By Ken Lain, the mountain gardener
October is the time to plant privacy screens for the maximum growth necessary for seclusion next year. As the autumn colors drop the last of their leaves our gardens can feel naked, but non-deciduous plants can “clothe” a winter landscape. Without strategically placed evergreens in the yard, it can feel as if prying eyes are looking right into your home. Not only does your privacy seemingly disappear, but that neighbor’s debris pile can be on view!
The solution to both of these unwanted invasions of privacy is not rocket science. Simply plant a wall of living trees or shrubs to block an undesirable view and to create the privacy you need! Enable enjoyable hot tub sessions without prying eyes from that too-close-for-comfort neighbor.
Here is a great example of an “evergreen” ever-gold local hedge of Golden Euonymous. Best to plant the shrubs in October for maximum autumn rooting that’s critical for a lush wall next spring.
To successfully add evergreens to a landscape, there are several essential steps worth your time and energy. The most important requirement for evergreen trees to thrive is drainage. Blend one shovelful of Watters Premium Mulch into every three shovels full of native earth to pack around each plant’s roots. Feed new trees with my specially formulated “All Purpose Plant Food”, 7-4-4; the cottonseed meal in this natural food promotes robust root formation while maintaining good foliage color. Lastly, water your newly planted trees with a solution of ‘Root & Grow‘. This water additive encourages the roots of a plant to form a deep, healthy system.
When you’re ready to choose the trees for your living wall of green, read through the list that follows. It is comprised of screeners that over the years have performed very well locally.
Colorado Spruce – Very cold-hardy, this spruce is the perfectly symmetrical Christmas-tree-shape. Excellent choice for a front yard holiday tree or as a semi-formal accent in a large yard. It makes a pretty evergreen background against contrasting foliage colors, flowering shrubs, or to highlight autumn leaf shows of trees and shrubs. Line up several for a windbreak or to easily diffuse lights and sounds along busy streets.
Pinyon Pine – This dense pine is easy to care for and as cold hardy as any
native can be. Its thick green needles are sturdy and more numerous than those of other pines, with less needle drop in summer. Thick and 25’ tall it makes the perfect windbreak and an effective shield from prying eyes.
Deodar Cedar – This is the largest of the screening plants, growing to
over 50 feet tall and 18 feet wide. It is one of the fastest growers of the screeners, growing 2-3 feet every year. As with most upright evergreens, this cedar can thrive on low water use, drought conditions, and drip irrigation. Make sure to give it plenty of growing space because, with its long, swooping branches of Arizona Blue foliage, this tree is going to need it!
Juniper – Finally, let’s look at the juniper family. Hillspire, blue point, and Wichita are on the extensive list of junipers available at the garden center now. Juniper forests surround us, so it’s a no-brainer that junipers are naturals to add to our landscapes. Whichever color and height you like, all grow well in this part of the world.
Arizona Cypress – MY favorite native evergreen screener is Arizona
cypress. It is like a large alligator juniper in size and color, but grows faster and fills in more completely than other screening plants. Growing to over 20 feet tall and 12 feet wide in just a few years, you can see why this is the number one choice for a planted screen. If you prefer a cypress in rich green instead of an Arizona blue, go for the Leyland cypress. Both trees grow to the same size and have the same water and soil needs.
There are more screener choices, such as the larger evergreen shrubs and deciduous trees like aspens, but we’ll discuss those varieties another time.
Book just Published! The Secret Garden: Plants as a Natural Screen is an all local gardening book where I’ve presented deeper detail about screening plants. Free copies are available for download at WattersGardenCenter.com under ‘LEARN’.
Until next issue, I’ll be helping local gardeners plan living screens for landscaped privacy.