your green screen: How to plan and avoid pitfalls as you plant for privacy

Robert Frost believed that ‘good fences make good neighbors.’ We’d add one caveat and say that beautiful green screen fences make even better neighbors…and even prettier views from our own backyard.

Whether you have a structural fence or not, a green screen or living wall—plants that create a barrier or visual break—can establish boundaries, act as a buffer for noise and wind, hide an unappealing view, soften the edges of wooden, cement or metal walls and fences and create a sense of intimacy and privacy. All while adding to the beauty and interest of your own outdoor space.

Some of Our Favorites

We love the look of arborvitae, many viburnum varieties, spruces and large hydrangeas. Take a look at some of your tree and shrub options.

Getting Started

1. Space

This is a project that might require a little homework. Before you begin you’ll want to assess your outdoor living space, viewpoints and goals. You can call us with questions, or we can come to you for an At-Home Consult to walk your space and help you make some decisions.

Measure your space to see what you have to work with and make choices that accommodate for the mature size of your plants so they don’t outgrow the space (i.e. right plant, right place). You’ll also want to make sure you allow for growth that won’t infringe on your neighbor’s space and/or talk with them first.

If all of this sounds like a little too much work, we’d be happy to plant for you! You can call us at (317) 733-4769 to talk through choices and add planting services to your order.

2. Exposure

Take note of the exposure throughout the day to determine how much full sun/shade your plants will be exposed to, then check the plant requirements or call or email us with any questions.

3. Evergreen or Deciduous?

Evergreen plants will act as a buffer, barrier and privacy year round. Deciduous plants will lose their foliage in late fall through winter. If space permits, we often recommend layering your plantings to accommodate for both. Many deciduous plants have beautiful shapes and colors throughout the winter.

4. Consider Vines

If you already have a fence, wall or structure in place (e.g. an arbor, pergola or trellis), you may want to consider fast-growing annual or perennial vines. Vines are characterized by the way they cling, with either twining stems, tendrils, adhesive disks or aerial roots. Twining stems and tendrils will wind or wrap around a support as they grow. Twining examples include bittersweet, wisteria and trumpet creeper. Examples of plants with tendrils include grapes, pea and cucumber. Plants with disc-like suction cups include Boston Ivy and Virginia creeper. And vines with small, aerial roots that attach to rough surfaces like brick or trees include English Ivy, trumpet creeper and wintercreeper euonymus. You can always call or email us to find an annual vine (lasts just one season) or perennial vine (lasts multiple seasons through the winter) that’s right for your space.

5. Create a Bed or Use Planters

If a planting bed doesn’t already exist, here’s how to get started. Remember, always call before you dig.

For edges of patios or as a way to mark off spaces or paths, consider planting your green screen in planters. You can use individual containers or a long planter, rustic trough or galvanized bin or tub. Check out some inspiration here and here.

6. Get Some Help

If all this is a bit confusing and you’re not sure what you’re looking for, give us a call (317) 733-4769 so we can talk things through and help you get started.

For even more one-on-one time to plan with a designer, schedule an At-Home Yard and Garden Consult. You’ll have time to talk about your goals, walk your space, get personalized recommendations on a plan and the plants to achieve it.

7. Gear Up

Gather the tools you’ll need to get the job done, including a shovel, soil amendment, Organic Plant Magic, mulch and the plant material of your choice.

8. Plant It Up

For help on how to plant and care for your plants (including watering, fertilizing and pruning) check out our Landscape Care Guide.

Enjoy your outdoor space this season.