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How to Plant a Privacy Screen

This Old House landscaping contractor Roger Cook shares tips on planting a living privacy screen


1. Remove the plants from their pots, being careful not to damage any branches.
2. Line up the plants along the proposed planting bed, spacing them as recommended by information listed on the plants' identification tag.
3. Using a pointed spade, cut the outline of the planting bed into the grass, keeping it about 12 inches away from the plants.
4. Strip off the sod from the planting bed with flat-blade shovel.
5. Use a pointed spade to dig the planting-bed trench 2 inches shallower than the height of plants' root balls; shovel the soil onto a plastic tarp.
6. Add compost and screened topsoil to the dirt dug from the trench, and mix thoroughly with a shovel.
7. Spread a handful of super phosphate and starter fertilizer into the trench.
8. Set the plants in the trench, then rotate each one so that its best face is pointing toward the primary viewing area.
9. Use a three-prong cultivator to scratch loose the compacted soil on each root ball.
10. Shovel the amended soil into the trench, then spread it even with the top of the root ball; don't bury the root balls.
11. Spread another handful of starter fertilizer around the plants, then rake it into the soil.
12. Use a garden hose to thoroughly soak the soil around each plant.
13. Wrap a soaker hose around the base of each plant, then stake the hose in place.
14. Use a garden rake to spread 2 inches of bark mulch over the planting bed; be sure to keep the mulch away from base of the plant.