Making your garden a little more private
Several times a year I get a phone call in which the caller is speaking in hushed tones. At some point in the conversation, the reason for the call becomes apparent. “I want to block my neighbors,” the caller whispers. It is almost as if the caller thinks that the party line phone system is still in use. This is a difficult phone call to make, but thankfully the solution is not usually that difficult.
According to Dictionary.com, a site we use heavily during homework time, the definition of privacy is the state of being private; retirement or seclusion. I don’t exactly understand that definition, but based on that definition, privacy sounds pretty darn appealing. Establishing privacy in your yard, when done right, can enhance your enjoyment of your yard.
As with any landscaping project, planning is key. If you think that you would like to block or screen something or someone, consider the answers to these questions:
What do I want to block?
Do I want to block my view looking out or my neighbor’s view looking in?
What time of the year do I want this screening?
Do I want to divert people’s attention instead of trying to establish screening?
Is this something I really want?
Have I seen something that I like at someone else’s house?
Have I seen something that I didn’t like at someone else’s house?
How will this new project affect my entire landscape?
How will this look from my neighbor’s house?
There are some plants that lend themselves to being used to establish screening. Viburnum, upright arborvitae, upright juniper, lilacs, burning bush, and witchazel are a few. Like many things, landscaping has evolved. Small plantings are usually done now, as opposed to the long hedges that were popular in the 1970’s and 1980’s. A newly planted grouping does not usually afford the homeowner complete privacy. Over time, as the plants mature, they fill in and start to grow together.
Sometimes, instead of trying to establish privacy in a situation, a bit of diversion helps. Walking is incredibly popular in this community. If you don’t want people looking at your patio as they walk by, a well placed bed of flowering shrubs and perennial flowers may be just want you need. The idea is to give passersby something to look at instead of what they may or may not be looking at now.
The last thing anyone wants to do is offend their neighbors. When done right, establishing privacy will benefit all parties involved.
Thanks to everyone for their water conservation efforts. I did receive this great tip from Russ Diprizio. He collects the cold water that would usually go down the drain while waiting for the hot water to begin. He prevents about two gallons of water from going down the drain each time he does this. He then uses this water on his grass or plants. If 2000 homes did this for 180 days, we would save and reuse 720,000 gallons of water. Amazing!
Kathleen Carr is the owner of The Growing Scene, Inc., a garden center and landscaping company. She can be reached by calling 815-923-7322 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a gardening question? Please contact her. She will address it in an upcoming column.