biwa
Senior Member
Posts: 203
Joined: Sun Aug 13, 2006 8:15 am
Location: Virginia, zone 7

Looking for recommendations for a privacy shield

One of my neighbors is being obnoxious, so I would like to plant a row of trees or bushes blocking their view of my yard. Any recommendations you guys have would be greatly appreciated.

Here's a list of qualities that I might like in a privacy-shield plant (please do not limit your suggestions to only plants with these qualities).
- Five feet tall or taller
- Narrow (so that it does not take up too much space)
- Evergreen
- Produces fruit or nuts that are edible
- Attracts butterflies or hummingbirds
- Nice to look at / pretty

I live in zone 7. The soil is slightly acidic and mostly clay. The area I want to plant in is sunny with some short trees nearby that may provide minimal shade.

cynthia_h
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Location: El Cerrito, CA

I'm sorry; it's a REAL problem to have problem neighbors. (Which was our 17-year-long experience in Berkeley.... :x I once got home from work to find a SWAT team at the apartment building which adjoined our south property line. :shock:)

Sunset's National Garden Book, published only in 1997, lists two pages of "Plants for Hedges and Screens" (pp. 155-156).

Requesting evergreen + edible nuts or berries is self-contradicting, except in the case of citrus, according to the provided list. Unfortunately, citrus trees are not recommended for any of the three Sunset zones in Virginia (31, 32, and 36).

If you can find a copy of the National Garden Book at the library, maybe you can photocopy these two pages and then begin looking for the plant(s) with the most favorable characteristics for your property.

Cynthia H.
USDA Zone 9, Sunset Zone 17

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applestar
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Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

It's a problem alright. :? Let's see...
Do you currently have any kind of fencing along the property line?
How wide of a hedge are you prepared to grow?

I've been thinking along similar lines and researching. So here are some ideas for starters:

I suspect these are for much wider spaces, but here are a couple of websites I've been looking at:
Trucs d'artan – The Woven Hedge
https://www.frenchgardening.com/tech.html?pid=32052735493654
BCTV Handbook Online – Hedging
https://handbooks.btcv.org.uk/handbooks/content/chapter/66

In the first link, there are links to "The Fine Art of Espalier–Part I, II, and III" in the list to the left. You might want to check those out too.
Here is a list of shrubs/trees that are recommended for espalier:
https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/quickref/general/espalier.html
For some reason, this list doesn't mention some fruit trees and berries mentioned elsewhere: Sweet/Pie Cherries, Peaches, Nectarines, Plums (all recommended pruned in FAN shape); Brambles, Currants, Gooseberries (all can take some shade, especially currants and gooseberries). Also, you CAN grow hardy trifoliate orange in espalier. Some varieties have limited juice that is not sweet but can be used sweetened like lemonade and the peel can be candied.

Obviously, the above ideas will need to be tailored to your region, preferably limiting selection to mostly native species for best wildlife value. :D If you decide to go the espalier fruit tree/shrub route, I recommend you look into permaculture and plant guilds, and plant insectary, nutrient accumulator, etc. plants in the understory.

And for sake of completeness, this is what I'm planning for one part of my back property line, although these are not plants, and I don't know if you have kids. :wink:
https://www.traversewall.com/products/playground_panels2.shtml
https://www.xcelsiorsystems.com/1190.xml
https://verticalworldwalls.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12&Itemid=27
https://www.rockwerxclimbing.com/3486.xml
https://www.tothetopwalls.com/childrenswalls.html

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applestar
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Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

I was searching for some more references to "espalier" here in HGG forum and found this
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=6956
LOVE the idea! I think I might try adapting this next year along one side of the patio where I want to replace a ho-hum privacy wall. :mrgreen:

Here's another link describing the biodiversity planted in his walls.
https://www.frenchgardening.com/visitez.html?pid=1140712820340395

I keep finding more references. OK after this I'll start another thread:
Patrick Blanc, Vertical Garden interview in Paris
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63D2UkkTtBQ

biwa
Senior Member
Posts: 203
Joined: Sun Aug 13, 2006 8:15 am
Location: Virginia, zone 7

That vertical garden thing is very beautiful. It looks ridiculously easy to do too. All you need is a wall with foam on it to hold the roots and the water, and a pump to move the water.

