So, you’ve decided that you want a privacy screen around or in front of your house and now you’re wondering how to go about it. It doesn’t have to be a complicated project as there are some simple guidelines to help you along. First of all, you need to think about why you want the screen as this will inform your selection of trees and how you plant them.
Your neighbour has a new extension and it’s making you feel a bit overlooked or imposed-upon
A mixed set of trees, involving tall conifers and smaller deciduous trees, is the best way to go about screening off a neighbour. If you’re on good terms with next door, but you just want a bit more privacy, then you can soften this effect by using a couple of larger evergreens like Leyland cypress trees or a Portugal laurel.
If it’s just one or two windows – kitchens and bedrooms are usually involved – that you feel are over-looked a bit too much for your liking, then target plant a couple of thujas to interfere with the line of sight without being too much of a barrier.
If you want to obscure a high-rise block or an industrial complex
You’ll probably need a larger screen than average, in terms of height or width, or both. Your best bet is a dense row of fast-growing conifers that will reach a good height, like the thuja Green Giant, for example. If you mix in some smaller evergreens and some deciduous trees as well, you’ll achieve a varied, more natural look.
If you have a problem with just one window or unpleasant sight
Then you can choose a smaller tree and make it a feature in itself – the Viburnum tinus is a great-looking tree and it doesn’t cost much. You could also, if you want a taller screen, plant one of the taller, slimmer conifers like the Calocedrusdecurrens. Depending on how much space you have, you could also include wider trees like magnolias which are low-maintenance but offer lots of coverage.
I love my south-facing garden and so I don’t want to block out too much of the summer sunshine
In this scenario, you should consider how much of the light you want to block out. Conifers might not be your best option here, as they’re dense and evergreen, so look at birch trees instead. They will let in some light during the summer, and more in the winter. For more screening, try a mix of deciduous and evergreen, but make sure the evergreens are smaller and less dense than the really big ones so that they don’t dominate the garden and block too much light.
On the other hand, dense trees that can be pollarded might be a good idea. Many of the Acer trees can be developed over the years, with careful pruning, into real features, with dense spreads that really catch the eye while offering a good screen.