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Thuja Green Giant-Create Privacy-Hide Unsightly Views- ARTICLE

Thuja Green Giant-Create Privacy-Hide Unsightly Views- ARTICLE

 If, as poet Robert Frost wrote, “Good fences make good neighbors” then good living fences make even better neighbors. Stately evergreens at the edge of a property will hide an unpleasant view, afford much wanted privacy, and if tightly planted, diminish noise from highways, yapping dogs, or raucous music.  Your neighbors can also ‘borrow’ the view of your living fence. Plant stately Thuja ‘Green Giant’ (Arborvitae) for a fast-growing privacy hedge of rich, forest green that also smells delicious. Once established ‘Green Giant’ is as close to a no-maintenance plant as they come. It keeps its characteristic pyramidal shape without shearing but can be trimmed yearly if you want a lower hedge.

A Star is Born

This evergreen tree received the prestigious Gold Medal Plant Award from the Penna. Horticultural Society in 1998 and is designated an Elite plant by the US National Arboretum.

Tip: Save yourself potential disputes by always planting trees far enough away from the property line so fully grown branches won’t encroach across your neighbors’ border, five to eight feet from the dividing line in the case of ‘Green Giant’

Tip: For extra privacy or noise abatement, plant Thuja not in one straight line but a double row alternating the placement as in this diagram, planting 10-15 feet apart in both directions. It’s tempting to go closer to get very fast coverage, but since these Thujas can grow three feet a year try to be a little more patient. You’ll be rewarded because mature plants will be spaced perfectly:


X         X         X         X         X         X         X

      X          X          X        X         X         X         X         X


In an alternative design, plant Thuja (X) at the back border and a shorter shrub in front with contrasting color leaves like Berberis  This placement affords more visual interest than a straight-line hedge of one plant:


            X         X         X         X         X         X         X         X         X        

                     O        O          O       O          O        O          O         O


Maybe your problem isn’t the neighbors, but an unsightly fence, air-conditioning unit, or well head, septic tank covers or ugly tool shed in full view of the front path or terrace. Here are some suggestions to turn an unsightly necessity into an asset.


•Position a cluster of Buxus (Boxwood), ‘Annabelle’ Hydrangea or grasses like Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ to soften the look of an air conditioning unit, wellhead. You can also harvest a bunch of these grasses to stack against an existing structure for decoration. Rhamnus ‘Fine Line’ (Buckthorn) with its fernlike foliage is a well-behaved shrub for privacy or screening with nice autumn color. Place any of these great garden plants in-ground or in very tough situations, they’re all happy growing in containers.

• Plant a border of ‘Knock Out’ or ‘Pink Double Knock Out’ roses by a path to keep people on the straight and narrow. They’ll bloom all summer in an easy-care, disease-free fashion, then display colorful hips in the fall. The small rose prickles encourage people to mind their manners and not cut through where you don’t want them to wander. Avid rose growers of the American Rose Society have bestowed on ‘Knock Out’ their Members Choice Award. Go, ‘Knock Out’!

 • Use several clematis at the base of an existing fence in a mutually beneficial pairing. The clematis will have the instant support that they need for climbing, and the fence will recede visually as the vines mature. I now have seven climbing on a steel security fence on the eighteenth floor roof garden that I tend for my condo building. The vines diminish the prison-like appearance of the mandatory eight-foot bars.

Written by Ellen Spector Platt - www.ellenspectorplatt.com