I need a fast growing 'privacy wall'

Eric55(5)September 3, 2005


My new neighbors just chopped down all of their backyard vegetation, brought in truckloads of dirt and raised the level of their yard, and installed a hot tub that closely overlooks my small back yard.

I've thought about Thuja "Green Giant" but I think these will get too high and too wide in diameter.

Can anyone recommend a FAST growing evergreen that grows 10-15 feet tall and stays fairly compact in diameter? I live in Connecticut on a hillside so it needs to be winter hardy.

The privacy wall will only get partial sun because there are some tall trees where my property line meets theirs.

I appreciate any suggestions anyone can give me!


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jroot(5A Ont. Canada (near Guelph))

I sure hope that they didn't create a situation where the water from their property runs off to yours, if the level has been raised. That would be illegal.

I'd be tempted to put in ornamental grass which give privacy during the summer and fall months. Or a Japanese yew. I used it in another home. It grew fairly quickly and did give a privacy screen. The new owners chopped it down though. .....different tastes....

Here is a link that might be useful: Japanese yew

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 5:49PM
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Hi Eric,
I've had very good luck with Black Cedar, Thuja occidentalis nigra, I am in zone 5b in Ontario which I think would be USDA zone 4 in the US. I dont use it as a hedge but I have found that for an evergreen it grew very quickly and mine is exposed to very high winds as my home is on the crest of a hill. It is not very susceptible to browning over winter and was very inexpensive. The only thing I cant say is whether it will meet your dimension requirements. Are you stuck on an evergreen hedge or do you have a fence that a vine could go on? Rosie

    Bookmark   September 18, 2005 at 7:32PM
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Nushka_IA(4b IA)

There are lots of cultivars of both yew and Thuja, including narrow ones. For yew, 'Hicksii' is the narrow one. (But do you have deer? Apparently they are beloved of the horned rodents.) For thuja, check out http://hcs.osu.edu/pocketgardener/source/description/th_talis.html. (Sorry if you have to cut & paste the link; I'm kind of a luddite.) 'Nigra' isn't supposed to get more than 4' wide, and 'Emerald', 3' wide (and 'Emerald'--or 'Emerald Green', or 'Smaragd' is very common).

    Bookmark   September 19, 2005 at 4:05PM
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zoosville(5 Ohio)

Hi, Here in my area it is also illegal to fill in and raise the level of your yard "IF" it will cause the water on their property to run onto yours.
My ex next door neighbor would order 1 or 2 truckloads of topsoil every year for years. He said he was only filling in the low spots. I mentioned to him that his side yard was now inches higher than mine.
Have a chain link fence, between our properties, that I used to be able to push the lawn mower against it and the fence would give enough so that I didn't have to trim. Not anymore.
This was about 15 to 20 years ago.
Being the good neighbor that I am,I never insisted he stop adding topsoil, but I sure hinted a lot.
The moral of the story is, if you can do something about it now, do it.
My side and back yard are soaked so often it's pathetic.
I should have spoken up, called zoning or done something.
Good luck

    Bookmark   October 5, 2005 at 12:34PM
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I usually advise to plant some type of vine along with your trees. A vigorous vine like Hops or Golden clematis up a trellis along a strategic line of site. These can be placed either behind the row of new trees or in front. In a few years if the conifers are sufficiently blocking the unwanted view then the vines can be removed if desired. These vines will leaf out when folks are outside in the warmer seasons and even create a noise dampening effect.

Just a note: this privacy works both ways. If possible build a patio or hot tub low to the ground and not raised. Visual lines, light, noise, etc. will be accentuated as you raise your outdoor living area. Not only is it inconsiderate to impact your neighbour's privacy but you are impacting your own.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2005 at 12:42PM
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I know people seem to hate privet but I have been considerating Golden Privet - a variegated type as a screen from the road which is above my house. I'd let it naturalize myself but you could prune yours for the narrowness you need.
Interesting to hear that Arborvitae (that's thuja isn't it?) can withstand wind in 5b. Here in Nebraska, 5a to 4I've been told it won't. I have a new acre in the middle of nothing without a plant on it. I like Arborvitae and wanted to use it on the north and south sides that are in the path of the north/northwest winds and haven't.
In face I just overpaid for a juniper which I just found out will also do poorly for other reasons. I'm really tired of trying to find the right shrubs.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2005 at 9:38AM
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Mary, why don't you contact you local agricultural department for the latest on windbreaks. Combinations of conifers and deciduous trees and shrubs have been used for decades by farmers to create enclaves for the home portion of their land. The tree and shrubs used on the north are not the same as those on the south, etc.

More decorative shrubs can be used within the windbreak. (Thuja would also be doomed in our climate because of drying winds).

