PLANTING FOR PRIVACY
A view of nearby neighbors and communities can be great, but at some point everyone craves a bit of privacy or sanctuary from the outside world when they go out into their yard. Whether it’s to block an unsightly view or distracting street noise, planting a privacy hedge is usually a top priority in home landscaping. The right choice of hedge plants can help create an outdoor oasis, enhance and beautify the surrounding area and buffer street noise and wind.
The word hedge can, and often does, mean a narrow formal row of one kind of evergreen shrub defining a boundary line between one area and another. What I want to suggest with this article is a different type of hedge- more of an old style hedgerow- a mixed planting of evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs set out in a more naturalistic staggered pattern. A softer more wild looking hedge will provide habitat for birds and year round color and interest for nearby residents. The benefits of such a planting are many- a less formal layout is easier to maintain (less pruning) plus anything that dies or is damaged is less noticeable and more easily covered up or even incorporated into the design. In addition, mixed plantings create changing seasonal interest- evergreen winter structure following by spring and summer blooming shrubs followed by fall foliage colors, berries and bark textures.
Some of our favorite trees and shrubs are: (you may already have some of the following in your yard to build off of, by all means try to incorporate any mature plants you may have into the hedge it will give a more instantly mature look)
Remember, repetition and variety are both key to successful design- that is choose 3-5 of your favorites and repeat them in odd numbered groups (usually 3-5-7 depending on the final length and size of the hedgerow) throughout the length of the border. Scale the hedge to the size of the yard and surrounding buildings and curve the edges to create form and flow and interesting niches to view garden art or perhaps plant bulbs and perennials Another suggestion is to choose at least one each of the different blooming seasons to mix peak times of color. Of course, hedgerows don’t happen overnight- yours can be a beautiful and constantly evolving and changing tapestry of color and texture as plants mature and weave together over the seasons. Be sure to space plants to allow for the mature size and, if you have a small yard, it’s a good idea to plant more of the great new dwarf varieties of trees and shrubs so as not to overcome the yard and block out the sun. Look for the words ‘Nana’ or ‘Compacta’ in the names of the plants. During the first few years when things look a bit sparse, temporary inexpensive willow or lightweight twig fencing can help fill in the gaps as will large planters, annual flowers and vines, birdhouses and birdbaths, and garden furnishings. Don’t forget to leave some strategic openings or maybe even a gate or arbor for easy access to your friendly (and now grateful) neighbors!