What You'll Learn

  1. Fencing
  2. Trees and Shrubs
  3. Vines
Trees and Shrubs
There's no substitute for the natural beauty plants provide. And they are usually less expensive than fences and are rarely limited by local codes. What's more, trees and shrubs do a better job of reducing dust and noise than a fence. Disadvantages
Trees and shrubs take time to mature, so they usually don't provide immediate privacy. And they require more ground space than a fence. A narrow hedge will need a minimum of 3 ft., while some hedge plants spread horizontally 8 ft. or more. Even low-maintenance plants require routine watering, weeding and mulching. Making Trees and Shrubs Work
Think of planting for privacy, and hedges probably come to mind. A hedge is a single line of plants, usually all the same variety. A formal hedge is clipped or sheared—often several times during a growing season—to maintain a definite size and shape. But with a lot less work you can have an informal hedge by choosing plants that will naturally stay the height and width you want without the demands of clipping. The following basics will help you get started with a hedge. First, decide between deciduous and evergreen plants. Deciduous plants block views only in spring and summer while they're leafed out. A seasonal screen of this nature might be all that's required if you spend most of your time indoors in winter. Deciduous plants tend to grow faster than evergreens, which is an advantage when planting for privacy. And, as a general rule, you can space them farther apart, so fewer plants are required. What's more, a deciduous tree or shrub typically costs less than a similarly sized evergreen. Evergreens, on the other hand, grow more densely and provide year-round privacy. They make the perfect backdrop for colorful flowers or a mixed shrub border. When choosing plants for hedges, remember, an ideal shrub has dense foliage from top to bottom. Also consider the ultimate height, spread and growth rate of the plants. Especially in places where ground space is limited, select varieties of trees and shrubs that naturally grow tall and narrow. The word "fastigiate" or "columnar" in the plant name indicates just such a growth form. For example, the fastigiate English oak grows 60 ft. high but only 10 to 15 ft. wide, compared with the typical English oak that grows to 40 ft. or more wide. Planting for privacy doesn't have to mean growing a hedge. A casual grouping of different types of shrubs and trees can make an effective and often more interesting screen. For example, a handsome shrub trio that provides flowers and ornamental fruits includes beautybush, bayberry and American highbush cranberry. If space allows, plant these shrubs in a zigzag pattern instead of in straight rows for a denser screen. You can always fill in between slow-growing shrubs with large, temporary perennials and ornamental grasses. Or choose annual flowers, such as castor bean, ornamental amaranth and angel's trumpet. Consider these additional ways to use shrubs and trees for privacy:

•Plant a row of waist-high shrubs, such as dwarf cranberry bush or dwarf Korean lilac, within a larger yard to enclose a swimming pool, patio or deck.
•Alternate groups of plants with fence sections to create an open feeling and reduce the cost of fencing the yard.
•Plant a single tree with horizontally spreading branches, such as mimosa, pagoda dogwood or Chinese pistache, to block overhead views.
•Position a single tree or group of shrubs to break the line of sight in key locations, for example, from the street directly into the house through the front door.
•Create a movable or temporary screen with shrubs or small trees planted in large containers. Container plants are especially useful on a deck or patio where there's no ground for gardening. Place containers on wheeled plant caddies for easy maneuvering and to protect deck boards from rot.
•Plant a row of tall, narrow shrubs or trees along an existing fence to add greater height to the privacy screen.

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