Crime Committed…Nosey Neighbors

Nosy NeighborsNeighbors are great!  Let’s face it, we have all had to borrow eggs, milk or sugar from time to time, and I love to share landscape tips or plant cuttings.  I will  gladly take care of their pets and plants when they’re out of town.  Getting to know your neighbors helps keep neighborhoods safer and just makes for a better community.  However; no matter how much you love your neighbors, do you really want to see them 24-7?

Most people live in subdivisions that have neighbors on all three sides and sometimes they feel close enough to reach out and touch.  A privacy fence can only provide so much privacy and what is it they say....good fences make good neighbors!!!!!!  First thing in the morning I just love to sit out on my patio, and yes, I still have my jammies on, drink coffee and read the morning paper. The last thing I want to do is get dressed.... just in case the neighbor from the two story house wants to say good morning.  That’s where plants come to the rescue.

I am going to show you how landscaping can completely change the environment of your backyard just by adding plants. And let's face it; no one wants to look at an ugly old wooden fence.  And any landscape improvements made will only increase the value of your home.

A few issues to consider when planning your fence line landscape are:


First decide how much privacy you need.  If you live with a two story home behind you then you will need plants that will grow 20’ tall or more. Or maybe the two story house is off to one side or the other like this example.  Then use taller trees in those areas. However, if you have a one story home than use plants that get 12’ tall.  The homes seen from this backyard are both a one-story and a two-story home, but the house directly behind is a one-story home.

This design will need plants that will get around 15’ tall.  Of course we want to install evergreen plants.  Remember, evergreen plants are plants that keep their leaves year around, this will also provide privacy year around. Use trees to block certain views, like the windows on the neighboring homes.

By strategically placing plants you are able to create the privacy you seek by just adding three trees. Adding more trees will give greater privacy but it will also add several hundreds of dollars to your budget.


The second issue plant placement.  What is happening on your neighbor’s side of the fence will determine what happens on your side of the fence.  If your neighbor has planted trees or shrubs that will grow up and over the fence, than try to work around them.  There is no reason for both of you to install shrubs and trees that will compete for the same “air-space”.

Third issue to consider is how much space you have for landscaping.

If you have a backyard that is very shallow then there are a few possibilities to consider. There are several plants that grow quit tall without having a substantial footprint, which allows you to add additional plants to your landscape area.

The Italian Cypress tree is narrow and tall and will get about 35’ tall and 4’ wide.  This tree is rather slow growing but if limited space is an issue than it is a good choice. This plant is an evergreen plant which is a must if you want privacy year around.  Another plant that has a narrow profile is the Sky Pencil Holly. This plant will only get about 12-15’ tall and about 3’ wide; however, it is much faster growing than the Italian Cypress.  The only downfall to using these plants is that you will need several to provide a “wall of privacy”.   If you have a space of 80' you will need 20 of either the Italian Cypress or the Sky Pencil Holly.

Depending on the size you buy, this can get rather expensive with larger sizes costing several hundred dollars each. By choosing a Multi-Trunk Ligustrum you will only need 5.


Most of the evergreen trees like the Ligustrum are much faster growing and will provide a solid screen in a much shorter time period.  Crape Myrtles are also a good use, although not an evergreen tree, they will provide coverage for several months of the year and have great summer color and fall foliage.

You can use a combination of both.  It's best not to use more than two different types of trees or get too “cutsie” with the patterns.

Use the Ligustrum Tree in the center and the Crape Myrtles on the side.

I added Crape Myrtles on the sides for color in the summer months and great fall color.  If privacy is an issue, than I would continue with the Ligustrum trees up the sides of the fence.


In this design I used the Multi-Trunk Ligustrum tree to provide a solid screen or a “wall effect” from the neighbors.

I don't know about you, but I would much rather look at this beautiful landscaping instead of an ugly old fence. And hey, if you want to visit your neighbors..... well can always borrow something!