Screen ideas to block neighbor's new second story

jb_nj(7)April 27, 2010

My neighbor added another story to their house and I don't want to see it.

Here's my backyard. As you can see I'm confused about what to plant to block the view. I am definitely keeping the Ginko but realize it will take a long time to get big enough to block anything.

I'd like to plant evergreens along the fence line to block a good part of the other house. Ideally whatever I plant, I'd like to minimize the amount of lawn I give up so narrower trees would be better.

Any ideas?

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lkz5ia

Bamboo could fit your needs- tall, narrow evergreen screen...
... Such as Phyllostachys rubromarginata, it is a rampant runner, but it can be controlled with barrier and other means such as rhizome pruning and mowing. Knockout the thuja and juniper and you would have a tall, lush screen of evergreen bamboo in less than 5 years.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 10:46PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

The bamboo seems cold hardy enough from what I read. I'll admit I'm not familiar with the stuff.

1kz5ia, what is needed to control the rhizomes? Are we talking coming by bi-weekly and "pruning" them back like I prune back the ajuga (bugleweed) working as ground cover? By barrier do you mean digging a trench around the planting area and maintaining an underground steel "fence"?

Here is a link that might be useful: Is this the stuff for sale?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 12:30AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i always caution limiting your solution to the property line ... take time to think outside that box ....

i doubt you spend much time.. standing on the other side of the yard ... from where you took the picture... and stare over that way..

anyway ... when i get into this type of situation.. i go to the place i spend the most time.. which usually involves my favorite chair on the patio .... and then i plop my self down ... and come to the understanding.. that from that perspective.. i only need a 4 foot plant on the edge of the patio, rather than a 30 footer out at the fence ...

that is not to say you dont plant both.. but the up close plant gives instant blocking near immediately .. and in 5 or 10 year... when those at the lot line get to size.. you can get rid of the closer plant..

make any sense???

how about a pic or two regarding the entire yard.. and your favorite spot in that yard ...

ken

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 8:48AM
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thisismelissa(z4a-S Twin Cities MN)

Bamboo scares me.
There's a Gardening By the Yard segment where Paul James put the fear of God in me about the stuff and said to only plant it in containers to be safe.

The stuff that Paul James showed was like 3' deep. So, you'd have to dig a trench that deep all the way around where you'd plant (including the fence, or the bamboo will invade the neighbor's too--And THERE is an invitation to a REAL border battle).

That may be worth it to have instant gratification, but I personally am not into THAT much work to accomplish it.

I would also caution against those "fast growing" trees advertised on TV. Yes, their claims of fast growth are true, but a lot of people will tell you they came down just as fast as they grew since the wood was so weak!

Sorry I don't have any better ideas for you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Install Bamboo Barrier

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 5:03PM
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iforgotitsonevermind(♪☺♫)

What is needed there are some more trees with a canopy.
I like kens idea. Plant some oaks or something closer in and mabey some leyland cypress, southern magnolia, nelly r stevens holly, japanese cedar, eastern redcedar nearer to the property line.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 6:54PM
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jb_nj(7)

I'm really trying to keep the plantings close to the fence because I have little kids and I want to give them room to run around and play catch in when the get older.

The photo is a bit deceptive in that from the patio I can't really see the other house. But we do spend a lot of time out in the yard where the photo was taken and the other house bothers me. I need more privacy and solitude.

I did some research on Bamboo and I would only consider the clumping type, which do not seem to get very tall in my area. Bamboo also might be a bit jarring too - it is so different that the other plants I have in my yard.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 9:47PM
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alan_l(6)

thisismelissa: Did you notice how Paul James originally thought bamboo was impossible to manage, then ended up planting some (near where he took down a pine in one episode), and then even visited Bamboo Gardens nursery in a newer episode?

I think he, like many gardeners, was originally frightened of the "vigorous" growth of running bamboo, but then after learning more about it and control methods realized that it's not the monster that he thought. It's not a plant for a casual gardener, that's for sure.

jb_nj: You could put a couple of *large* pots of bamboo there and have a tall, partial screen for a few years until the trees gain some height. Just an idea.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 11:07PM
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stevelau1911

Running bamboo especially the phyllostachys species are ideal for a tall & solid screen that can fill in quickly. Controlling it is not that hard since rhizomes usually grow near the surface.

If you want a tree to block out the neighbors, an Empress tree(paulownia) gets big really fast and has huge leaves to block out the view of the neighbors.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 11:36PM
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zxylene

I give a vote for Bamboo it is beautiful fast growing and don't forget will screen the neighbors house year round.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 12:00AM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

because I have little kids and I want to give them room to run around and play catch in when the get older.

If they don't have room, they'll go somewhere else. No big deal.

You can maintain the bamboo, hope Leylands don't get critters, or add to the value of your home with a nice shade tree that turns good color in the fall.

Dan

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 12:11AM
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jb_nj(7)

What about adding 3 or 4 more Thuja Green Giants along the fence line and removing the Junipers? I'll be keeping the Ginko as my nice shade tree.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 12:50AM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

"Running bamboo especially the phyllostachys species are ideal for a tall & solid screen that can fill in quickly. Controlling it is not that hard since rhizomes usually grow near the surface.

