Wednesday, January 8, 2014

They Say Patience is a Virtue...

back garden
Well...it's the New Year and all that jazz...and you know what that means...Garden Changes, y'all! Every year, even in the midst of enjoying the garden, I have a keenly critical eye for things that aren't working...or, at least, aren't working FOR ME!

summer backyard
One of the spots in my garden that is a perennial source of frustration is the back yard. Tricky light has forced me to admit that the whole area needs a good re-tooling this year (more on that in a future post). The hot-button subject for today, however, is this total lack of privacy. In the shot above, it looks quite nice...lush, colorful and cozy. However, if you look up...

summer backyard with neighors
...ACK! Yup...the neighbors house...just a few feet from the fence (seriously, maybe 4 feet away). Their windows look RIGHT DOWN INTO OUR BACK YARD. When we first moved in, there was a nice family that lived in the house...and we didn't mind so much that they could see us...we'd even talk to them through the windows if we happened to be in the backyard. Now, however, it's being rented to a rotating cast of college students...and judging by the noise (and the fact that I rarely see the same person twice), I'm guessing there are between 6-78 people in the house at any one time. Oh...and they have a "band"...yeah.

summer backyard with neighors copy
Here, I've labeled each window. The kitchen window is the source of 90% of my anxiety. There is, quite literally, ALWAYS someone in the kitchen...usually more than one. There are so many people in the house that at least a few of them are always awake. Also, since none of them have jobs, they are home all day long, every day.

damn bamboo
Now, as much as the previous few paragraphs would seem to contradict this, the point of this post isn't just that I needed to vent about the people next door (ok, it is a little). It's trying to find a way to achieve a little bit of privacy! Two years ago, I planted a clumping Bamboo (Fargesia rufa, I believe) in a stock tank, hoping that it would eventually get tall enough to screen out the neighbors, especially the kitchen window. However, after two full years, it really hasn't grown much at all...at least not vertically.

backyard with bamboo
See...this is what I had it mind...I knew it wouldn't happen overnight...but going on year three, I thought the stupid Bamboo would at least be as tall as the fence by now! And here's where you beautiful readers come in...help me! I'm inclined to wait one more year to see if the Bamboo takes off this year...but...if it hasn't made any appreciable progress by this fall, I'm wondering what you'd do for privacy?

backyard japanese maple
I've been considering a small tree...maybe a Witch Hazel or (as above) a small, upright Japanese Maple or Vine Maple. It can't be TOO big, or it will block too much light from the rest of the garden (and light is all to precious in my garden). That being said, I also prefer deciduous over evergreen trees/shrubs. Of course, any extra seasonal interest (flowers, good fall color, interesting bark) are a bonus!

summer backyard trellis
I've also considered putting up a tall framework trellis, perhaps 10' lengths of rebar or something else, just behind the fence as a support for the existing Parthenoccisus vine to eventually grow up onto...but I fear that by the time I sink 2' of the rebar lengths into the ground, the tops will only extend an additional 2' above the fence...which wouldn't really help the situation. I could use taller lengths of Bamboo...but I fear that eventually they'll rot and break down.

Anyway...what do you think...do any of those ideas sound feasible. Would you give the Bamboo even more time...or would you replace it...and if so, with what. Either way, thanks for listening to me gripe about it :-)

94 comments:

  1. Won't deciduous plants limit the screening value for a portion of the year? In the past, I've used both Grewia and Pittosporum tenuifolium to screen out neighbors but, off-hand, I don't know how either work in your climate. I'm surprised that the bamboo hasn't grown more quickly. Good luck!

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  2. I would give the bamboo one more year. I wouldn't plant a witch hazel, they seem to grow very slowly, and finding one tall enough to screen the area from the start would be way expensive. I don't think a vine maple would get tall enough. Surely there must be a way to rig a trellis that would be tall enough? If you did, this would be a great spot for the clematis that is overtaking the area directly opposite in your back yard, the one with the yellow flowers that Loree is so jealous of.

