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megzuidema

What trees would you plant to regain privacy?

last month


We recently renovated our front lawn and lost a hedge of overgrown green giant arborvitae that blocked the traffic on the busy road in front of our house. now we want to think about some trees to plant that would diminish our view of the street, especially from our dining room (window on left side of house near garage). Im not really sure where to plant the trees for the best design. i was thinking of planting a bloodgood Japanese maple off to the side of our window, and maybe a flowering dogwood on the other side of the house. ive also cosidered adding a small bed of trees in the corner where our driveway meets our sidewalk but i dont know if that would look awkward. any design advice would be appreciated!

Comments (24)

  • last month

    Where are you located?

  • last month

    Why/how did you lose the arbs? Can you replace them with something more attractive--large shrubs--10-12 feet--would that do the trick? You could plan for spring bloom, berries, perhaps fall color too.

  • last month

    i forgot to mention we are in 6b. we lost the arborvitae because it was very overgrown and unattractive, with poison ivy growing in it. looking for something more attractive like floweri by trees but not sure where to place them.

  • last month

    I was thinking aomething like this (simulation from iscape)


  • last month

    I like the mockup of those two new trees, especially the maple. I’m not familiar with that particular Japanese maple - does it tend to have droopy branches? If so that would be problematic next to the driveway and sidewalk.

  • last month

    The two small trees look nice but they won't do much to block out the view of a busy street, particularly in winter. Are you sure you don't want an evergreen in place of the Japanese maple?

  • last month

    This is a blood good Japanese maple. They are supposed to stay more compact with a limited spread but not dwarf. On the left is a white dogwood tree. Both area are partial shade. Is it strange to have a tree outside of a garden bed?

  • last month

    Thanks Cecile, I’ve been going back and forth on deciduous vs. evergreen. I would love to have some more attractive trees after having those overgrown arborvitae, but maybe a mix is something worth considering.

  • last month

    I'd plant two natives. Cornus Florida is the prettiest dogwood and native to the US. In place of the Japanese Maple, you can plant a red-leaved elderberry, ninebark, or a variagated leaved redbud.

  • last month

    How large is the front yard? Just how much space do you have to work with?

    Which way does the house face? Is there a source of shade besides the house, like a neighbor's tree?

    Where in the world is the front yard?

    If you are backing out of the driveway onto a busy road, you don't want anything that is going to block sightlines.

  • last month

    Are you willing to keep a blood good Japanese maple groomed? They can get a height and spread of 15+ feet when mature if they are allowed ungroomed. The pretty little yard ones are groomed to keep a size/shape.

  • last month

    Holly?

  • last month

    The yard is about 25 ft by 40 ft.


    i am in Mass, zone 6b.


    north facing house. mostly partial shade in the morning woth afternoon sun. shade from our house, neighbors and trees.


    no worries about uncoming traffic as it is coming from direction of driveway.


    yes i could keep the bloodgood pruned.

  • last month

    Please post a pic taken from house looking out to street. You said you want to ’diminish’ your view of the street & I’m sure that’s what the overgrown green giants did. The trees don’t need to be close to house to block view - actually more view block from a distance. The 25’x 40’ - is that 25’ deep from sidewalk/ street to front porch? You have a great opportunity to plant a streetscape that contains both an evergreen back bone of plants for year round visual block & include spring / summer flowering shrubs. One tree, either dogwood or bloodgood, could be on side of yard opposite driveway. Your planting beds in front of the house would look very nice if expanded into the lawn & flowering shrubs or plants with different colors & textures put in. I think all that planning should have been done before new lawn installed but that’s a lesson learned by experience.

  • last month

    Bloodgood is one of the largest growing Japanese maples, getting almost to the same size as the species. In a suitable climate, it can reach 25-30' tall and 15-20' wide. As with ALL Japanese maples, you want to keep pruning to a minimum.

  • last month

    It 25 foot from front of house to street, and about 40 ft across the front of house. i see your point that this could have been planned before lawn installed but im still unsure what to plant and we really wanted to get ride of the green giants. ive thought of planting closer to street but didn’t know if that would look put of place? Here are some photos from our front steps.



