Privacy is an important consideration for creating the kind of inviting backyard that you will want to use every day. You don’t have to use traditional privacy fencing to keep the outside world, well, outside. Here are five landscape design ideas for using shrubs that would add privacy to your Harrisburg, PA, patio.
Shrubs are a natural barrier that looks beautiful and can make you feel that you’re a part of nature when you’re surrounded by them. A natural privacy screen won’t give you the boxed-in feeling that privacy fencing can create. This is especially evident in a small backyard. Although the function is the same—privacy—shrubs offer a softer, more natural, and more interesting screen.
A Long-Lasting Effect
Choose evergreen shrubs for year-round privacy. While no shrub will provide an immediate screen, opt for fast-growing evergreen shrubs as the basis for your privacy wall. A good privacy wall will be at least 6 to 7 feet tall. Good privacy shrubs are available both as conifers (like juniper or arborvitae) and leafy evergreens. If you only use your patio seasonally and don’t mind a more open feel in winter, you can choose deciduous shrubs including dogwood and lilacs to provide a beautiful privacy screen from spring through early fall.
1. Opt for a Moveable Privacy Screen
You could create a mobile privacy screen using large rectangular planters placed on casters. If you don’t want to look at the same view all the time and just want seasonal privacy (for example, around a pool deck), you can use movable planters filled with tall ornamental grasses that you can reposition as you like. Because containers elevate the plants, this gives you an opportunity to plant evergreen shrubs you love but that aren’t quite tall enough to be used as privacy screens, such as dwarf blue spruce.
2. Supplement the Bushy Effect
Look into filling the space between the shrubs with ornamental grass. Since there’s going to be a period of time where the gaps between shrubs aren’t quite grown in, you can fill the space with ornamental grass for additional privacy and visual interest during the growing season. Certain species of ornamental grasses are very tall—Northwind Switch Grass, for example, grows to 6 feet, and its flower plumes extend its height to 7 feet. This approach also adds visual interest and texture to your living wall.
3. Stagger the Shrubs
If you have the space and want instant privacy before shrubs mature, you could have the shrubs planted in a staggered zigzag pattern.
4. Aim for Variety
Mix conifers and leafy evergreens for greater visual impact. A uniform wall of greenery can be soothing, but if you want more texture and interest, alternate a conifer such as arborvitae with the dense evergreen foliage of skip laurel, holly, or boxwood. This is also an opportunity to vary the colors of your privacy screen—boxwood, for example, comes in variegated gold and white varieties. For even more visual contrast and to attract wildlife, alternate a coniferous shrub with Hicks Yew, a shrub with evergreen foliage that features bright red berries.
5. Incorporate Your Hardscapes
You could top a wall with privacy shrubs. Building a low retaining wall/planter gives a more substantial feel to a privacy hedge, especially on a sloped lot. This also lets you use dwarf varieties that would otherwise not work well as privacy shrubs.