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  3. If you bought a tree, would it be a sapling or a more mature (and more expensive) tree? If it's the former, you'll have to wait another few years for it to really fill in. Also, as Kris Peterson mentioned, if you intend to use the backyard beyond the summer, you may need to consider how well or not a deciduous tree would screen.

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  4. I'd give the bamboo another year except you need a solution for enjoying the garden next summer. Maybe a temporary trellis raised up in the same stock tank with a fast growing annual vine or a giant umbrella angled at the offending window which can be closed when not in use to let the sun shine in. I really like the bamboo best.

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  5. An umbrella as Shirley suggested looks like a great idea.

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  6. Hi Scott,
    How frustrating! I'd absolutely hate having that window there.. I can completely understand why you want to screen it - and who wouldn't!!!
    A denser trellis would do a better job covering the view quickly than one with large squares... But I do also like the bamboo idea and it's a tough one, because you won't really want to waste another year hoping it grows, if it then doesn't. Perhaps short-term a large umbrella is the easiest way to go, or you can buy nice sail awnings for gardens - in the UK at least - but they are more permanent than an umbrella which can be closed as well as casting more shadow. (mind, I might also be worried about students throwing things on it when drunk)
    I'm guessing you wouldn't really want a pergola in that area either? It could be a nice, romantic little corner with various climbers on... but again, a shade issue.

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  7. So many options to something that has a sense of urgency to it (privacy, quick!). Fargesia Urga doesn't get very tall and tends to spread out first before achieving any height. Best bet is one called Fargesia angustissima which gets tall very quick and yet has a very small footprint, very tight clumping.

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  8. I agree the 'Rufa' has to go. After 7 years in ground, I have one that is almost 6' tall now. It will never do what you want. Fargesia robusta might be a better choice, but I don't know for certain because it doesn't like my winters nor my summers. Pseudosasa japonica (Arrow bamboo) could be a good choice for a stock tank or other large planter. ('Rufa' is a great plant though -- don't throw it away!)

    I really like the bamboo mockup in that one photo -- how can you even consider other options after seeing that one? :)

    p.s. I love that they have a band. Sorry!

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  9. Jenni @ RainyDayGardenerJanuary 8, 2014 at 6:56 PM

    Great discussion going on here regarding this screen problem. Look, I'm in the camp of doing something this season, for privacy and peace of mind. I like the screen idea. The problem with anything that grows too fast is that it's like to just keep on going. In Holland, I saw very clever screening done using espalier trees. I can try to research what type of tree it was. It was young, but with a tall base, perfect for what you are seeking.

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  10. I do like the tree idea, especially the Japanese Maple, although you would wait much longer than the bamboo for it to make your screen. It adds a bit of structure and a different form to the garden. But in your climate, you probably want a year-round screen. I thought Bamboo was a fast grower? Your climate is much different than here for me to make a suggestion. I screened my neighbors with fast growing Thuja occidentalis 'Emerald'. There kitchen window looks directly into mine. I needed a fast growing, dense screen.

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  11. What a problem, and a subject that is of much interest to me as my beloved elderly and very quiet neighbour died, and whoever eventually buys her house will have a back door and two garages very close to my bedroom window. I am thinking of building (having someone build for me) a shed between my bedroom window and her paved parking area. I even think of trying to buy the house!! I'd hate to have those windows looking down, as you do. My former garden in Seattle, which used to be private, is now surrounded by tall modern houses and the garden's character must have been very changed.

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  12. I'll make you a deal on some nice big mature privet that you can just haul right over there and plant...free even...

    Seriously though I feel your pain, or at least I will when we remove the privet as we too will have windows where we used to have privacy. At least in our case it's just rich bachelor, his teenage daughter and various lovely ladies in a revolving door type pattern. I a bit easier to take than loud students. I'll be reading the comments on this post with interest to see what ideas I can steal.

