Screening balcony

EGO45(6bCT)June 19, 2009

Friend of mine was looking for advice and I wasn't able to provide it right away.

Looking for a collective wisdom :-)

Situation: two-story townhouse condo in z7 (Long Island, NY). Large wooden balcony(5x8') with a standard 54" high railing all around. Two neighbor's identical balconies are about 7-8' apart on a left and on a right. Sun from sunrise till 11:30am and then again from 4pm till dusk. Community charter prohibits to built/install any kind of permanent structures (trellises/awnings etc) on a balconies, but she wants a privacy from the sides neighbors!

So far I have only one idea in a rough and I'm not sure if it will work at all.

Idea is to have a row of pots (or one large rectangular box-container) on each side of the balcony and grow there... bamboo. I have no clue about bamboo(s), so it might not work culturaly at all, beside other obstacles.

What would you suggest?

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whitegarden(Z5 MA)

That sounds like a good idea. She could also sink a trellis into the planting box and grow a vine of some sort for privacy.

I'd have to research varieties of bamboo to find one that would survive in a planting box, but that would be the way I would go.


    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 10:23AM
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cloud_9(z5 CT)

Fast growing twining vines like morning glories or hyacinth bean grown on strings would bypass the trellis ban and not take up too much precious real estate. You could even grow them in window box planters mounted to the outside of the railing to save even more space.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 4:02PM
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arbo_retum(z5 ,WinchstrMA)

george, i think your idea is a brilliant one. to find out about z.7 bamboo container hardiness, i would suggest that your friend call the John P. Humes Japanese Stroll Garden on L.I. and ask Stephen Morell, the director.they grow alot of bamboo and will probly know the answer. chamaecyparis and thuja can also be box-grown; thuja de groot's spire, or a thin specimen of smaargd thuja- would grow tall quickly. I very much like whitegarden's suggestion of the trellis attached to the rear wall of the planting box and wired to the railing (and therefore not 'permanent')but i would suggest, if it would be hardy in the box planting, a vine like lonicera heckrotii which blooms a LONG time and gets dense. or a combo of lonicera and ivy. Imagine how thrilled the neighbors would be to have this privacy screen to enjoy (w/o any expense or labor on their part!)

Here is a link that might be useful: hume japanese garden

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 1:32AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Hi, our DD had a similar situation this summer in a new apartment. So far, she has not decided what she will do. There is the typical railing and a post that is over her head on the corner, so we were considering using those plastic ties to put a piece of trellis there and hold it to the railing with the plastic ties. Even if you just had a window box on the deck floor and inserted a trellis as WG suggests, you could anchor it better by using the plastic ties to attach it 'temporarily' to the railing. I can't see how they could consider that a permanent structure.

Another idea could be to arrange a grouping of potted standards or trees.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 1:05PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Trellises are easy to attach (and detach) from a railing if you use cable ties. I recently attached some trellises to my deck railing, both as a screen and to support climbing roses. You can also use velcro ties.

I attached the trellis on the outside of the railing, sitting on the deck boards, and used either plastic or stainless steel cable ties (Home Depot had the stainless steel ties and I wanted to try them). Plastic ties succumb to a pocket knife, but are very strong.

View from the deck. The rose should eventually cover the whole trellis.

View from the outside:

Cable tie attachment. I've left the ends of the ties uncut for now, in case I need to tighten them some more.

Another screen I used is a free-standing hinged trellis that acts as a door. I covered it with floating row cover that isn't completely opaque so that it screens but doesn't look like a wall. One side is attached to a post with velcro ties. If it gets really windy, I fold the screen up against the railing so it doesn't blow over or get ripped.


    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 4:25PM
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Thank you, ladies, but unfortunately trellises are not allowed to be attached (in any fashion) to the railings. She already went thru this phase. Management demanded to remove them. Freestanding are OK, however, but they are not practical in this case for the obvious reason.
(My first-off the bat idea was to grow group 3 clematises in pots on a folding trellis similar to Claire's in a last picture, but without being attached to the structure trellises will be flying all over the place)
All vines and/or climbers will need a support of some sort and in this case we simply lacking it.
As I could see it, it should be something tall (7-8'), upright, self-supporting, relatively small in diameter and to be able to sustain z7 winters in a pot. Not necessary evergreen, but then it should be fast growing during the season.
Where is a bamboo expert when we need her/him? :-))
P.S. It just occured to me that something large trained as an espalier should work and I recall seeing cotinus Royal Purple and one of the japanese maples trained in a such way. What else could be a subject for espalier? No pyrachanta or climbing hydrangeas, please :-))

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 9:50PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Well, she can always start with a Self-Watering Planter/Trellis and fill it with an appropriate vine/espalier, whatever.

It's 53 inches tall, but she could raise it up on a platform and plant something that will reach higher if supported.


    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 5:27PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

The problem with training something as an espalier is that I think it takes a lot of time to get them decent looking, and I'm sure she wants the privacy screen NOW, or soon.

If you have a trellis you can hang something decorative on it while the espalier grows.

some plant types here


    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 5:38PM
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