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carolyn_hogan6021127

shallow backyard landscaping for privacy ideas

last month

We bought a home a few years ago I need landscaping help with. Backing neighbors are on a slope, and with the existing deck flush with the ground level of the house, we are at eye level with each other when they are out in their garden. Fence is 7ft and as tall as it can be according to bylaws.

The space is 9.5ft width by 42ft length. We are leaning towards an emerald cedar privacy fence along the whole length of the fence with maybe a few low maintenance shrubs like hydrangeas for colour amounts the river rocks.

Wondering if there are any other options I’m not thinking of? Goal: low maintenance, privacy not outrageously expensive below are photos, and an some inspiration hedge that initially inspired me

Comments (22)

  • last month

    Colorado?

  • last month

    Ottawa Ontario zone 5B

  • last month

    You don't need a hedge, you need one or two trees placed correctly. Unless you are concerned about privacy in the winter (and it's not clear to me that anyone can see much in your windows from that distance), you can do one deciduous tree with a decent-sized crown. I'd pick a flowering tree. Hard to advise without knowing your zone.


    You have a tiny yard, so I'd go with fewer trees rather than a hedge. Since I'd probably put the tree in front of your stairs, you might have to move the stairs.

  • last month

    We need at least 9-10ft height for actual privacy but definitely important to trim once it gets to a certain height !

  • PRO
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I would just add a trellis to the top of the fence and grow some vines anything else will create an even narrower strip than you have now . How many times do you actually go to the fence and look over it . You live in a place where you have neighbours a fcat of life . The vines will give you summer privacy and I MO that is the only time it matters .BTW why not enlarge the deck since what you ahve looks impossible to use . I amsorry but those emerald cedairs are not the snaswer IMO unless you just give up iusing that space altogether .

  • last month

    Since your backyard is narrow, I'd choose a couple of hollies and limb them up so the trunks are bare and the branches start above the level of the fence (kinda like a pleached hedge effect).

  • last month

    Yes with the minimal timing needed, along with a neat look, are 2 big reasons for why I am leaning towards the emeralds! Would you recommend we go the entire length of the fence or just a portion? I have 2 hydrangeas currently I. Each corner and I really want to keep them. Would they be okay in front of the hedge?

  • last month

    There is no room in front of the hedge. If you do the arb hedge, that would be it.

  • last month

    What one would be best- the whole 42ft or leaving space at each end for the 2 hydrangeas ( leaving them in their existing places)

  • last month

    Or this look

  • PRO
    last month

    Perhaps?:


  • last month

    You could do something like this at the perimeter: https://www.houzz.com/photos/chelsea-nyc-rooftop-terrace-design-with-custom-cedar-planter-boxes-contemporary-deck-new-york-phvw-vp~29554065

    Or you could do something like this: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/139259813470549726/

    You could also do planter boxes off your deck railing or a potted tree or rose arbor at the strategic place. You put up an umbrella or a shade sail etc on your deck which would block your view.

  • 20 days ago

    Would anyone recommend decking the entire thing? the drainage swale you literally cannot do anything with the space and the deck feels really cramped. If we tore down the deck, and put interlock, we would definitely need a retaining wall, (also would be minimum $30k). I am totally open to suggestions and layout changes if you’re willing to offer!!! decking over it would be be maybe 5k in material and add to the usable living space, but your won’t get any colour or green. To add on to existing deck, definitely not bylaw approved but I don’t think the existing deck is bylaw acceptable either we do have a little patch of grass on the side yard- again we can’t go that for the front of the deck because of the drainage swale that pools up. If we extended, it would be 20x30 deck. Right now it’s 10x30

  • 20 days ago

    This is what I was thinking of if I extended the whole thing to the fence

  • 20 days ago

    Is the drainage swale where the hydrangeas are? I can't tell in the photo. Instead of building a deck which causes you to see over the fence, could you do a living space at the back fence (brick or cement patio) accessed by steps down from the house?

  • 20 days ago

    Yes hydrangeas are on the slope down and you can see the pit were it pools up. Our neighbors are also on a big slope. So we see them waist up when they are out!!! The last photo you can see the top of their bbq

  • 20 days ago

    I agree with the recommendation of a tree. We hired a landscape designer for our small courtyard since I had no idea how best to use the space. The tree is my favorite element but I’ve included photos here from several directions.

  • 19 days ago
    last modified: 19 days ago

    Carolyn Oliver - The scale of your planting drawing is off. Eventually, you will not have more than a couple of feet between your deck and the row of arborvitae. No room for a row of hydrangeas in the front. Let me explain.

    We have a somewhat narrow back yard (20' from our back porch to the fence line), so we put in an arborvitae hedge to eventually hide the side of our neighbors house from our living room and porch view. The arbs started out at 6' tall and 12" to 16" wide in October of 2021.


    Today (3 years later) the largest are 10.5' tall and 2.5" wide. The planting bed is 6' wide, but we expect the bush/trees to breach the width of the bed in the future. Based on having had them at another home, we expect the arborvitae to grow to at least to 15' high (hopefully 20') and spread to 4' wide (hopefully no more than that.)


    So based on your drawing, you should be planting your arborvitae at least 4' from the fence to give them room to grow. Once they are maturing, that does not leave you much room between your arborvitae and your deck.

    To answer your question about the hydrangeas and the arborvitae spacing, I like the idea of leaving the hydrangea on the corners. I also like the idea from gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9) in planting tall trunked trees that don't take up as much ground space.

    One other thing to note about our set up. After a year of growth, we decided to go back in and plant another row of arborvitae about 1.5" forward of the first row. Notice the smaller height trees in above photo.

    Reason #1 - We wanted more immediate privacy (the first row would not get wide enough, from side to side, for a few more years.

    Reason #2 - We realized that the first row was too close to the fence. The arborvitae started to breach through the fence last spring and we had to trim it back a little. That's something that we will have to continue each year. And once that first row gets too wide, we will probably remove them. The second row should be fine and will have filled in the side to side space nicely by then.



    So bottom line is that you need to leave plenty of space to get between the fence and the arborvitae to keep them trimmed. Assuming that the fence belongs to your neighbor, you will also need to keep it off of their fence.

  • 18 days ago

    Thank you your photos and directions are so clear as to why it’s not going to work as a solution!!!!! Greatly appreciate it

  • 16 days ago
    last modified: 16 days ago

    I was going to suggest bamboo in planters and see someone already linked that idea. The advantage is you can plant in tall planters and get several feet head start. Do research the types of bamboo regarding height, thickness and hardiness. Running bamboo has to be tightly contained but I read it is the fastest growing for privacy.







    looks like they had a concrete planter installed to give them a height head start and to contain the bamboo from spreading:



  • 16 days ago

    Another idea would be to build a screen like this. In most places you can get around the fence height restrictions because it's not a fence, but check your rules. You could hang baskets of flowers and it becomes a garden plant hanger. Notice they built upon a deck to raise it taller.