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  13. I think you picked the wrong bamboo. it says here: Fargesia rufa - is a hardy evergreen bamboo. It is best planted
    in moist, damp soil, and grows to an ultimate height of 1.6m - 2.5m in
    10 - 20 years. I'd still go with a bamboo and choose either the black variety (might also be a bit slow for what you want or the yellow stemmed variety which grows quickly and is most attractive.

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  14. As several others have mentioned, Fargesia rufa will not provide the screening you need. It only gets about 6 feet tall and does so slowly. It never would have provided the screening you're looking for. But keep it for another spot! It's still a great plant. Most Fargesia also have an arching, fountain-like growth habit, not the upright habit you want for a screen. Someone mentioned Fargesia angustissima for it's more upright habit, however it can also be slow to establish. Since you have that stock tank, don't limit yourself to clumping bamboos. The only reason not to grow running bamboo is if you have no way to contain it. There is a much wider variety of running bamboo and most should reach greater heights faster than the clumpers and be more upright in habit. They won't escape the stock tank and will not be as large as they would be if grown in open ground so you might want to look for something that is supposed to grow a bit taller than what you think you need. Bamboo in general takes a couple years to take off after transplanting, so if you go that route, or choose a tree, which will also take time, you might want to try some of the temporary screening ideas mentioned here as well.

    Most importantly, whatever you decide, do your research. If you still want to try bamboo, here's a great resource, and they'd probably be happy to answer questions and help you find the best bamboo for your situation: http://www.bamboogarden.com

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  15. Travelling to the west coast, I was always impressed with how quickly you folks could grow tropical palms/banana-esque plants - those honking big leaves would do two things - make it a focal point and hide the window. You've got lots of little leaves - find something with nice big ones. Think feature rather than screen for the house-of-evils and you'll have your solution before you know it. Barbarapc

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  16. I have seen fences made taller by extending the poles and adding a trellis on top. Then you can grow a vine that will provide screening.

    I have bamboo in my garden but it was planted 9 years before we bought the house and they work really well for screening (I wish I knew the types, but have no labels for them). If you have the right bamboo stick to it. I believe that to grow well it needs lots of water and lots of nitrogen, and probably it needs to be in the ground. The clump next to my compost bin is 4 times as big and beautiful that the one away from it, I believe it has to do with roots having grown under the compost bin.

    I remember seeing a site that had a list of fast growing trees, but can't remember it.

    Figs can grow pretty fast, and they are beautiful plants that can be grown as espalier.

    Good luck and keep us posted.

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  17. my go-to screening tree is the Cornelian cherry. It is small. It grows quickly. It has no pests. It is a pale yellow haze of beautifulness very early in the spring (first to bloom in my garden in Vermont). Underplant with snowdrops and early crocus. It has sturdy pretty green leaves in the summer. In the fall it has red cherries of a good size that do NOT fall off the tree. If it likes where it is, the leaves will turn burgundy in the fall. If the leaves don't turn burgundy, they DO stay a good sturdy green late into the season. This tree is reliable, sturdy and very beautiful .... and small.

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  18. Scott--I cast another vote for Fargesia robusta, especially the clone 'Green Screen'.

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  19. Have you been to Bamboo Craftsman? They're in NoPo and they have lots of TALL varieties in stock. You could get instant privacy. Could Ricki create a custom fabric screen for you? You could take a belt and suspenders approach and do both.

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  20. I have huge tubs of tall bamboo 'Phyllostachys aurea' for you !

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  21. I'd use small trees with light foliage, something like Sunburst honey locust. They let quite a lot of light through their canopies and they screen well. You can also prune them up higher to screen at the level of the windows. A fairly common tree, yes, but easy to find and practical. Or maybe your native Vine maple?

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  22. I laughed out loud at your description of your neighbors. So sorry. But so funny the way you wrote it. How tall do you need the screening? Would a 7' 'Fine Line' buckthorn (Rhamnus) in a raised stock tank do the job? 2-3' wide, grows 5-7' tall but would be on the large side for you. Check out info on Monrovia's site. Fast growing, doesn't set seed, deciduous, interesting foliage, narrow.