I think I would like to try that espalier idea. If I understand it correctly, it's mostly pruning to make a tree wall-shaped. Could I take that idea a little further and plant a bunch of saplings in a line and then weave their trunks together? I've got 2 maple trees that drop hundreds of seeds every spring. I bet I could collect all the seeds and plant them in a line and I would be able to grow a pretty fence.

I wonder if maple would be appropriate for such a use. If not, I could try mulberry trees, cherry trees, or rose of sharon, to name a few options. Those would be harder for me though, because I would have to raise them from cuttings since I don't have the seeds.

cynthia_h
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Location: El Cerrito, CA

biwa, you have just described to a "T" a "Belgian Fence" espalier. I'll see whether I can find an on-line picture to do it justice.

Cynthia

cynthia_h
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Location: El Cerrito, CA

Success! :D

Here's an article from Taunton Press's "Fine Gardening" magazine with a photograph of the author's Belgian fence AND a schematic diagram. Two perspectives are shown, one each in the photo and the illo.

You'll see why I was so excited about your description:

https://www.taunton.com/finegardening/how-to/articles/espalier.aspx

Good luck and happy gardening!

Cynthia

biwa
Senior Member
Posts: 203
Joined: Sun Aug 13, 2006 8:15 am
Location: Virginia, zone 7

Thanks for the help Cynthia! Yes, its the Belgian Fence I would like to make. The author of that website seems to prefer pear trees for espaliers. I'm not sure if I like pears, but if they're tried and tested maybe I'll give them a shot.

I noticed most of the espaliers on that site contain only 1 tree, but the Belgian fence contains many. Do the trees have to have similar DNA to get along well with each other? For example, do they all have to be cuttings from the same tree, or could I get different pear trees? I bet it would look really neat if I made the fence out of pink and white flowering cherry trees and alternated them so the fence has a plaid pattern in the spring. Hopefully they would flower simultaneously.

cynthia_h
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Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 11:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

They can be different varieties; it's just that the majority of the gardeners who espalier their plants like the "uniform" appearance.

I think a mixed planting of pears, cherries, etc., would look terrific. Just check and be sure that the varieties you want to espalier are successful in your gardening zone.

The one piece of advice I know from reading about espaliering is that you need to plant the trees based on their mature size. They'll look very lost and far apart while young...but I think the pear photo was of 4-year-old trees, and they looked great!

Cynthia

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applestar
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Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Cynthia, that is an excellent article! I thank you too. :D

I planted a Juneberry, Pristine apple, Magness pear, and Arkansas Black apple for my proposed espalier. (I WAS going to put another Juneberry on the other end, but they sent me a different selection of Amelanchier that wasn't going to work as well) I WAS thinking Belgian Fence, but since it's growing against a picket fence, I might go with Candelabra. 8) Haven't quite made up my mind yet.

(I have an Enterprise -- couldn't resist the name -- apple to pollinate the Ark Black, wild crabapples to pollinate the Pristine, and Callery pears in the neighborhood which are supposed to be able to pollinate the Magness pear)

I'm planning another double-fan of Emperor Francis and White Gold sweet cherries along the vege garden where I can keep better watch over them. Hopefully, the yellow cherries won't be as attractive to birds. :wink:

Hopefully, I'm not being too ambitious. :oops:

Can't wait to hear what you decide Biwa! :D

Eliza Jo
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Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 10:42 pm
Location: Ohio & North Carolina

Other ideas for privacy

I'm excited about the ideas here as I also needed a way to block a neighbor.

Some cheaper and quicker methods I found involved either the Chinese Elm (not quick enough for me) and shaping a bunch of close-growing forsythia.

Previous owners of my last house had done the later against the ends of the screened-in porch for privacy. No leaves in winter, but the remaining wood does a pretty good job. They used string and bent nails against the wood parts of the porch, planting where the screens were.

I was planning to use that method against trellis. Still not growing as quickly as I would like, they are growing much faster than the Chinese Elm (planted along the back against the threat of a field being turned into a subdivision, a more serious and "taller" problem than the next door neighbor.)

Good luck, and please let us know what you do and how things go from time to time.
Diane

Di Eats the Elephant
https://luvs2zumba.blogspot.com

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