've had the place for 1 1/2 yrs and I'm willing to wait for the privacy.Though I will admit the sooner the better for me!

I will most certainly be doing something around the deck as soon as spring comes and I really like your ideas. I think a "curtain" of sorts at the side walk once the privacy gets in would be fantastic to pull back and forth as needed.

I truly enjoy GW for the community and folks willingness to assist a fellow (trying ot be) green thumbs. Thank you all so much. If anyone else has an idea drop it on by :)


    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 8:06AM
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"The lady said it would do well and it doesn't get to thick or tall"... Those are "famous last words." Once a plant achieves 10' x 3', what will it do in its following years? My belief is that it will continue to grow. Check more sources and you will see it will grow larger.

Kiwi would not be near my first choice. It gets woody and very beefy. Look for what would do the job best with the least work for you ... unless you just like work.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 8:41PM
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    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 11:55PM
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For what it's worth, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden, DeGroot's Spire will be 15-20' tall at 15-20 years, and 4-6' wide.
They do list a few that are a bit smaller:
Thuja occidentalis 'Smaragd', AKA Emerald Green Arborvitae, will be 12-14' and 3-4' wide.
Thuja occidentalis 'Holmstrup' gets 10-15' and 3-4' wide.

While I don't grow any of these specific varieties, I have Techny and Sunkist Arborvitae as part of a mixed border planted to screen a work area from the drive. They are both slow-growing and are supposed to not end up above 15' while growing relatively wide (5-10',) perfect for my purpose of screening. I have them mixed with some small trees and large shrubs as well as clematis vines and some large perennials. I chose to do a mixed border since I didn't want the formality of a green wall; I wanted it to look like a garden area, and I needed to avoid things that would shade solar panels which are part of what I wanted screened. If you are interested in this type of planting, you could plant some plants on the outside and some on the inside of your fence to get the bed width you would need for more than one layer of plants.

Another thought - a small tree such as one of the smaller crabs or something similar for your area, set back from the corner enough to allow for good sight lines would provide some privacy from the corner if there were also some low plants along the fence.

Here is a piece of my screening border at the end of its sixth growing season, though not all the plants are that old. Current maximum height is about 8'.
From 2013

Here is a link that might be useful: Missouri Botanical Garden plant finder

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 11:38AM
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here, this is a CAD plan.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 8:30AM
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jcalhoun(8b Mobile County AL)

I think the best solution is a short privacy fence. If you need to go the hedge route, I'd do a combination of dahoon and yaupon hollies since they are native, get thick, grow fairly quickly, tolerant of most any soil, and take pruning well.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 3:26AM
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nvrnugh(7b-8a Chesapeake, VA)

Honestly, I didn't think this would be this hard! I'm glad to continue reading and I see Yardvaark what you are saying about the kiwi. I just thought edible was the way to go.

Feels like any tree will keep growing and it's fustrating to read different sites give you different grow expectations. How are you supposed to make the right decision lol.

I've been over on the vine form as i really think i don't have to survey and get approval for a trellis and seems like they will grow faster. Of course how invasive is the question now. I'm glad i have time to continue to read, read and read. Did I mention more reading :)

    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 8:48AM
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nvrnugh(7b-8a Chesapeake, VA)

Honestly this seems impossible! I've been researching all day. Either it's too vigorous (Hydrangea, Trumpet, Moon Flower, Passion Flower, Kiwi) or it’s toxic to dogs (Ivy, Morning Glory, Wisteria, Clematis, Hops and more). Heck most make it to both lists! I didn't imagine I would come on here and get a dozen options but each and everything I’ve read is impossible. I really think I'm going to have to suffer through the public offerings.
I thank you each very much for your thoughts and considerations.


    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 2:40PM
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"Either it's too vigorous ... or it’s toxic to dogs .... Heck most make it to both lists!"

Vanessa, for the vine scheme I mentioned above, one would not want a vine that is "too vigorous" ... which generally means large and woody (like Wisteria and Kiwi.) Unlike yourself, I would not rule out plants because they were considered "poisonous." Poisonous plants abound in the landscape, but the likelihood of a child or pet being poisoned is about as great as someone in Kansas being bitten by a shark! [That morning glories are on a list of toxic plants illustrates the inaccuracy of the information available. They could qualify at some level ... but, in enough quantity, so could table salt! Morning glory seeds were commonly poisoned by seed producers because they contain natural substances capable of producing hallucinogenic effects. (Hopefully, no one will read about it here and think it worth trying. Reliable sources indicate unpleasant side effects are included!)] Unless you plan on force-feeding poisonous plant parts to a dog, the risk is negligible.