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  23. Wow, Scott you've got some amazing comments below. I don't think I can contribute anything but I'm going to stand back, watch and learn. I'm sure you'll make the right decision. I feel for you with the neighbor issues.

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  24. Have you considered a trellis that runs parellel to the top of the fence. It can be designed to look great year round, you can grow a deciduous vine through it for added privacy during the spring and summer or even hang some potted plants or baskets on them for privacy. Grasses in hanging baskets!! =P

    I dig the idea of columnar trees especially to mask the living room area. Some trees that come to mind that could work there is Parrotia 'Vanessa', Quercus palustris Green PIllar or even a slow growing Stewartia pseudocamellia.

    Use the same tree to conceal the bathroom.

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  25. One solution to the rebar plan is to drive metal pipe into the ground as far as you need to for stability, then insert the rebar into the pipe. Hops grow very fast and are quite lovely, especially the golden ones. They also seem like a nice fit for your garden.

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  26. We planted the Fargesia robusta 'Campbell' type for exactly this reason. It's narrow and as upright as Fargesia species get (the downside of clumpers is they tend to be arching rather than upright like runners.) But the suggestion I haven't seen in the comments below is a Crape Myrtle. There are a number that get quite tall but are reasonably easy to prune and shape to your space. Semi-open (depending on your pruning) fairly fast growing, beautiful flowers, fall color and deciduous as you preferred.

    Can't wait to see what you do!

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  27. Scott you need a built arbor with a back wall and roof of sorts, not a flat trellis to try and grow something up. A built structure can be made to fit the space and give you instant privacy. Planting around that then becomes more aesthetic than critical to solving your problem.

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  28. Have you considered a very tall grass species, like Saccharum ravennae or
    Miscanthus floridulus. They might be too wide or flop though. I like Ricki's idea to extend the height of the rebar while providing a firm support. Your back garden is beautiful.

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  29. Wow! I like Riz's idea. Actually, a trellis makes a lot of sense in that spot. The Bamboo would have been nice, too, if it had filled in a little faster/better. Ornamental Grass would be great, too. I'll look forward to hearing about your decision.

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  30. So here's an idea that might seem a bit strange, but here goes: elderberry. I mean, they grow incredibly fast. I really like the flowers and fruit. If you think the wild species are too ... wild, there are some more civilized cultivars. Looking forward to see how you move forward with this.

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  31. Many great suggestions! My first thought was that since you're growing bamboo in a container, get a nice runner that will grow tall and fill in quickly. However, Pam had a good point about bamboo and your garden style (even though bamboo is just a big grass!) Arundo donax is grassy and in the container would get to the height you want but again it does have a more tropical look. How do you feel about Populus tremuloides (Quaking Aspen?) pretty leaf movement, nice bark, golden fall color, not much privacy in the winter though.

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  32. I'm feeling your pain Scott - work has began on Project Privacy in my garden and I'm opting for wooden structure rather than plants. I'm far to impatient!
    I'm not experience enough to make suggestions but I'm going to study what others have suggested - I might pick up some tips.

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  33. Haha...good to know I'm not alone, Angie! I can definitely relate to your impatience...as mine is also wearing thin...I'm really leaning toward a combination of some sort of screen/structure and plants as well...I just don't want to overwhelm the space...which is tricky!

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  34. You know me too well, Peter! It's very true...the Bamboo was always a compromise...as I do tend to avoid anything to tropical...but I wanted something that would grow quickly (yes, the irony is not lost on me)! An Aspen would be beautiful...do you think it would get too big, however? I think the small, tight space is what really limits my plant choices...perhaps I'm being too timid?

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  35. Actually, Jason, that's a great suggestion (and I'm a little embarrassed to admit it never crossed my mind)! I've lamented in the past that I couldn't find space for one...but perhaps here it would work!

