Advice for creating privacy screen with plants

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by koroni, Apr 9, 2017.

  1. koroni

    koroni New Member

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    Hi all, thanks for reading. Am a complete novice when it comes to anything green and looking to increase the privacy of my patio as it's next to a walkway and there are current gaps it in from dying cedar trees where you can see into my unit. There is also a mix of other plants in there, that I cannot identify either than 1 single rose bush. if anyone knows what the other green bush is, i kinda like that one, so would be helpful to know!

    Option 1) Try to revive current trees if possible, plant a new cedar tree in the empty spot (circled in photo) and leave the rest as it
    Option 2) take everything out and replant all new cedar trees
    Option 3) take everything out and replant with new plants that will provide privacy screening.

    I am not home very often to be able to maintain a lot of plant life, so am mostly just looking for something that will provide 4-5 feet ish of privacy, will look decent and not be too much maintenance. The planter boxes are south facing and get lots of sun when it's nice out, but again, being in Vancouver, can't guarantee the sun.

    I've had these suggestions from friends if I go a route other than cedar:

    rose of sharon
    california lilac
    yew
    ninebark
    butterfly bush

    Thanks very much!
     

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  2. chimera

    chimera Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Rose of sharon, ninebark, and butterfly bush are not evergreen, so the loss of privacy during winter.
     
  3. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    The evergreen shrub you have is a cherry-laurel. It looks like Otto Luyken laurel (not a laurel, an evergreen cherry species.) There are quite a few choices in evergreen shrubs for Vancouver. I would probably put in a solid row of the same plant. Cherry laurel is used because it is easy and quickly fills the space. It is invasive though. You might look at rhododendrons, camellia, bamboo, aucuba, euonymus, podocarpus. California lilac is evergreen, but can be a bit tender-not the best in such a planting. Visit a few nurseries and see what you like.
     
  4. rhodomontade

    rhodomontade Active Member

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    A few comments, questions and suggestions. You mentioned you face South but how tall is that building on the left of the images? I'm presuming that is to the South... Is there limited direct sunlight? If you plant rhodos or camellia, there's a good chance all your blooms will be on the outside. And it appears you're in a high density area that may have some wind shear which would put paid to blooms, especially this time of year when both are coming out. I agree with Eric that the best way to go would be a single choice of hedge plant, simply from a maintenance point of view. I'd pick another cupressus as those you have are planted a wee bit close and are already 'leggy'. If you find a more columnar one, that might be the way to go. Leylandii is out there at the moment and that's a proven hedge 'cedar'. California lilac will grow in a hurry once established and does provide a fairly dense cover. Ditto laurel, though like rhodies, without careful pruning, you'll end up with little privacy. I have some columnar yews that are hanging in despite major wind problems. Hicks or a variant are good. So T. baccata columnar types or Irish yew which are being sold at the moment. Also, how about pittosporum as that is fairly dense and fast growing? Don't go with box as it's very slow and won't reach a decent height in most peoples' lifetime! Cherry laurel is good if you have width though it appears you have fairly narrow boxes (which I also have so I know there are limitations). Ditto viburnum, though there are a very few evergreen ones out there and they are better in temperate climates. Regards
     
  5. koroni

    koroni New Member

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    Thanks everyone, your replies are much appreciated!

    The building in the left of the images is brand new and yet to be complete, I think it will be 3-4 stories on completion, but will be “tiered” so there should be some full sun still coming in, but hard to say what the final building will look like. I have only been living in this unit for 7 months now, so not sure on too many of the details.
    I don't think there is much wind in the area, perhaps a few overly windy days a season I would say.

    Am debating between an evergreen that flowers or one that doesnt. Would love the look of flowers, but am also worried about attracting too many bees/insects as while the planter boxes are long in length my actual patio space is a bit limited so would want to be able to sit right by the plants or potentially BBQ without a swarm of insects around.
     
  6. chimera

    chimera Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Maybe the upright Camellia sasanqua could work for a shrub flowering during winter or early spring. Most take pruning well and the few bees or hummingbirds may not be a problem.
    California lilacs draw honeybees and BBQs draw wasps if you're doing meat or fish, guess it's the blood attracting them.
     
  7. rhodomontade

    rhodomontade Active Member

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    If you're at all concerned about bees and wasps, then your choice is limited. And your location suggests any blooms will face away so you may suffer further restrictions. I'd look for taxus or cupressus and if you have some space for potted flowering plants on another bench or table, go with that. They can take some wind and are sun-shade tolerant. Best to dig up what you have, 'refresh' the soil and plant anew. And see what the neighbours have, that's a good guide. Cheers.
     