If you're looking for a vine that is perfect in every way -- as though you were shopping for a piece of furniture -- you probably have unrealistic expectations of what plants are capable of. There's nothing that will be maintenance free. But there are plenty of vines that will be capable and beautiful without great maintenance difficulty. Not sure why you're ruling out Clematis. Some of them seem like contenders to me. I repeat that Bignonia -- especially 'Tangerine Beauty' -- is a good one to consider. Taking another tack, it would be easy to experiment with annuals on a small scale, since they have the ability to grow and cover quickly. (However, they do not last. Still, they can be useful as a way to begin or may work if only a seasonal effect is necessary ... which in your climate might be the case.) There are many options of how to attack this problem with vines. A main characteristic I would be looking for is that a vine can be easily SHEARED, i.e., that one does not need to cut thick, woody parts.

I happen to be presently working on 100 linear feet of the very same problem. In this case, I wasn't able to begin growing anything until mid summer, when I planted 80' of moonflower vine and 20' of 'Grandpa Ott' morning glories (which I conclude I do NOT care for; they pale in beauty compared to common old 'Heavenly Blue.' The color is great, but the flower size stinks.) It took the plants about 6 to 8 weeks to create a nearly solid screen. There were a very small amount of "thin" spots. (I planted one seed per foot.) For the most part, the screening effect lasted into October, at which time, the bottom of the screen began to thin. The process gradually worked its way to the top. It's finished and what's left is a semi-transparent filtering type screen ... something like a beaded curtain. It doesn't much matter because it's the time of year when there is not too much use of the space. Still, even the "beaded curtain" look provides a sense of privacy much better than having nothing at all. (I should mention that the neighborhood restrictions preclude having any privacy fence. One can only screen with a hedge ... which usually means a LOT of work; the vine is much easier to manage, since it can only go where I "tell" it to go.) Meanwhile, there are permanent vines (in the Bignonia family) that were planted at the same time as the annuals. They're barely visible now (12" ht.) I expect, though, that when Spring comes, they will burst out with growth and take less than 2 years to cover the whole screening affair. I intend to plant annual vines again next year so that there is coverage during the warm season. I will probably do this twice since summers (in Florida) are long and the vines do not last forever. Btw, the moonflower vines were spectacular, covering the screen with thousands of huge, deliciously scented flowers every evening throughout the latter part of the summer.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 1:04PM
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nvrnugh(7b-8a Chesapeake, VA)

I'm not looking for maintenance free but the vigorous warning of it taking over everything having zero knowledge is well a bit scary. I don't mind yard work especially with benefits of my garden, compost or adding privacy to the list.

As far as toxic, I imagine the ASPCA to be on the up and up. Though I will say it doesn't tell you why it's on the list or how much needed. My boy Barley loves to eat leaves, bark, twigs etc. Honestly, if it's in the yard he will try it out. I just don't think taking a chance is worth the risk, even at a million to one.

I will keep looking and perhaps take a chance on a non toxic "vigorous" one and make certain it's not about how thick the wood gets.

As always thank you,

Here is a link that might be useful: ASPCA Toxic List for Dogs

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 7:55AM
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Assuming you don't have any issues with regular heavy snow, I would go with regular big box store Thuja occidentalis 'Smaragd' (aka "Emerald Green"). You can always sheer back if needed, but I think they would fit perfectly. Other options include fastigiata style boxwood such as 'Dee Runk', 'Graham Blandy', 'John Baldwin'

You could leverage an ornamental tree to give some added privacy in your front yard, without compromising your dogs yard space. I would use something like Acer palmatum 'Fireglow', but any small to medium tree would work.

Since you can't plant anything tall close to the road, I would back up and put a medium size conifer or two in the yard. The blue one pictured is Picea engelmannii 'Bush's Lace', stays narrow and doesn't get too tall. (~ 6x4 @10years). Then if it still felt too open, you could always add some type of vine, ivy, or really low narrow hedge in front yard like Ilex crenata 'Sky Pencil' and just keep it hedge to the height of the fence.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 10:35PM
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Vanessa, has your city told you their parameters for avoiding blocking line of sight at the corner. Something low there to soften the fence would be nice.

Also, thinking you can plant to the inside near the existing chain link fence. Not right at the fence - maybe 2-3'.

I planted wax myrtle which grows fast, can easily be pruned to control height and width. It would grow through the fence. You could enlarge the openings with metal clippers.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 9:38AM
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