  • last month
    last modified: last month

    Hi Meghan, thanks for posting extra pics - helps ’see’ what you’re describing. What I wrote about planning - guess how I learned to take a longer range view of garden planning? Yep - personal experience gained from doing things in wrong order & discovered after the fact! I get filling the entire space with turf while figuring things out because this space is your front yard on full public view! This buys you time. I’m guessing your neighbors on both sides of street are thrilled the overgrown GG’s are gone. 😊

    Your neighborhood appears very well maintained. Don’t know how long you’ve lived here or how well you know your neighborhood but have you walked / driven surrounding blocks to look for examples of plantings done close to sidewalk? My thought is that yes, it would fit in & not be out of place - those GG might have been out of place though. Plantings would need to be chosen according to mature size to figure out how close to sidewalk to go because you don’t want to be stuck pruning limbs off the sidewalk - either higher branches that are head height or lower ones taking up sidewalk space. I’m looking at the house with nice yard directly across from yours with black SUV parked on street. They have a very nice, deep & layered planting bed on left side of house - facing it - & they have 2 ’trees’ which look like shrubs limbed up & trained to multi trunked tree shape. They might be too close to their house but I’d find out what they are & research size - either might be a good candidate to plant in the grass between brick walkway & drive. Just make sure your walkway isn’t blocked by branches. If you plant in that spot you might want to remove that entire area of grass & make a great multilayed bed of shrubs & flowers there around base of the small tree/ shrub in center. That should create the dining room privacy you want but not block your windows. Another thought is while doing that, widen your walkway so it’s the full width of stairs between the railings. You might find matching brick to add but if not, add a contrast brick color to emphasize both edges. I’d spray weed killer on the grass in between the bricks to sharpen the walkway up. On the left side of your house - facing it - think about another very small tree - mature size should not cover any part of neighbor’s drive. Be mindful of what @gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9) tells you about the size of blood good maple!

  • last month
    last modified: last month

    Mature size of a bloodgood Japanese maple will be more like this:

    And yes, I show a large shade tree instead of a dogwood or other small tree, mostly because the higher branching allows at least some of the house to be seen. A dogwood, with its low branching, would hide the house entirely from the street. Your call whether that would be okay. If not, you could try a redbud, which is also a fairly small tree, but which often grows in a multi-trunked vase shape with a higher canopy. Normal flower color is purple-pink, but there are white-flowered varieties also.

  • last month

    I would consider a Bracken magnolia. It should be evergreen in your zone.

  • last month

    Given the size of the yard, even a 'small' tree is going to take up a lot of space - particularly one that branches a lot at window level. So there are some fundamental decisions you need to make. In no particular order

    • Large shrub planted in front of the dining room window. Currently, this seems to be a design no-no because it 'hides the front of the house'. It does do the job, and eats up the least yard, if that is important. It has to be shade tolerant. Fifty years ago, it would be a honking big rhododendron.
    • Small tree planted further out from the dining room window. To get a branching structure that gives privacy to the window, the tree is going to have a lot of mass at eye level. It is also probably going to get even wider as it ages, giving a future dilemma of possibly having to butcher a magnificent specimen to access the driveway and front door.
    • Replacing the arborvitae with something smaller and more manageable. Given the size of the yard, this strikes me as the most practical idea. It could be a mixed border, and since presumably it isn't in the shadow of the house, could include some conifers.

    If you are set on a tree, I'd recommend being open to moving the walk. Photoshop is notorious for messing with perspective, and making it look like there is room for things that aren't going to fit outside of a TARDIS.

  • last month

    oh yes we ysed to have rhododendrons and yews in front of the house that we also didnt know how to take care of and they grew out if control. i opted for the beds with catmint, boxwood and limelight hydrangeas in behind that you cant see but will grow tall. maybe we shouldve included a tree like you suggested, and our neighbors have, and i have admired!! but i do like our current plantings and they are only a year old.


    i like the idea of putting a small garden close to the street, in front of the right side of house (facing it), with mixed evergreens and shrubs for full year blocking from our dining room. i would love to see if anyone has ideas for that.


    and maybe adding a flowering tree somewhere on the left side.






  • last month

    Personally, I think you can "block" the street with some nice large flowering bushes on the drive way side of the yard, and a pretty tree, Crabapple, cherry, peach on the other.


    This would block the street with distraction, rather than block as not being able to be seen. With the bushes near the street (driveway side) and a flowering plant garden within the arch of the side walk, when you look out the window you would see the plantings not the street. The large bushes and tree would visually give a boarder to the flower garden


    This would work unless there are so many cars that you are trying to hid the cars on the street.

  • last month

    I have a large Bloodgood in front of my house, we always loved it. It is a robust tree and in Zone 7a/b NJ in leaf from late April through November, though leaves turn scarlet red in November. I also have a variety of Southern Magnolias, but these are huge, dominating and create year round shade, I would not want them in front of the house.

  • last month

    Would somethinglike this make sense? so we would have year round block of the road from our dining room with some flowering ppants in spring? forgive my lack of iscape skills, just want to see what you allthink of this idea.