By Keri Byrum
If you view your backyard as your private oasis, as I do, block out outside intrusions. Whether your yard is large or small, you certainly can find an option to meet your needs. I chose the plants suggested here for their ability to screen and create privacy while taking up relatively little space.
Is there a fence on your property? A chain-link fence might be an eyesore, but it contains pets and children. And it can serve as a great structure for you to grow beautiful flowering vines. ‘Lady Margaret’ passionflower, right, is a favorite of mine for its stunning red flowers and well-behaved habit. Unlike other passionflowers, ‘Lady Margaret’ doesn’t sucker. It also serves as a great food source for several butterfly species.
If you hope to establish a hedge, keep in mind the full size of your plants, and that you have to work to maintain them. Consider plants that don’t need trimming but are still effective for screening.
The clumping fishtail palm (Caryota mitis) is a good choice for the Gulf Coast. It reaches a full height of 20 feet.
Each leaflet of clumping fishtail palm resembles its namesake. And it makes a light and effective screen.
For a slightly shorter choice, lady palm (Rhapis excelsa) may be your answer. This 8- to 12-ft-tall palm grows well in shade. It spreads slowly, and the dark-green leaves create a dense wall from the ground all the way to the top. You can easily remove any unwanted stems. I remove the 1-inch stems once a year to help maintain a border with neighboring yards.
Bamboo has a bad reputation because of some species’ invasiveness, but clumping varieties make great upright screens. Clumping bamboos grow — just as their name implies — in tight clumps that become dense, upright screens. Clumping bamboos are drought tolerant once established, so they offer a tough screening option.
The variety shown right is graceful bamboo (Bambusa textilis gracilis). It is cold hardy, and since it reaches a height of nearly 25 feet, it creates a great screen and doesn’t take up much width. For most of us, this smaller species fits better in our yards than some of the 60-ft-tall varieties.
Creating privacy in your landscape doesn’t have to include a wall! Consider your options to create a lush, green separation from the outside world so you can enjoy the beauty of your landscape.