If you want a tree to block out the neighbors, an Empress tree(paulownia) gets big really fast and has huge leaves to block out the view of the neighbors."

This bamboo stuff sounds like a marriage to coming by with the trimmer and removing every runner it ever sends out.

Empress Paulownia is a short lived weed of a tree, another invasive mistake. IF my neighbor planted one I'd invite them over to pluck up every seedling which sprouted in my yard and the common ground. Even Silver Maple is superior not to mention Catalpa if we're going that route.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 2:45AM
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lkz5ia

Anybody that spends time outside and likes to garden, don't have problems with bamboo. Its positives outweigh the negatives for screening purposes as long as one is educated. Toronado, you can grow fargesia rufa, so you can at least get a taste of the bamboo world.

I would agree paulownia wouldn't fit that need since its not evergreen. It doesn't matter if you had a neighbor that planted silver maple, catalpa, or paulownia, they would all seed into your yard. All your neighbors need to grow paperbark maple and then you could rejoice in having some of those things popping up in your yard. Cha-ching

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 9:54AM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

The 'Green Giants' will be 15' across at the base. That will impede your children as well. And their balls/frisbees will be lost forever in the tangle of green.

And, as in recommendations about empress tree, I would wager folks recommending bamboo either don't have it in their yards, or haven't had it for long. If you go the bamboo route, make a concrete caisson first to contain the spread - even the clumping types.

Dan

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 9:54AM
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lkz5ia

Actually, alot of people that have been growing bamboo for awhile don't even recommend barriers, because gives a person a false-sense of security and they strictly go the rhizome pruning route and don't have problems.

Since this person has kids, bamboo could work really good. Kids like playing in it and adults like the zen feel of the grove. The wind gently playing with the leaves, to create a soothing noise, relaxing and relieving the stress of the day.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 10:06AM
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foxd(z5b/6a)

I have had bamboo in my yard for many years. My impression is that many people are their own worst enemies when it comes to controlling bamboo, because they listen to scare stories and ignore what people who actually grow bamboo tell them. A classic example of this was in the Wall Street Journal last year.

I consider Ailanthus, Japanese Knotweed, Kudzu, etc. much more invasive than any bamboo I've grown.

As for the posting that originally started this thread, I would recommend a root barrier along the fence line and curled at the ends to force the rhizomes back into your yard. Then controlling the bamboo by rhizome trimming, mowing, kicking over shoots every couple of days, or developing a taste for stir fry and harvesting the shoots.

And don't let the local wildlife see you eat the shoots, they tend to pick up on new food sources...

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 2:35PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

As implied above, bamboo is a lot of work. I like it personally and when I lived in N CA saw lots of beautiful bamboo. On campus in our department, we had wonderful black bamboo.

But it was even better in N CA because it was in other people's yards. IMHO one of those plants best in other people's yards, in this case due to the prep work and money, and the amount of time needed to contain it.

And if you move, the next guy gets to deal with it. But definitely spend the money on barriers to contain it. You won't be sorry later.

Dan

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 4:00PM
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jb_nj(7)

Bamboo is out - too much work, I don't have the time to spend on the yard as is.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 8:53PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Ken's advice is the best here so far. Or the best in some kind of Zen way...LOL.

As we've discussed elsewhere in GW, there really is no perfect screener plant. The fast growing ones grow too fast and get too big or get diseased. (Leylandii) The slow growing ones are slow but, are likely to be better plants in the long run. I thank my lucky stars I have a couple mature American hollies to protect myself from some neighbors I'd rather not see. They don't form a full screen so I'm filling in the gaps with desirable plants like Fargesia 'Green Screen' and other, rarer hollies.

If you are in NJ you can't be too far from Rarefind. I'm not associated with them but they are one of the best resources for horticulture in your state.
Satyr Hill is a fast growing one if you want to go the native route:
http://www.rarefindnursery.com/index.cfm/action/productdetail/product_id/1622.htm
If you plan to be in your house > 15 years, go with the holly. If you don't plan to be, go with the Green Giants (or Leylands if you must, I think they are unlikely to have serious problems in zn 7 NJ) and let someone else deal with their issues when they get too big.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 9:13PM
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coltrane

Are those fence posts out of plumb, or is it just my eyes? Especially the one between the green giant and the ginko.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 9:57PM
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jb_nj(7)

I think I'll probably stick with waiting for the Ginko to get bigger, which should block most of the view eventually. I plan to be in the house for a long time.

Yes, the fence isn't plumb a lot of the time. After it rains or a dry spell the posts move in their holes. There isn't any concrete in the holes, just gravel and dirt.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 11:33PM
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stimpy926

I'm glad to read you deep sixed the bamboo idea. I've seen too many properties where the original intent was earnest, but years later, after abandonment of perpetual care, result is a monster invading roadways and next door neighbor's tranquility.
You pick a not so good tree, so what... you cut it down. Bamboo never goes away.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 8:44PM
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