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  36. I agree...I think in the end, it's going to be some mix of structure AND plants that will give the best results...I'll definitely post about whatever I decide to do :-)

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  37. I totally have! I actually have Saccharum ravennae...but it's not quite "full" enough...I have thought of a Miscanthus (either floridulus or giganteus) as an option. I do worry, since that spot doesn't get sun until April or May, that they would be too floppy. If it was full sun in that spot, it would make selecting plants so much easier!

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  38. The more I think about it (and the more comments I read) the more I tend to agree with you, Christopher! I think, in the end, that the solution is definitely some combination of structure and plants.

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  39. Good to know, Jane...and I can't believe I hadn't even thought of Crape Mrytle! I actually love them...and have always been a little sad that I don't have room for one...is there a particular variety you'd recommend?

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  40. Ahhh...very going point, Ricki! Do you think the Golden Hops would do ok there...it doesn't get any direct sun from about September-April or so...would they do ok in that light?

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  41. Ahhh, Riz...love your mock-up! I very much agree...I think the best solution is definitely some pairing of structure and plantings...not exclusively one or the other. I actually have a pair of regular Parrotia in our front hell strip and love them. I do tend to shy away from planting anything in pairs, though...if they grow unevenly, it always looks so obvious...is that weird of me???

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  42. I appreciate your faith in my, Grace...I'm feeling very grateful for all the suggestions!

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  43. Haha...yeah, it's not ideal, for sure! I tend to agree about the bamboo...I've never been crazy about them...there is definitely a level of "disconnect" with the rest of the garden. I just wanted something that would grow quickly to obscure the windows! I'm always leery of rows of trees...only because I'm weird that way. I have been VERY tempted by the idea of a sail, however. I've always sort of coveted them in other gardens...but sort of felt like they were too "fancy" for my garden...I have this weird feeling like they will overwhelm the space...I'm so neurotic, I know!

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  44. Hmmmm...I hadn't even thought of that...I'll have to pop over to their site and take a look...thanks for the suggestion!

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  45. Oh, those are lovely trees, James...and you've hit on the biggest sticking point. I want screening and privacy...but I want to have an open, airy feeling.

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  46. Thanks, Linda…I may just take you up on the offer ;-)

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  47. I'm definitely going to have to look into those Bamboos…and I love the idea of some sort of screen….and I think I'll definitely end up doing both…some sort of structure and plants…it was probably inevitable…I was just too timid :-)

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  48. Thanks for the recommendation, Tom…I'm going to look into that one :-) With a name like 'Green Screen', it would seem like a natural choice…HAHA!

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  49. OOOO..I don't think I've ever seen one of those…I must look it up now…it sounds awesome…a true four-season plant!

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  50. I definitely think I'll end up doing some form of trellis or screen in combination with some plants, Laura…you are so right…and I've always secretly wanted to espalier soothing :-)

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  51. It's so funny you mention that Barbara (about big leaves)…it's often something I think about…but I tend to not be very fond of so many of those plants (palms, bananas, cannas…yes, I'm an awful person) and the ones I do like (Rhubarb, Rodgersia) don't like me! "sigh". I like that…and you're so right, again, it shouldn't just be a band-aid solution, but something of beauty in its own right…thank you!

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  52. Oh, Evan…I really should have asked people which Bamboo to buy in the first place, shouldn't I! I know it's because I'm just a neurotic person that I still fear letting running Bamboo into my garden…but you're probably right and I'm just being a bit paranoid (ok…maybe even more than a bit)! I'm definitely looking into the Bamboo Garden…I'll be looking into all my options :-)

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  53. Hmmmm…that's a great idea…my neighbor has a Redbud and I LOVE it! Do you think it might get too big, however? His is about 20' tall and a good 30' or more wide…are they amenable to being pruned…or do you think that would ruin their wonderful, light open-ness?

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  54. Hahahaha…yes, I really did, dint' I, Christina…it's become obvious from all the comments I must have really had a lapse of judgement on that particular day…HAHA! I'll definitely look at those two other ones…thanks!

