Your home and garden should be a place of sanctuary where you feel you can relax and be away from the hustle and bustle of life. However, for most homeowners and renters, living in close proximity to each other is more than common today, with ever increasing small yards and narrow spaces. A front porch or apartment patio close to a busy street might not be the quietest place to sit, but sometimes it may be the only place you have to get outside in your down time.
Creating a noise buffer from city life or hiding unwanted views is more than often a necessity in today’s garden.
Multiple Screen Ideas
Privacy solutions can come in many forms and multiple uses. Not only can screening be used for privacy purposes, but it can also help create a welcoming ambiance or an “outdoor room” in a garden that is intimate for your friends and family without disturbing neighbors. Screen barriers can be used to help direct and guide people through the garden, help soften urban hardscapes, and create curb appeal while still creating privacy from the street.
You can even use elevation to your advantage. Berms and steeps slopes can be planted with taller screening plants for a combination of both permanent structures and plant material. This allows both privacy and visual curb appeal for the neighbors to enjoy while creating a private oasis from inside your home.
Plants can easily act as a living fence to create a screen. Depending on your choice of plants, an advantage of having a well-planned hedge is that it can reach virtually any desired height. Trees and shrubs have multiple benefits for screening other than to hide unwanted views: they encourage birds and pollinators to visit the garden, provide shade in the garden when extreme temperatures are present during the summer months, protect from wind, and help improve the surrounding air quality. And you don’t necessarily have to use a single type of shrub for a hedge. Try a mixed shrub screen of both evergreen and deciduous shrubs with dense branching for multi-season interest (ornamental shrubs such as Pieris japonica (evergreen), Callicarpa (deciduous), Arbutus (evergreen), and Taxus (evergreen) are great options. If you wish to deter unwanted guests or wildlife from entering your space, you can include hedgerows that consist of thorny plants such as Hawthorn, Barberry, or Holly.
Before planting, it’s always best to spend a little time researching the right plant for the space you want to place your hedge or specific screening. Be sure to select plants that are suited to the soil and sun conditions of the area.
Screening a narrow space with plants can be a challenge to accommodate. An easy mistake to make is underestimating a plants potential growth overtime especially if you have limited patio and outdoor space. Plants that grow too big for their space become overwhelming and overcrowded and can even make the space feel claustrophobic. You may not want a tree or shrub that will eventually get to 10 ft wide if you only have 3ft of space for it to grow! However, these narrow plants are excellent and adaptable to a tight space; Ilex crenata ‘Sky Pencil’ , Taxus x media ‘Hicksii’, and clumping bamboos (best if contained in a planter just to be safe).
Permanent Fences & Structures
Wood or permanent fence structures are a common fixture in suburban yards. Oftentimes these wood fences are simple designs but harbor a lot of potential. A wood fence can be an opportunity to have multiple uses. You can use taller fence posts to string lights across a patio space, or incorporate craftsman style or modern patterns to reflect your aesthetic. A wood fence can also incorporate an arbor above it that extends the top of the fence line for growing vines such as evergreen clematis, jasmine, or climbing hydrangea to name a few.
Decorative privacy panels are an attractive focal point in the garden which be standalone screen barriers in lieu of a wood fence. Decorative screen materials such as Corten steel, aluminum, and other metals have become popular alternatives to a simple metal trellis with vines. You can find metal screens that are prefabricated and are readily available online to choose from or you can work with a company to create a custom design allowing an opportunity to collaborate with a fabrication artist. A company like Parasoleil has both pre-made and custom options with so many different pattern and finish options.
Other types of structural barriers that can be used to create privacy are pots and planters. Potted screen plants and planters can help define and designate spaces that you may want privacy and separation from other parts of the yard and can be moved to new locations should the need arise. Planter pots are also a great solution for small apartment spaces or other temporary living spaces.
Achieving the Garden Haven
Creating Privacy in your home garden or small balcony space is possible. Screens and fences can be an opportunity to create individuality in the garden, and can be an extension of your style to the outdoors. Whether you choose a plant hedge, built structure, or screens, there are many options that can be used to create your privacy of space and sanctuary.