PLANTING FOR PRIVACY
By Trey Pitsenberger, co-owner
The Foothills are
a wonderful place to live. That’s why Placer
County is the fastest growing area in the State of
California according to recent studies. With so many
people moving here, privacy issues are becoming more
and more prevalent. Bright lights at night and loud
noises can ruin what was once your peaceful retreat.
One of the most common requests heard in garden centers
is for plants that screen out visual and noise pollution.
When planning for privacy determine exactly
what it is you are trying to shield or block with plants.
If the potential intrusion is not yet there we can use
slower growing plants. If you have a current problem,
then faster growing plants may need to be utilized. We
may still me able to use slower growing plants, but we
might want to buy them in larger size containers for
quicker effect. Some faster growing plants, such as Leyland
Cypress (Cuppressus leylandi) are short lived in our
area, and should not be used for long lasting screening.
One solution is to interspace the faster growers with
the slower growers, with the knowledge that the faster
growers will be removed later, to make way for the slower
growing plants, when they have reached a desirable size.
Determine the sunlight conditions of the
planting area so the appropriate plants may be chosen.
Planting oleander, a popular screening plant, in the
shade is a mistake. Shade area plants tend to be slower
growing. This is where the extra expense of buying larger
sized plants pays off. Yew Pine (Podocarpus), Mexican
Orange (Choisia ternata), Rhododendron, Camellia, etc.
are examples of shade lovers that should be purchased
in 5 gallon or larger sizes for quicker results. You
gain at least a year in growth when purchasing a five-gallon
over a one gallon. Time is important when it comes to
screening unsightly views!
should be taken into account. Here in the Foothills
deer can be a nuisance. If you have purchased a new
home and have not seen deer in your yard, take a trip
around the neighborhood and talk to neighbors. If deer
are in the general area, but not in your yard, they
will invite themselves to breakfast as soon as you
put in a tasty screen of Photinia (Photinia fraseri).
Photinia is a very popular screen with its bright red
new growth. It is not recommended, however, in deer
country. Pineapple guava (Feijoa sellowana), Holly
(Ilex species), ‘Emerald green’ Thuja,
or Carolina Cherry Laurel (Prunus caroliniana) might
be better choices, with much higher deer resistance.
Noise can be hard to mask with plants alone.
Berms of earth are often created to deflect noise up
and away from living areas. Berms can then be planted
with shrubs or trees that also deflect and absorb noise.
This solution is easier when the noise comes from straight
across, or from below, as the size of the berm can be
smaller. Fences, planted with shrubs or vines can also
help mask noise.
One of my favorite
solutions is to use fountains or waterfalls. Splashing
drown out other noises, but diverts your attention from
the other less desirable noises.
You can create a wonderful oasis of calm
right in town with well-placed screening plants, and
a soothing waterfall or fountain.
Since you may be planting right on the
property line, it is best to talk with you neighbor about
any fences, berms or plants you plan to use. Especially
with the larger shrubs or trees that may one day hang
over into the neighbors yard, see if you both can agree
on what to do. You might find they also prefer some privacy
and would work with you on a common solution. If this
is not possible lets chose plants that will grow narrower,
or place them further from the property line to avoid
Privacy issues are in the news all the
time. Many have solutions yet to be thought of. With
landscaping, however, we can develop elegant and simple
solutions that keep the peace, and increase the value
of all the properties involved.