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Where to plant my privacy screen trees/shrubs

It’s only 2 weeks since I bought my privacy screen shrubs, and already the leaves are dropping on a couple of them—the service berry and the fruticosa.

So as I sit in my hammock, I’m trying to figure out where the best spots will be to plant them, baring in mind that I still don’t have my survey so I don’t know where my exact lot lines are.

Some of the criteria for their position are:

  • How tall do they get and how quickly?
  • Do they prefer full sun, shade or partial sun/shade?
  • How pretty are they? I.e how long do they flower for, what’s the complete range of colours through the seasons?

The Downy Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea)

I’ve looked up the downy serviceberry online as I’m unfamiliar with the tree and found that it grows about 1-1/2 to 2 ft a year (9-10 feet in 5-8 years), but can grow quite wide/tall. It is currently about 3 feet high, so it will make a reasonable privacy screen from higher windows in about 3-5 years, at least in some areas of my garden, but I probably should not plant it too close to my Newport plum or the house. It likes well-drained soil, so the south side is no good, as it gets very wet in Spring due to the grading and drainage from the house behind. It has pretty pink flowers in spring, berries in summer and colorful leaves in the Fall, apparently, but judging by its current state they drop quite early. Mine is looking sparse, so placing it on the northern side of the garden about 3 feet from the lot line and about 10 ft from the Newport will be the best spot.

Lynwood Gold Forsythia

Compared with the Serviceberry, the forsythia is looking thick and lush green at the moment, and had I bought 4 of them, I’d have an almost complete privacy screen from my neighbours still. I therefore need to plant it somewhere that will give me summer long privacy as well as shade. However it only grows to 15 ft and from previous experience, I know it’ll be a few years before it reaches fence height, so it will need to be planted close to my seating area to afford me enough privacy in its early years. It flowers in early Spring, and here in Canada, it’s bright yellow flowers are one of the first signs that warmer weather is on its way, but I know they are short-lived. Although I’m not really a huge fan of yellow in my garden, I do love to see its burst of sunny yellow in April, so I will plant it where I can see it through the patio window from my sofa. Probably not far from where it is now.

Red Osier Dogwood

I don’t find dogwoods particularly pretty generally but the red branches should provide some winter colour and the white flowers in May will hopefully be pretty. My previous dogwoods (the variegated leaf variety) grew quite rapidly width-wise and provided a fairly bushy fence-height screen within about 3-4 years. Although the red osier dogwood only grows to about 7 ft, my previous dogwoods took up a lot of room. I also don’t remember seeing any flowers (perhaps I was always in the UK when they flowered), so it doesn’t need to be in a primary position but I’ll have to plant it about 6-7 ft away from any of the bigger shrubs/trees. Since it’s not going to stop prying eyes from upstairs windows, and it doesn’t mind wet soil, I’ll either plant it south-side where I’ll see it from the kitchen window in the winter, or close to the north lot line to block the view of the neighbour’s garage.

Amorpha fruticosa Indigobush Amorpha

Can’t wait to see the blue flowers on this bush, but the leaves are already dropping and it’s looking a bit sparse compared with the forsythia. It flowers in late June so it doesn’t need to be visible from indoors as I hope to be outside a lot by then. It’s supposed to be very fragrant and attracts butterflies so I’ll want it where I get to see and smell it from my hammock. As it only grows 10-15 ft, I imagine it’s going to be awhile before it provides a screen from upstairs windows unless planted close to my seating area, so pretty much where it is will be probably work. If I move the forsythia over a bit to the right so I can see it from inside the house, the fruticosa can go right where the dogwood is currently standing. Between the two of them I’ll have a nice screen, some shade, colour and smell…not to mention butterflies while I swing in my hammock.

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