When you live in town and don’t have the luxury of privacy and space between your neighbors, finding ways to feel more secluded in your own yard can be a challenge. When there isn’t room for large trees or thick shrubs or hedges, knowing how to create the right amount of privacy from close neighbors, it can be difficult to find just the right thing especially when you aren’t a plant and tree expert.
We have just that challenge in our back yard and for the past couple of years I’ve been trying to figure out how best to add in a little privacy between us and our very close neighbors. Dealing with the lack of space was the hardest part so today I’m sharing with you with we came up with.
Our house is on the main street in our small town. If fact, our building is the last building in the downtown business district. The buildings are close together if not connected in some cases in the business district.
On the opposite side is a duplex house that is merely feet from our house. As if being close isn’t bad enough, our properties are all on an angle meaning our garage is partially behind our neighbors house. When our neighbors come out of their back door, they are naturally looking directly down into our yard.
This isn’t the kind of set up that makes you want to enjoy meals on the deck or relax by the fire pit with friends without feeling like the neighbors are right on top of you the entire time.
The boys also pose a concern as they are constantly barking every time they see someone coming out of the neighbor’s house or walking up the yard from the alley.
The hotel side is more of a visual issue than a privacy issue. The back side of the hotel isn’t taken care of and is more of an eyesore that we’d prefer to not have to look at but on the neighbor’s side, their kitchen window is literally just feet from our deck leaving zero privacy. When their kitchen window is open we can hear their conversations inside and so I’m sure the same is true in reverse.
While we don’t have a lot of control over sound, there is something we can do about the visual privacy. While a thick, 20 – 35 foot tree would be awesome, it’s just not feasible between our houses so for months I’ve been researching what we could plant there that would give is the screen we prefer without taking up a lot of space.
I wanted trees or shrubs that are fast growing but that won’t grow much about 15-25 feet at the most. Ideally they wouldn’t even get that tall. We will want our yard to get sunshine and we don’t want to interfere with the lines that run overhead so fast-growing and not super tall are important.
The final primary criteria is that I don’t want anything that is too wide or that spreads out too much. Trees will naturally overhang onto the neighbor’s yard a bit, but I don’t want anything that will grow into ours or the neighbor’s house or that will grow so wide, it will take over our small yard.
While we are still looking at planting at least one smaller tree along that fence we opted for shrub type plants for most of the natural screen.
We planted a Rose of Sharon bush in our yard a few years ago after buying one at a landscape auction. I don’t know plants but these things are like bamboo, they spread their roots and sprout up new shrubs every year. I’ve also learned that they are pretty hardy meaning they can be transplanted and thrive with very little effort. This can be a good thing and a bad thing but I’m embracing what we have and they do look lovely in late summer when they bloom.
The original plant is long gone but I’ve replanted new sprouts and last year planted a few along our fence between us and the close neighbors. They have gone from sprouts just a few inches tall to bushes taller than the fence already.
This year we wanted to add to them with some other options. We settled on a simple hedge plant that won’t get too tall or too wide but will be tall and thick enough to help give us a nice natural screen in the future. It’s hard to be patient while these plants grow but in just the short time since we’ve planted the hedge, we can see growth.
I will update this post with details on the exact plants we have used in the near future but regardless of your geographical location and situation, I suggest researching plants that will live well in your location and that will grow to an appropriate size for your available space.
Now it’s time to start planning mulch beds around our new plantings to help dress things up. What yard projects to you have going on this year?