British Columbia: Tree privacy for health reasons

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by Stressed, Oct 5, 2018.

  1. Stressed

    Stressed New Member

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    I’ve never sought advice on the internet before.

    I’m really hoping that someone can help us solve our problem. I’d also be willing to hire someone, maybe an arborist, to advise.

    I require a tree or trees to block my view of my neighbours house. He has placed long silver reflective strips on the side of his house to keep woodpeckers away. It’s on the roof line on the side of his house and flashes light into my backyard and windows. My infant daughter has had seizures and is on anti seizure medication. The light is so strong that it gives me a headache and makes me very nervous for her. We didn’t enjoy our backyard at all this summer. It was our first summer at our house. We have asked him nicely and he is insistent on leaving them up. He does not care at all about the problems it is causing us.

    I would like to block our view of this. The property line is twenty feet from our house and five feet from the side of his house. I’d like the tree or trees to be tall enough to eclipse his two story home and I’d like to plant them close to the propert line. I’m from the east coast and I have very little knowledge of how trees grow here.

    This is our first house. Please help! Your input is very appreciated. I’ll try to post a photo of the area.

    Thank you!

    Christine
     
  2. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    I would go talk to City Hall and also consult a lawyer. There are no trees that will grow tall enough, quickly enough to solve your problem. Depending on what legal recourse you may pursue, you might also consider taking your story to a local newspaper or TV reporter.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2018
  3. Stressed

    Stressed New Member

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    Hi, Margot. Thanks for your reply. My daughters seizures have not been identified as light sensitive. I am just worried and uncomfortable with how strong the flashing light is. I've been able to keep her away from the backyard on sunny days. I'm not too worried if she sees the flashing lights for a short time. I really don't want to consult a lawyer or a newspaper. I would hate any attention.
    I would love to block our view of their house. I plan to live in my house for many years and it would be worth it even if the screen took a few years to grow. Does anyone have any suggestions? I am worried that I will choose the wrong tree to plant and have issues with it.
    Thank you!
     
  4. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    I sure do empathize with you dealing with a problem that affects not only you but your little daughter's health. It's hard to understand how your neighbour could be so lacking in compassion.

    There are a number of trees that can be planted as a hedge/screen to block the reflected light although it may take a number of years to do so. The one that first comes to mind is poplar - fast growing, if not particularly desirable. An interesting one I found on the web is:

    Populus tremula ‘Erecta’
    : "This thin cultivar of the Swedish aspen tree is great for slender garden areas and small yards. It’s very cold hardy and has heart-shaped leaves that move in the wind. Though it’s deciduous and looses its leaves in the winter, this columnar tree’s structure is lovely even without its foliage. Though its width is very limited, it can grow up to 40 feet tall. And, it’s hardy all the way down to zone 2."

    A couple of other deciduous options I have found are:

    Acer palmatum ‘Twombly’s Red Sentinel’:
    "Though most Japanese maples are wide spreading, this cultivar boasts very upright growth, making it one of the best trees for small gardens and tight spaces. The foliage is deep red all season long; even the stems are red. ‘Twombly’s Red Sentinel’ maxes out at 15 feet in height and spreads just 6 feet wide. Hardy in zones 5-8."

    Liquidamber styraciflua ‘Slender Silhouette’: "This beautiful variety of sweetgum, grows upwards of 60 feet tall, but its very tight, short branches mean the plant’s spread is a mere 6 to 8 feet, making it a real standout in the landscape. The red fall color is spectacular, and it’s fairly fast growing. Yes, this sweetgum variety also produces spiky seed balls like other sweetgums, but not huge quantities of them. ‘Slender Silhouette’ is also a larval host plant for many different butterflies and moths. It’s a great narrow tree for a small garden! Hardy in zones 5-8."

    You may not find any of these at your local garden centre but often they can be special-ordered.

    You probably don't need me to advise you to plant well within your property line. You neighbour would not likely take kindly to trees in your garden encroaching on his - the falling leaves will be bad enough!
     
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  5. Earth Ox

    Earth Ox Member

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    My city has planted some columnar oak and beech trees. I see that they do not lose all their leaves in winter. If you need something to screen all year round these may be worth researching, too.
     
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  6. Stressed

    Stressed New Member

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    Thanks Margot and Earth Ox. I have been looking around my neighbourhood to see what trees have been used for privacy. Many homes have two story cedar arborvitae. I'm assuming they took thirty years for them to grow that tall. Initially, I had thought a columnar evergreen would be best for privacy. Are there any considerations to take with cedars? Are there any varieties to avoid? Maybe it would be best to plant some arborvitae and some columnar deciduous. My daughter's health is good right now and we are optimistic for her. Thanks again for taking the time to reply!
     
  7. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    @Michael F , these are Gymnosperm questions I hope you might want to help with in the immediately previous posting, but part of a thread that has so much else that I want to keep it in this forum.
     
  8. Earth Ox

    Earth Ox Member

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    One of my neighbours is having his drought dead arborvitae removed this week. I see that there are many hedges with dead ones and lots of cedars in the woods are showing signs of stress or are dead now. My son is losing an old timer on his property. I would only plant that type of tree now if I was planning on faithfully watering them lots every year.
     
  9. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    I don't have specific tree ideas - however, as far as I know, the male woodpeckers LOVE hearing themselves hammering the metal - so on one hand, I guess the neighbor is protecting wood siding by using metal - but then the woodpeckers hammer the metal to make "this is my territory" sounds. Repeatedly. (metal chimney trim for example)

    so the reflective aspect of the metal does not need to be reflective, does it? can't he use galvanized or something painted to match his roof material?
     
  10. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    It sounds as though you would prefer an evergreen hedge rather than deciduous trees - which makes sense for year-round privacy. Georgia Strait makes a good point that the annoying metal strips do not need to be reflective but, since your neighbour hasn't proven to be co-operative, you are wise to look for a solution
    you can control.

    A popular columnar evergreen is Emerald Green Cedar (Thuja occidentalis 'Smaragd'). I found some good information you can read at: View Plant | Great Plant Picks . These trees are widely available especially in spring and grow quickly to about 15 feet before slowing down. Like Thuja plicata, our native red cedar, Thuja occidentalis, must not be allowed to dry out. However, it shouldn't take too much water to keep them healthy during the dry months. If you could install water-wise drip irrigation when the trees are planted, it should not be expensive or wasteful.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2018

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