Feel like you live in a glass house? There’s a cure for that

Gloria Heck
Gloria Heck
Published on February 11, 2021

Love your home but feel like your neighbors are so close they practically live with you?

When you find yourself feeling like you live in a fishbowl and craving privacy, turn to Mother Nature. She provides a number of landscaping techniques that will help close your home off to prying eyes and give you that feeling of solitude you crave.

Best of all, we picked the solutions that require the least maintenance.

Take the first steps to solitude

If you live in a community that is managed by a HOA, you’ll need to dig out that packet of documents you received when you bought the home. Most HOAs have landscaping rules and it’d be a shame to have to remove your privacy landscaping if you’re found in violation.

Then, decide how much privacy you want. Will you want something dense that completely blocks the view of the home from passers-by or neighbors, or do you prefer a lighter touch?

As you decide which plants to purchase, ensure that they are suited to your climate. Both the USDA and Sunset magazine have determined hardiness zones. The former lists plants based on their cold tolerance.

Consider using native plants. They are generally more tolerant of your region’s soil conditions and microclimates and are less picky in their maintenance requirements. The American Horticultural Society lists native plant societies in each state at ahsgardening.org.

Also, you may want to check which plants your county Cooperative Extension Service suggests. You’ll find a list for each state at gardenologist.org.

Hiding the full Monty

Although it doesn’t seem to be a concern for most suburban homeowners, if it bothers you that the front of the house is open to the world, consider the following options.

Your first decision is to consider whether you want an evergreen solution or deciduous. The latter defeats both the “low-maintenance” and “privacy” issues, however. Unless you don’t mind losing your privacy when the weather cools and foliage drops.

That said, the extension folks at Colorado State University recommend that you choose a woody plant so that when it loses its foliage, the twigs and branches will still help shield the home from the street.

North privet (Ligustrum x ibolium) is one to consider as it grows rapidly (up to 3 feet per year, according to the Arbor Day Foundation) and Japanese meadowsweet (Spirea japonica), a twiggy shrub with beautiful blooms, grows from 4 to 6-feet in height.

Evergreen shrubs to consider include Emerald arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Emerald’), Nigra arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Nigra’), English laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) and, in warmer climates, oleander (Nerium oleander). The latter is toxic, so it may not be a good choice for those with small children and/or pets who like to munch on plants.

Don’t neglect the extremely fast growth and beauty of bamboo. Clumping varieties are attractive and won’t invade the rest of yours and your neighbor’s yards. They do, however, drop litter, so keep them away from spas and swimming pools.

Choose fast-growing plants to get your privacy sooner. Whichever you decide on, however, with strategic placement you’ll be able to block those prying eyes.

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