The Q&A Archives: evergreen privacy from the neighbors with a deck

Question: Please help me finally enjoy my backyard with recommendations for year round tall or quick growing plants that I can use for privacy. On one side I have a neighbor with a high deck. On the other side I have a neighbor with a boat-the neighbor is always on that boat. There is no privacy in my back yard!!

Answer: When you try to create privacy, it can sometimes work better to shield a smaller area that you use all the time, such as a patio or deck. To do that, plant a small tree such as a crabapple surrounded by some shrubbery such as lilacs or forsythia. (Allow ample space for the shrubs to grow and mature.)

This would be an island style planting. Putting the planting closer to you blocks the view faster than trying to grow something at the perimeter of the property. The priniciple is the same as how much vision you can block by holding your hand at arm's length compared to up close to your face.

Vines grow tall faster than other woody plants such as trees and shrubs. You can install a lattice panel, for example, to support a vine or install a pergola overhead to support a vine. This will give you the fastest sight control as well as an instant "feeling" of separation and protection. Some large flowering vines to consider would include Campsis radicans or trumpet vine and the fall blooming clematis or Clematis terniflora.

Your local county extension and/or professionally trained nurseryman may also have suggestions based on a more detailed understanding of the growing conditions in your yard and your overall design goals for the property. Good luck with your project!

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