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Create Privacy-Hide Unsightly Views with Thuja Green Giant

Create Privacy-Hide Unsightly Views with Thuja Green Giant

  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 Pennsylvania 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 -- 5-8 feet from the dividing line in the case of ‘Green Giant’

Tip: For extra privacy or noise abatement, plant Thuja in a double row rather than straight line, 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 colored 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, well head, septic tank cover 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, or well head. You can also harvest a bunch of these grasses to stack against an existing structure for decoration. Rhamnus ‘Fine Line’ (Buckthorn) with its fern-like foliage, and nice autumn color is a well behaved shrub for privacy, or screening. Plant any of these great garden plants in-ground; or, if you have a very tough situation, many of them are happy growing in containers. (We note on every plant page whether a plant is suitable for container planting).

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

 • 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