When it comes to landscaping property lines for our customers, we’ve discovered many of our clients are looking to create privacy using a natural green border between their house and their neighbors. Last month we wrote about using bushes and hedges as a green privacy screen. In the past, privacy screens were confined to a select group of bushes, but today, you have a wealth of selections to choose from including trees, flowering plants and tall grasses. Many of these provide food and shelter for butterflies, bees, and birds.
Trees Provide Privacy and a Windbreak
In addition to bushes, a popular plant choice in landscaping property lines is trees. Trees are a great choice because not only do they offer privacy, they also form a windbreak. So if you are living in a windy area, you may want to consider planting one of the trees we are suggesting below.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there are a number of plants that grow as bushes in most of the country, but can grow into big trees here in Southwest Florida due to our year round growing climate. Wax Myrtle is one such plant in that it grows well as a shrub, but with proper trimming it can grow as high as 40 feet high, according to the University of Florida IFAS Extension. That’s why it makes a good privacy screen. It’s a great tree for those of you who love birds and butterflies too as it has berries that attract them.
The American Arborvitae tree is known under several different names, including Eastern white cedar as well as thuja occidentalis. While the tree can grow very tall (40-60 feet), homeowners might prefer the large selection of ornamental arborvitae, including the techny American arborvitae that’s better for hedges. The latter variety can grow about 15 feet high, and it maintains its color during winter. These trees are low maintenance, do great in the Florida climate and spread out to some 15ft across as well, making it a great privacy barrier.
If you are looking for privacy in a hurry, your best bet is the willow hybrid tree, thought to be the fastest growing tree for privacy and shade. This plant can grow more than 10 feet in a year, topping out at 35-40 feet. They’re also hardy and they grow well in a variety of soil types. While they aren’t evergreen in winter, they’ll have enough on their branches to maintain your privacy.
Flowering Plants Provide Privacy Amidst a Profusion of Color
If you have a chain link fence in your yard, and are looking to use it to create a privacy barrier, there are many different types of flowering vines that will quickly cover the ugly chain link, and provide you and the birds and bees in your yard with beautiful blooms.
Passionflower vine will cover a chain link fence in a frighteningly fast period of time. The flowers are beautiful and alien-looking, but the bees and butterflies love it. One thing to keep in mind with Passionflower and most vines, is that you must stay on top of pruning it back, or having us come prune it for you. Because if you let it get overgrown, it will choke out or smother nearby plants.
Bougainvillea is another beautiful flowering plant, that will either rapidly vine itself up and around fences, trellises and even your garage, or it can grow into more of a bush. One thing to note about it is that it is covered in thorns, so it makes a good security barrier, but is difficult to prune.
Ornamental Grasses Provide Low-Maintenance Privacy
Often overlooked, tall ornamental grasses can provide a great privacy screen on the borders of your property. They grow quickly and best of all, they are low maintenance. Ornamental grasses are either clumping or creeping. Clump-forming grasses, also called bunch grasses, grow in compact tufts with their bases increasing in size gradually. Creeping grasses, also called running or spreading grasses come in a wide variety of colors and sizes. Don’t be fooled by the name, many ornamental grasses come in different colors and textures and have beautiful flowers.
Two of the most popular ornamental grasses here in Southwest Florida are Fountain Grass and Muhly Grass, because they come in white, purple or a gorgeous pink color. The Princess Caroline Fountain Grass has wide deep burgundy leaves that look bold and beautiful as a border.
Most people don’t know this, but bamboo is also a member of the grass family and is quite often used as a fantastic privacy screen for property lines. However, a number of types of bamboo are invasive, so you must be careful about what is planted. Golden Bamboo reaches a height of about 5 feet and has variegated golden and green leaves, making it a strikingly exotic hedge. It tolerates both sun and partial shade.