Friday, April 6, 2012

LANDSCAPING: Add A Living Privacy Screen to Your Small Home

A living privacy screen around your small home’s yard does triple-duty: It promotes privacy, security, and beauty. 

Here’s how: 
Block neighbors’ view from their second-story windows: Opt for mature, tall evergreens for year-round privacy. Plant tall, upright trees: American holly, Leyland cypress, cedar, pine (note size and circumference of the tree at maturity and choose accordingly). 

Block street views: Use shorter, thicker shrubs and hedges. Plant fast-growing shrubs: Red and yellow twig dogwood, American hazelnut, forsythia, Chinese privet. For security: Thorny hedges are dense, and the “ouch” factor discourages intrusion (you’ll want to consider these carefully if you have small children). Plant: Spanish bayonet (yucca), roses, flying dragon (poncirus), firethorn (pyracantha). “Oohs” and “aahs”: Combine ornamental trees, hedges, and trellises of flowering vines for a living privacy screen of year-round beauty. 

Ornamental hedges: Burning bush, purple lilac, tri-color willow. Ornamental trees: dogwood, Japanese maple, smoke tree. Small, confined areas: Tall grasses and bamboo work well to screen patios and garden sitting spots. 

Tall ornamental grasses: plume grass (Erianthus ravennae), maiden grass. Get in the zone Where you live makes a big difference in what you plant. The U.S. Department of Agriculture plant zone will help you decide. Climate and soil conditions are key. If you’re unsure of local conditions, hire a landscape architect or landscape designer to help develop a plan, or ask your state cooperative extension service for advice. 

How much will it cost? Traditional fencing for an 70-by-90-foot lot could run $3,000 to
$5,000, depending on materials. Privacy screening plants for the entire perimeter easily could cost double that, especially if you use a landscaper. You can use smaller—and therefore cheaper—plants, but your privacy will be limited until they grow. Buy in bulk for the whole yard, and you’ll get a better deal. 

 How long you plan to stay in the house matters, too. Some plants grow several feet in a year. Stick around for a few years and you’ll have a full-grown privacy screen. Here are two cost estimates for a 50-linear-foot lot line: Five young 2- to 4-foot American holly plants at $50 each (they’ll grow to 10 feet wide) will cost $250. Mature 6-foot evergreens with a 3-foot spread could cost $150 each. 

You’ll need 16, for a total cost of about $2,400. 

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