There are many reasons why one might want a privacy screen (or several!) in their yard. Nosey neighbors, to block an unsightly view, to add visual boundaries to your yard, to create an "outdoor room" or add a sense of comfort and intimacy- these are just a few of the reasons to look into creating a privacy screen.
There are many avenues to creating a privacy screen, including fencing, structures, as well as using plants. When using plants (whether in addition to hardscape as well), many automatically think of evergreens. Evergreens make an amazing screen! You can add further interest and privacy by adding in deciduous plants (which lose their leaves in fall). We will talk about different plants that work exceptionally well to create privacy screens in today's post. Let's go!
First things first, what are you trying to screen from? Is there a neighbor's house directly beside yours? Do their windows face your backyard? How tall do you need privacy (i.e. if they have 2nd story windows that can see directly into your backyard, you may want something tall that grows fast!!)? Sometimes it isn't a neighbor you're screening from, but an unpleasant view. Or maybe you're trying to create boundaries for children or pets to know where they can play. Maybe it's all of the above! Whatever your reasoning is for creating a screen, take time to think through its purpose and be very strategic with where your privacy screen will be installed to make the most of it.
Now that you've identified where to place a privacy screen (or several places), what kind of sunlight does this area receive? This will influence what you can plant in that space. Full sun is equivalent to 6+ hours of sun a day, or full afternoon sun (as it is the hottest sun of the day). Part sun is morning sun with afternoon shade.
Also consider how much shade these trees or shrubs will create once they are mature. Will they create too much shade in an area you need sunlight (such as a vegetable garden)? Or will they create unwanted shade or maintenance for your neighbor?
When creating a screen, you can plant the same plant in a row and many people choose to, as shown above. This style works well in a skinnier area and can appear formal and traditional, which looks great with many styles of homes. We want to also share another way to screen that creates a more natural looking screen, like it wasn't intentionally planted uniformly to be a privacy screen.
In this example below (#2), you can see several evergreens were chosen to create a screen. You can even add a mixture of blooming deciduous shrubs or trees in there as well. They will lose their leaves in fall, but will create interest in the warm months and possibly gorgeous fall color intermingled or in front of the evergreen screen. An added bonus to making a screen that uses many different plants is that if one plant becomes diseased or dies, you can easily fill that spot with something else and aren't searching for the exact same variety and size of evergreen to fill a spot (like in example #1 above).
Both types of screens work wonderfully and you should decide which route you'd like to go while planning.
14 Evergreen Trees and Shrubs that Make Excellent Screens
When deciding on plants at the garden center, consider the plant's mature size and not the size it is currently. Our signage in front of our plants shares the mature size. Use this to gauge how far apart to space your plants as well. It is a simple mistake to plant way too close together. We understand as you want instant privacy. By keeping mature size in mind, it will help you in the long run have healthy plants and enough room for them. In the meantime, you can always zigzag your privacy screen (so there is ample space between plants but one in front of each "gap"). Then as it fills in, it will be lush without being too squished.
As we head into fall, fall is a great time to plant. Pay close attention to watering this fall, as it is typically our driest season. Please ask us specific watering questions.
Enjoying a private space in your backyard enhances your home and creates a lovely outdoor escape from the world. Feel free to ask us questions at the garden center regarding using plants as privacy screens- we are happy to help.