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  55. HAHAHAHA…oh no you don't…I have my own Privet to remove someday! I'm quite seriously considering the sail option…as long as it doesn't block too much light from the garden. I actually think one of those sails would work FABULOUSLY in your garden!

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  56. Oh yes…the prospect of new neighbors is always a bit terrifying, isn't it! Believe it or not, we actually DID build a shed between our houses…not just partly because it blocked our bedroom window from view!

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  57. That's the silly bit, Donna…I apparently picked one of the few Bamboos that not only grows slowly, but really won't get tall enough to screen the neighbors out! I'll look up the Thuga!

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  58. Yeah…I'm sort of in the same camp, Jenni! Three years without privacy is just too much…and my patience is wearing thin! I would actually love to espalier a tree…I just worry they wouldn't get enough sun for a large part of the year…and I'm notoriously clueless about training/pruning!

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  59. Hahahaha…I knew you'd have some good info for me, Alan! I'll look into those other varieties…I really should have asked you for your advice in the very beginning!

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  60. Here's a link to the specs and commentary on Dave's Garden'. It is listed as full sun, but I bought mine from Blue Heron on Sauvie Island and it was doing very well in partial shade. It's not a big investment plant, in case you decide to try it.

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  61. Hi Alyse!

    So glad you know the pain of which I speak…I used to feel sort of petty and silly about it…but it's really grated on my nerves lately. It's a very tricky spot…it's really narrow and only has sun during Summer (from May-August)…and even then, only from about 11am-4pm. It ideally should get about 8-10' tall (if planted in the 2' tall stock tank) and probably 4-5' wide, preferably in a vase-shape. I seriously might bite the bullet and invest in either some screening/arbor thing…or the above-mentioned sails. If you think of anything else, do let me know…I appreciate the advice!

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  62. Thanks for the recommendation, guys…that variety has gotten a few votes, I see…I'll definitely check it out!

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  63. I agree, Liz…and I'm totally open to a pergola or some sort…I just dread having to build it…I'm not very handy…so I tend to avoid those sort of things…which is silly, I know! I wish I had a handyman who could whip stuff up on demand…wouldn't' that be amazing!

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  64. I agree, Lucy…and I seriously might invest in either an umbrella or the "sails" a few people above mentioned!

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  65. I think you're right…I really need to deal with the issue this year…and then I won't feel the pressure to remove the bamboo :-)

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  66. There is definitely that issue, Kathryn…trees of any size aren't exactly cheap! Luckily, I don't linger in the backyard much during winter…so it's ok if it's deciduous :-)

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  67. Very good to know, Alison…I can never remember if Witch Hazels are fast or slow-growers…and I was afraid they might be a bit too wide for that spot anyway…sigh. I think, after considering things more, I'll definitely be installing some sort of physical screen…whether it's trellis, pergola or sail…that will have to be decided, I guess :-)

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  68. Hi Kris! Yes, indeed, but I'm really not in the backyard much at all during winter…so it's not too big a deal. I'm mostly concerned about not blocking too much light to the rest of the garden (yes, I'm a little ridiculous)! I've never heard of Grewia before…will have to look that one up…thanks!

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  69. Thanks, Ricki…I do think they're beautiful…I've always coveted them in other peoples gardens!Thanks

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  70. After reading some of the other comments it's possible this specific bamboo might not do what you planned originally. I still like the dense and tall form of the screening instead of a tree or set of trees.

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  71. Boy, reread my comment and I just went straight into lecture mode, didn't I? Whoops. Well, that's me I guess. You were saying something about being neurotic? lol. A healthy fear of running bamboo is nothing to be ashamed of. If you didn't have that stock tank or something else that could provide sturdy containment, I wouldn't even recommend running bamboo. I'm from the Pacific Northwest but I'm currently living on the East Coast and there are places where running bamboo has absolutely taken over! The Pacific Northwest has the benefit of learning from the mistakes made over here: don't plant running bamboo in the ground without a good barrier! That said there are some really cool bamboos with black, striped, splotched, or even bluish canes that you could safely grow in that stock tank. Also, I have never ordered from Bamboo Garden, so I really don't know what kind of customer service they have, but I've spent quite a bit of time on their website and they seem like good, plant-obsessed people.

