Screening Planting

When people call us for a screen planting, they usually are wanting a row of evergreen trees. That is one option for screening an unwanted view. The problem is that type of planting can create some long term issues. For one, spacing is too close for long term success. A 10′-12′ Spruce or Pine will be approximately 5 feet wide at its base at time of planting. There is a tendency to plant such screen planting so the base of each tree is close to each other or overlapping, when planted is a zigzag pattern. That spacing does not allow for any long term growth. Most pyramidal evergreens will reach 30-40′ wide at their base and reach 100′ tall.

With close spacing between plants and the close proximity to the house, this planting will be difficult to sustain over the long haul.

Pictured below is a screen planting that we typically recommend. We space evergreens 20-40′ apart depending on plant variety. We will then plant smaller, non evergreen shrubs, to fill in the gaps between the larger, evergreen trees. This allows plenty of space for the evergreens to mature. The smaller plants between evergreens act as a filler until the larger evergreens reach maturity.

Over time, as the evergreens grow, the shrubs can be headed back, so they take up less and less real estate or they can be transplanted to another location when the time is right. Heading back involves pruning with hand saws and garden pruners. Please don’t use a hedge trimmer unless you want to be a post on Crimes Against Horticulture.

This type of screen planting might not be exactly what you’re looking for. It will not give you an immediate wall of green but that immediate wall of green will be relatively short lived. It will need to be removed at some point and redone from scratch. The type of planting I suggest will not immediately remove an eyesore or give you complete privacy from day 1 be it will be much more visually appealing as well as it being much more sustainable over the long run. What do you think? Would you plant an immediate green wall or do you like the idea of a longer term solution?

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Richard Schipul

For the last 30 years, I have owned the landscape company Designing Eden LLC based in New Milford, CT. We offer landscape designs, landscape installations and garden maintenance services in Fairfield and Litchfield County Connecticut. I am currently the only Nationally Certified Landscape Designer in Litchfield County and sit on the board of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers and Mad Gardeners.


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