Vegetative Screens for Privacy
When I first walk into a new yard with very little landscaping, the first thing I assess is the amount of privacy the landscape provides. If the homeowner would like a bit more in the way of obstructions of the neighbor’s view of their yard I will roll through an index of plants of various shades and heights that can be used as a vegetative screen for privacy.
Tall evergreens are the first order of establishing a good screen for year round privacy. My first go-to suggestion would be the Compact Cherry Laurel. It’s hardy, drought tolerant once established, has a nice lime green color to the leaves and grows relatively quickly in just about any type of soil. The cherry laurels pictured below were planted with a good layer of thunderdirt to start but are now growing in solid clay. There’s a sub-surface drip hose that waters the roots once/week for about 40 minutes but I’m relatively certain that I could cut the water supply completely and they’d survive on their own. They wouldn’t necessarily grow but they’d survive.
Another nice evergreen tree I like to use for screens is the Little Gem Magnolia. I like the combination of Compact Cherry Laurels and Little Gem Magnolias placed side by side.
I chose to break up the pattern of this evergreen screen by inserting a Texas Redbud on the corner. It will provide nice color in the spring and is pretty delightful in full bloom.
Finally, I chose a Texas Live Oak for the completion of the screen. It provides shade in the summer and does a great job of filling in some space.
Other suggestions would include the Texas Mountain Laurel. A slow grower but once established it’s just about bullet proof. It is susceptible to web worms in the fall and spring but that’s a small price to pay when it rewards you with its intoxicating blooms in early spring. And, the worms usually don’t do much damage so in general I don’t mess with them.
Saw palmettos would fall into the very slow-growing evergreen category but do a great job of serving as an understory screen. Yaupon Hollys are native trees that look great in just about any setting and fit the bill as one of the more xeric trees/shrubs you can buy. Sweet Bay Laurels are another relatively slow-growing evergreen but a great option if you have the patience. Also, if you don’t mind losing some of the leaves during harder winters consider semi-evergreen Anacuas, Mexican (Monterrey) oaks, and Possumhaw Hollys.