The Q&A Archives: Living Walls in landscaping

Question: We have fairy dry, clay soil. I would like to build "green walls" around my yard, which is about 3/4 of an acre, and on a corner lot. Our house is situated in the back right corner of the lot. I want a sense of privacy.

Answer: There are several variables to consider when contemplating such a planting. Budget is often an important consideration, as is the expected time-frame for results. Another issue is that of aesthetics, and finally there is the question of selecting and caring for the plants.

If you are literally considering a hedge, you might look at arborvitae, yew and and privet, all time-honored hedging plants. For a more informal look you might consider some of the shrubby dogwoods or perhaps the larger old-fashioned shrubs such as forsythia or spirea.

Sometimes a good solution to a privacy problem includes both fencing and plants. Fencing can be covered and softened with vines for an immediate result, and if used up close to the house or area most in need of privacy, can often solve the problem almost overnight.

In addition, you might consider combining evergreens and deciduous plants in "drifts" or groupings strategically located to block the most offensive or important views. You might also consider a mixture of trees and shrubs, perhaps chosen along a theme such as attracting wildlife or providing scented flowers.

You have many options and lots of space to work with -- have fun!

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