The Q&A Archives: Living Screen for Narrow Alley

Question: My neighbor's house is separated from my own by about 8 feet. I have two windows on the side of the house facing the neighbor's, and hope to grow something to provide privacy. The distance from the ground to the top of the window is about 9 feet. I would like to plant a natural barrier shielding our home from hers that will not overgrow the entire section. Any suggestions?

Answer: Unfortunately, that is a very narrow area for any plant expected to reach such height. It is undoubtedly quite shady there, as well, since the houses are so close together. You might try a fence with a lattice panel on top to reach eight or nine feet, and then clothe it in a vine such as English ivy, Virginia creeper, or sweet autumn clematis to soften the look. Another possibility would be a using a shade tolerant large shrub such as viburnum, trained as a small tree. Since these trees would be deciduous, you might create a similar effect year round by hanging a houseplant and a lace curtain in the window under a grow light. I hope this gives you some ideas.

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