Many homeowners use their porches, decks, and yards as extensions of their living space. To feel at ease, however, they need privacy. Walls and fences create privacy, but can be off-putting and expensive. ‘Living screens, ’ methods of landscaping for privacy, provide another alternative.
When creating a living privacy fence, make sure to pick plants that are appropriate for your property in terms of hardiness, sun, and moisture. Younger plants will be cheaper and easier to install, but if you need privacy quickly, buy larger ones and expect to pay a lot more. You can also use shades, shutters, or awnings until your plant cover grows in fully.
Plants grown on trellises create an effective screen that allows light and air to pass through. “Trellises are very handy because they take up very little space, ” says Doug Gagne of The Mixed Border Nursery and Gardens in Hollis, NH. They can be made of pressure-treated wood, plastic, iron, copper, or aluminum—just make sure the trellis is sturdy enough for the plant you grow on it. Most trellises have stakes that go into the ground. If you’re going to use one on your porch, you’ll also need to secure it to the frame or soffit. If you use a trellis to screen your deck, you may have to combine it with a structure like a pergola across the top for support. Good perennial vines to grow on a trellis include clematis, honeysuckle, and Dutchman’s pipe. Popular climbing annuals include morning glories and scarlet runner beans.
Hedges can be as tall or short as you like, and can fit in small or large spaces. Select shrubs or trees that won’t grow taller or wider than you need, otherwise you’ll spend lots of time pruning. When planting, calculate how much space the full-grown plants will fill so they don’t encroach on your house or the neighbor’s yard. Leave breaks in the hedge, so you won’t be boxed in or send an unfriendly message. “You want privacy but you also want it to be inviting, ” says Patricia St. John at St. John Landscapes in Berkeley, CA. “To enclose it all the way makes it seem very uninviting and tells visitors to go away.”