By Jane Milliman
Privacy is one of a garden’s most sought-after features, but it can be tricky to create without spending a fortune. If you don’t have a century-old yew hedge already in place, where do you start?
Some of the best places to look for inspiration are cities and villages, where privacy is at a premium. Fencing an outer corner is a good method of keeping mail carriers and neighborhood kids from cutting across and trampling your garden or lawn.
These city gardeners made clever use of two small sections of iron fencing to send the message: “Don’t walk here.” Clearly, this bit of fence doesn’t keep anyone out, but it does create a psychological barrier.
Tall, fast-growing grasses can create a dense screen in just a season or two. This suburban gardener has layered various grasses in such a way that the house and inner garden — which are quite close by — can’t be seen from the street.
When I was a kid, I learned about baffling from my grandfather. Outside his chain-link pool yard fence, he planted three sections of yew hedge. The center stood a few feet in front of the left and right, and the edges overlapped a bit. From the approach it looked like one long row, but you could slip between the layers to reach the gate, if you knew it was there. Use a similar method to quickly create a dense look by staggering your shrub placement, such as the way these dwarf Alberta spruces line up.
Another way to obstruct a view — and add a little intrigue — is to design a garden using curves. This city gardener has staged plants around a curvy path so you can’t quite see what’s around the corner.
If you want to keep people out with a privacy fence, there’s no reason why it has to be a large expanse of boring wood. Soften its look with plants. A side benefit: You get extra gardening space, as with this hanging herb garden, right.