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How to Plant a Privacy Screen and Welcome Garden

Creating an attractive, private garden with This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook

In this video, This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook creates an attractive, private garden.


  1. Set a row of potted shrubs in line at the desired location of the privacy screen.
  2. Mark the outline of the planting bed by using a shovel or edger to cut into the ground 12 inches around the row of shrubs. Move the shrubs out of the way.
  3. Remove the grass from the planting bed with a square-blade shovel. Place the grass into a wheelbarrow and then dump it into the compost pile.
  4. Dig a trench for planting the shrubs, making it 2 inches shallower than the height of the root ball. Shovel the excavated soil onto a plastic tarp.
  5. Toss a few handfuls each of super phosphate and starter fertilizer over the planting bed. Lightly rake the soil.
  6. Remove a shrub from its pot and set it down in the planting bed. Rotate the shrub until its best face is pointing in the desired direction.
  7. Shovel soil around the root ball, checking to be sure the shrub is straight and not leaning over.
  8. Scratch at the root ball with a garden claw to loosen any matted roots.
  9. Backfill fully around the shrub, being careful not to shovel dirt on top of the root ball. Repeat to plant the remaining shrubs in the row.
  10. Sprinkle starter fertilizer around the base of each shrub, then scratch the fertilizer into the soil with the garden claw.
  11. Dig holes in the welcome garden bed for the flowering plants.
  12. Sprinkle a little starter fertilizer into each hole, then scratch the fertilizer into the soil.
  13. Use the claw to loosen matted root balls, then set the plants in the holes and backfill with soil.
  14. Set the shorter plants in the front of the garden, and taller ones in the rear.
  15. Thoroughly water each shrub and flowering plant.
  16. Wrap a soaker hose around the base of each shrub and flowering plant. Secure the hose to the ground with plastic stakes.
  17. Use a garden rake to spread 2 inches of bark mulch around the shrubs and plants. Be careful not to pile the mulch up against the plant stems.