    Bookmark   October 10, 2005 at 11:13AM
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Isn't it interesting that Rosamund has had good luck in Ontario with Thuja Nigra on the crest of a hill? I work at an airport and while I'm not really that good at shrubs and trees I swear there is a huge wall of Thuja (arborvitae) on the south side of a hugh sweep of open runway space so that it gets north wind (and I think also Northwest). I live in Nebraska, 5a heading towards 4.
So who do you believe? The predominate number of people say no Thuja on north exposed sites in zone 4 or 5 - yet here is ancedotal evidence that it can work.
I don't know what to think half the time.
Eric 55 - one thing to consider - do you really need a screen in the winter? Are you out there hanging out in your lounge chair sippin a brew in January? Maybe you could get by with some of the busy small tree sized shrubs like Chokecherry, Lilac, Viburnum's etc.
Or in the winter when their in their hot tub you can go outside and pretend to bird watch with some binoculars and THEY'LL put up another hedge:) Just jokin folks.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2005 at 8:51PM
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winterblues2003(z7 wa.)


    Bookmark   December 11, 2005 at 5:55PM
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I have a sweet autumn clematis. It's hanging on to its leaves so far this year. It might be a good one to give some privacy even for the winter. I planted mine for privacy from some very nosy neighbors. This is only my second winter with it. It's way way over 8 ft already and pretty thick. I think you can wait til after it leafs out in the spring before you have to prune the old stuff. (I hope!)

    Bookmark   December 21, 2005 at 9:02PM
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Lilliputin(z5 NS)

You might want to try planting some Forsthyia bushes as an interm planting til proper shrubs/evergreens fill the property line in.

They get fairly dense, tough as ole' boots, usually cheap as chips to buy, spread fast but not overly invasively, they grow about 10ft or so and give you the added bonus of lovely yellow spring flowers every year. They don't require much either. When the stems get really woody, just prune them out and new ones will grow in. They can be pruned into hedge-shapes right after they finish flowering [they flower on 2nd year wood, like lilacs]

This spring I intend to transplant the suckers from the three Forsthyia bushes I have in the yard, mixed with lilacs, to my front yard along the road to provide some privacy during the green months.

best of luck to ya

    Bookmark   February 3, 2006 at 2:48AM
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sheryl_ontario(Muncho Lake, BC z2)

You can plant a living willow hedge with 4' willow pieces. Just stick them in the ground, a few feet apart and keep them watered. They will root and grow. As they grow, you weave them into a living fence. I did this on a chain link fence once. I lived there for about 5 years after that and I had a very dense matt of willow brances woven throughout the fence. Hoever, if the pieces are a few inches around, You won't need a fence to weave them together.

It makes an interesting conversation piece, anyway.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2006 at 6:20PM
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vrie(3/4 MT)

Maybe you could do what I am doing. I'm testing this year-- I am "building" a "fence" of sunflowers around my corner lot. In many places, right of way applies to new fences with a certain set back, but does not apply to vegetation. This may tell us whether we want a fence closer or a hedge at the edge (I'm really trying to convince him on the hedge!)

    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 6:41PM
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I live in southwestern ON (zone5?) and am this summer taking posess of a new home with NO vegetation (sod, I believe is it!) the yard is south/south west exp. and is sloping towards the rear. I have about 5o feet both ways to play with. Due to the slope, I am looking out on all my neighbours along the pre existing back fence. I feel like it is an ocean of neighbours.I am hoping for some kind of more mature tree to provide height (just a summer screen would be fine) A nursery person suggested large plantain maples (er, large leafed I think the girl at the nursery said) or a spicy red maple that would light up magenta every night as the sun goes down--but these might be too much because I also hope to have a pool--that isn't entirely shaded in years to come) I know I have to worry about swales between lots, but thats fine:) So I can't have anything too wide, or too rooty (is there such a thing?) but fast growing that won't damage the (hopeful) pool (I think maples have big root systems--?) Any help would be dearly appreciated.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 8:34PM
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I wouldn't plant any tree before putting in the pool. The reason is because it takes a bit of excavation work with large machinery to prepare the area for the pool. This just might damage your tree.

For the trees- don't choose any tree that sheds too many leaves and debris into the pool. So choose evergreens.

As for addressing the privacy thing.. First take a photo from the angle of your house. Print it down and then plot in the trees - with the idea of setting it where your neighbors' views are blocked off. Calculate the height you will need. Set trees far from the pool location. Once you've done this, you will have an idea of where to put in the trees and the height you will need... And then select the kinds of trees that will fit this need. It's easier this way because buying a mature tree and setting in in ground can be tremendously expensive. Get it right the first place.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 2:23PM
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For a fast grown privacy, I would like to suggest the Spartan Juniper. It is a dense columnar evergreen that gets about 4 feet wide and 20-25 feet tall. They are fast growing and have a stately graceful appearance, not picky about soil type, well behaved, hardly any maintenance.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 5:57PM
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october17, I have used sweet autumn the same way,
it is almost evergreen until zero degree temps, then the foliage dies but does not drop from the plant until new growth starts in the spring. I just prune and clear off the foliage in the spring when I clean everything else up in the yard and go for another season. It is great on our chain link fence and makes it look like a living hedge. I am sure it would fill in almost any trellising to a height of 15 ft or more in just one season. good stuff!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 8:24AM
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I am nastier than everyone here. All I could think was, put in a large sugar maple, close to the hot tub, and some honey locust flanking it. Then buy then rakes and cleaning cloths.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2013 at 5:44PM
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