    After reading some of the comments of people who are more familiar with your gardening style, I agree that small trees or upright shrubs may be the way to go, especially riz's idea of the trellis with a small tree on either end and whatever you can imagine growing up or hanging from it. You'd have more usable space than with the stock tank of bamboo, which you can fill with more plants!

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  72. I think you're right, Shirley...the more I think about it...and I do think I'll end up with some form of actual, physical screen of some sort...and the plants can just be the icing on the cake ;-)

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  73. Hahaha...no worries, Evan :-) I think at this moment...after reading all the comments and mulling it over for the past few days...that a combination of both some form of structure AND plants is the way to go...what that ends up being...well, that remains to be seen. Thanks again for the feedback!

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  74. An aspen might eventually get a little large but careful training and pruning could keep it looking beautiful and within bounds.

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  75. Our privacy screening in the back garden is haphazard but slowly coming together. Three lemon cypresses, Cupressus macrocarpa, are mature enough after 3 yrs to fulfill their role as screens. But you don't want evergreens! In the corner of the back garden, over which looms a Rear Window apartment house, Arundo donax is proving very effective as a bulky scrim plant, so that's working out.. Such a problem from hell, isn't it? I couldn't find the sail comment, but I like that idea. Here's a photo of a pergola made with plumbing pipe for an idea to adapt to your situation, even if only temporarily. http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2013-05/75812810.jpg

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  76. Wow, Denise...that's dramatic, isn't it! I wonder what the cost of something like that is (with materials and labor. Achieving privacy really is a difficult task, isn't it...ahh, the joys of urban living ;-)

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  77. Very good to know, Peter :-)

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  78. Actually, white would be perfect, I think...thanks for the suggestion...I'll talk with Paul :-)

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  79. Sorry to hear about the neighbors. I'm pretty sure blog posts would have been written about my roommates and I if blogs had been a thing back when I was young and communal. I'd avoid a vine. They're a lot of maintenance and the roots are as aggressive as tree roots, making it hard to garden nearby. I really like the mix of plants you have, so for potential trees and vines I'd keep in mind what the roots are going to do almost as much as I'd pay attention to how much shade it will make. I think what you want are fast upright shrub/trees like Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis, or Pacific Wax Myrtle, Myrica californica. The Myrica gets going right away, the Redbud sits a year and then shoots upwards.

    I'd also try a shade cloth in the meantime. If you look at my blog archive (drystonegarden) at the Rancho Santa Ana post, they have a shade structure with overlapping colorful shade cloths. Two of them could maybe be rigged without spending a ton of money and might be a nice feature beside accomplishing the screening. My two cents.

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  80. portlandtreetour.wordpress.comJanuary 12, 2014 at 7:41 PM

    Natchez is usually very spreading it its habit. I agree, Xera is the place to go!

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  81. Michael - Plano Prairie GardenJanuary 12, 2014 at 7:58 PM

    Like several others, my first thought was some sort of arbor or other structure, although that could limit your planting space. I like the sail idea. Next time there are 78 people in the house, walk in like you belong there. They probably will not notice. Take a look out the windows and determine the best place to position your screen and maximize your privacy.

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  82. Hi Ryan! Yeah...I try to cut them some slack...remember back to my college days...but there's seriously only so much a guy can take :-) Good point about the vines vs. trees...I often forget about the roots. I do like the look of the shade cloths...and that's similar to what I had it mind...two clots overlapping a bit. Thanks for your input!

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  83. Haha...I totally should! I've actually been in the house before...when the old neighbors lived there...we went over for a belated Thanksgiving...and while looking out their kitchen window, I dropped my fork...it was a little unnerving to realize our whole backyard was like an exhibit at a zoo...you look RIGHT DOWN INTO IT! I don't think I'd be so adamant about privacy if I hadn't actually seen for myself just how much they can see...it's crazy!

