By Julie Martens Forney
If there’s one thing we have plenty of in the Mid-Atlantic, it’s people. In most areas we rub elbows with neighbors. Carve out some privacy for your outdoor spaces with a combination of plants and structures. Even the most traditional privacy screen -- a privacy fence -- looks better when skirted with a planting bed, and pots stocked with low-maintenance plants.
Blending greenery with structures crafts an affordable privacy screen that leaves some green in your wallet. Choose low-maintenance perennials or ornamental grasses to save time.
Pickets plus plants. A traditional picket fence fosters a sense of privacy while preserving a bit of openness. A short fence under 3 feet is just the right height for surrounding a patio.
For assured winter hardiness use a low-maintenance perennial native such as blazing star (Liatris spicata). Upright flower spikes echo pickets artfully enough to make you look like a garden-design genius.
In my front yard I combine a short picket fence with taller perennials and ornamental grasses.
Affordable hanging baskets of Supertunias are yearly purchases. The low-maintenance perennials provide ever-increasing interest for a one-time investment. By midsummer I can sit on the porch unseen by passersby.
Lattice plus plants. You don’t have to invest in a fence to savor privacy. Team an open, easily constructed lattice with plants and eye-catching garden art.
The grapevine (pictured) provides excellent screening by midsummer, as does a butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii) in the foreground. Evergreen false cypress (Chamaecyparis) provides year-round interest. Use garden art, such as this purple star, to add eye candy and block gaps until plants fill in each year.
Ornamental grasses. Ornamental grasses are among the best low-maintenance perennials for a seasonal privacy screen. This row of zebra grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’) screens an amazing outdoor room, complete with ceiling fan, picnic table, and grill.
You don’t have to spend big bucks to gain a little privacy. What strategies have you used to create an affordable privacy screen?
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