  8. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Contributor

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    be sure to read and understand your strata rules (if you're in a strata) === hasn't strata vs planting and deck decor and so forth been in news recently (one too many planters or similar issue I think)

    weight limit on building structure? watering?

    avoid any plants that drop fruit/berries /// messy slippery leaves/needles /// thorns /// need frequent shearing // release dusty pollen all over the place (yellow powder)
    if you have kids and/or pets - make sure non-toxic (I know of a family medical center that planted expensive shrubs with toxic red berries - ouch!)

    start with plants that are meant to be compact --- not ones that require constant (frequent) shearing and pruning to stay small size.

    *would there be an attractive compact leafy bamboo? (what is NAME of that bamboo nursery in greater Vancouver? Is it Bamboo World out in the Valley?) --- bamboo certainly implies a modern-simple design look - so that might (or not) agree with your style.
    *some sort of taller boxwood? http://www.monrovia.com/plant-catalog/plants/408/green-tower-boxwood/
    *would nandina work? (heavenly bamboo) - but then it has berries, right?
    *euonymus? I have a golden one that is pretty darn forgiving. Poor thing.

    if you start with a taller, narrow row of containers (strata rules?) - does that help (look at Pinterest etc)

    I like the boxwood and other plantings in those little "row townhouses" along Beatty St between Smithe and Nelson --- planting combined with hardscape. Lots of good compact boundary-making planting examples out at those townhouses in the former parking lots at UBC too (near the old barn coffee shop)

    doesn't the Sutton PLace hotel downtown have some tightly massed screen boxwood too? (easily visible out front of buildings) (or that waterfall garden on the north side Christ Church Cathedral - Burrard St)

    then again - I saw this product recently at a local Home Hardware store - now there's low maintenance!
    Expandable Trellis – Naturae Decor
     
  9. koroni

    koroni New Member

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    Technically, I think this should fall to strata to maintain as i think it would be "common property" that just borders my patio, but they've done a poor job of it obviously. It's my understanding they don't want to deal with the resources of maintaining it so let the owners do it. The neighbors have a mismatch of stuff, only 2 other townhouses with similar patios that have those planter boxes, one of them is on a more private side and doesn't need a privacy screen so turned his into a vegetable patch with tomatoes etc. (it doesn't bother me but am so surprised strata allowed this! it does look a bit odd), the other neighbour is only there a couple weekends a month so I don't think she cares to fix hers, but it's pretty much in the same shape as mine (cedars in poor shape).

    There is a hose right by the planters so should make watering easy, restrictions would only be according to the City of Vancouver depending on how hot the summer gets

    Thank you for all the tips, I will try to make it to some garden shops/nurseries this weekend to see what the suggestions look like.

    Expandable trellis - love the idea of it! not sure if would look cheap. might try to see if i can find some to look at in person.
     
  10. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Contributor

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    hello original poster - I was thinking about this further - and observing what's doing nicely and low maintenance on the BC south coast right now - and how about Clematis armandii (evergreen clematis)

    granted, it blooms now - and sometimes a bit later - but your whole point is a privacy screen that's easy

    years ago - we had one of these on a lattice panel that had strong supports (like what are readily avail at the building supply store) - approx 4 x 6 feet. It screened a bedroom window for 4-season privacy (the panel was approx 2 feet away from the exterior of the cabin)

    it took a bit of training - as clematis are by nature, roots in the shady soil, and then love to scramble up as high as can be for "faces in the sun"

    have a look around - more likely out in Kerrisdale etc - as I can't think of any examples downtown Vcvr. Maybe some of those established condos around False Creek south shore (the 1970's and 80's developments) ....

    i like this plant as it is trimmable, and is less invasive in some respects than --- the dreaded ivy.

    here is some info off a random website - Google found it
    Clematis armandii (Evergreen Clematis) Zones: 7 – 9. Large, leathery green leaves and with lots of fragrant, star-like white blooms in brilliant clusters. Fast coverage for patios, trellises, arbors and great privacy screen. Spring bloomer. To 25 feet. Part sun.
     
  11. Gordwst

    Gordwst New Member

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    If its a dense short evergreen privacy hedge without much room , Rufa bamboo . Easy to grow , dense clumping evergreen . Perfect for the a box planter you have pictured. Lots of options - boxwood, cedar and others , depending on how much trimming your ok with doing to keep it short . What i named is very easy to grow
     

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