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  84. Good to know it has another vote of approval!

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  85. I wonder if we'd get a price break if we bought them at the same time? Remember that insanely cool one we saw on the ANLD tour last June?

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  86. Aspens sucker like crazy, and want to be a big stand of a ticket as big as your house (for example).

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  87. I know the other saying. It says that genius is eternal patience... If I could choose, would decide to plant a tree. Malus x purpurea, or Prunus x cerasifera in varieties may be adequate?
    Whatever you decide, remember that less is sometimes more ;)



    Regards
    Błażej

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  88. I had the same problem, bad neighbours, big tub of reluctant bamboo. It looked exactly like yours for....10 years!!! But then, I decided it was clearly not vigorous and therefore safe to pop in the ground beside the fence and hey presto, within 18 months it was tall and bushy and requiring regular trimming and thinning. I don't know if it wanted to be in the ground, or if it just loved the ground it was in (damp shady corner) but it is romping away even in a Scottish winter. Of course now I have the issue of keeping the beast in its bounds, but it certainly stops the ever changing parade of new neighbours peering through. For a temporary fix in Summer, have you ever tried Jerusalem Artichokes, I got some by accident and they got HUGE pretty quickly. - Cally

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  89. That is so very true, Błażej...I will think about those trees...thanks for weighing in :-)

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  90. Hahahaha...isn't that the way it usually works, Cally...the plants always know best...and sometimes it isn't exactly what WE want, is it!

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  91. Hi Scott,
    there's an overwhelming number of comments here already but I thought I'd nonetheless share my favourite option with you. I'd recommend an Amelanchier-shrub (Saskatoon, Serviceberry). There are different species that vary a bit in size and bloom time, but they all have little white flowers in spring, that ripe to tasty blue berries in summer, and orange-red autumn color of the leaves. They are very easy to cultivate, grow relatively fast, can be pruned without any problem, no suckers, no significant diseases or pests. In your case I guess A.alnifolia might be a good choice 'cause it's only 2 - 4 meters in height. They have that one on the High Line.
    Alright, now I leave it to you to browse the web and find out more. All I can say is I love them and I keep coming back to them 'cause they're just perfect for small spaces!

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  92. Hi Mandy…I'm glad you chimed in! Thank you so much for the recommendation…I'll definitely look into them! There is a house down the street from us that planted some Serviceberry a few years ago…and they are beautiful…I've often admired them whenever I walk past them :-)

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  93. Also what I was going to suggest Scott, although here the fineline's get closer to 10'. Also the standard columnar buckthorn should you not want the stock tank. You'd get a little closer to 15' height. Another option if your leaning towards structure would be an arbor covered in grapevine. This would keep in line with your region and the exorbitant number of vineyards around. Should be fairly fast growing, and to accelerate the process you could hang window boxes half way up the structure as well as at the top to drape plants directly across the "roof". These would have to be hand watered but I'm sure that wouldn't be an issue, lol.

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  94. Hi there - curious what you have decided if anything yet??? :) I have this same issue and so far I have planted some italian cypress, camellia to espalier as well as a fast growing camellia that only gets 4-5' wide x 12'+ tall, azara, jasmine which makes a really nice wall though I think I need something taller like in the 15-20' range - I am looking at a lot of different trees now and utterly confused :) I like the idea of Elderberry and have seen some beauties. I have also seen some really nice upright columnar types of cherry and beech .... other trees of interest are the pseudocamelia, japanese snowbell and I saw an interesting shrub at pistils the other day that looked like it could work some magic... Dodonea viscosa var purpea though it is evergreen and darker foliage - from my experience thus far with my neighbors ... you might really grow to like the evergreen aspect. I also saw some very nice upright witch hazel however it does seem to like to spread out. Wondering if nine bark might help as well... :)

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