Monday, November 19, 2012

A Little Privacy Please

I live on a busy street and contend with need to establish privacy without appearing unwelcoming. In research process of my privacy project, I found inspiration in a beautifully illustrated gardening book, Landscaping for Privacy: Innovative Ways to Turn your Outdoor Space into a Peaceful Retreat, by Marty Wingate.  The author addresses garden intrusion in many forms, but I will be focusing on the privacy needs of my front and side yard gardens.

Solution 1: Buffers

Pride of Madeira cover up the unwanted view of alley.
Buffers help the homeowners avoid seeing things they don’t want to see or hearing things they don’t want to hear. When we bought our home, our three established plumerias acted as a buffer between our property and our neighbor’s property to the west. They also buffer some of the road noise and the road dust that blows toward the house on that side. The east side of our home had no such buffer. Approximately 2 years ago, Hubby planted a half dozen Pride of Madeira along the east side of our yard to buffer traffic noise and dust from the alley that runs along that side of our property.  With the plumerias on the west and the Pride of Madeira on the east, we informally established the boundaries of our property and removed the site lines directly into our neighbor’s yard and the alley. 

Solution 2: Barriers

Japanese variegated mock orange non-hedge
Barriers can be a touchy subject. On one hand, the homeowners want exclusivity, but do not want to appear unwelcoming to their guests and neighbors. Fences are the logical choice and there are a wealth of materials, heights, and styles to accommodate any garden. However, fencing is expensive and must comply with city codes and HOA restrictions. My solution to the expense of fencing was a hedgerow of my favorite shrub, Japanese variegated mock orange. Hubby indulged my whim in removing the kangaroo paws, succulents, and tea trees from the beds facing the sidewalk. The mock orange will create a lovely barrier to digging (and pooping) dogs, plumeria pickers, and road dust and debris . . . once they grow.  Mock orange have a slow to moderate rate of growth compared to other options, but I insisted on this plant because I love the bright appearance and the gorgeous fragrance their blooms release starting in February.  For now, I am stuck waiting for the individual plants to grow into a hedge and create the barrier I desire.

Solution 3: Screens

Fourth of July are climbing roses that will make good screens.
Screens are an ideal means to provide partial coverage but retain accessibility. I would love to create a screen of sorts that covers the garbage and recycling cans we keep on the east side of the front yard, but I have yet to devise a cost effective solution that works for the space. I have also contemplated creating a jasmine trellis to enclose the north side of the backyard patio. I am unsure if I want to create division in that part of the garden, but I would love to cover the compost container.  Lastly, Hubby and I would like to screen our cinder block wall near our fruit trees with Fourth of July Roses. Thorns will be a good barrier to incursion, but be prepared to deal with them effectively. Thorn plants are not good choices for families with children and inquisitive dogs, and there is much care involved in thorn plants so they do not become unruly. Word to the wise: Always do your research!

Good barriers make for better security, vistas, sounds, and ultimately, better peace of mind. The key is to complete these privacy modifications in an esthetically pleasing way that hopefully impresses the neighbors and guests without appearing unwelcoming. To better address your privacy needs, I recommend reading Landscaping for Privacy as a starting point for ideas and an extensive plant list that will accommodate all North American climates.

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