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Jan 17, 2014, 10:27 AM
Privacy Plants
We live in southeast Texas, and have about an acre back yard. Neighbor is using his property to store piles of stone, scrap and work trucks. We want to block the view, and will need fast growing tall bushes or trees that are not unsightly and that will add to our view. Suggestions? We want to put in a flat stone outdoor patio with a fire pit, but don't want to look at his "collection".
Jan 17, 2014, 10:47 AM
Some questions first, please...

Is the border with the storage neighbor an entire acre on one side? If not, what are the approximate dimensions?

Would you consider something temporary other than or in addition to fast growing bushes and trees? Even as fast as they might grow, it will take awhile for bushes and trees to become established. As a temporary alternative, you could use annuals or perennials which will grow faster and provide coverage this year.

What is your soil like? Is it clay or sand or a good loam mixture? Has it ever been amended? Is there anything growing there now? This would make a difference not only for short term screening but also the viability of long term blockage and plant sustainability.

My little knowledge of the SE Texas area is limited to the Harlingen areas, which as I remember were somewhat tropical. Your specific USDA hardiness zone would help in determining which plants, bushes and trees will thrive in your specific area.

Or see http://aggie-horticulture.tamu...atives/hardiness.htm.

Are you willing and/or can you afford to create trellises, or something like living walls? These would provide screening this year.

Last, #1, not on the specific subject you raised but do you have a code enforcement division in your community? The description of this property sounds like what would generally be considered blight, if not a junkyard.

Last #2, is your property zoned residential? It sounds as if this neighbor is using the yard for commercial storage, which might be prohibited under the zoning laws. It also sounds as if there's a business being operated from the site, which also may violate zoning laws.
Jan 17, 2014, 07:40 PM
Thanks for the reply. The area is a straight line about 300 feet long, property is separated by a barbed wire fencing. And we are rural, no residential property requirements. He does have a business, concrete and demolition, which is what is usually put back there. This is our backyard, and is the back of his acreage. He stores a couple dump trucks and a few piles of broken concrete, or stone or brick, things like that. I think it's junky only because I want to sit in the back and look at "country" not his stuff. We thought about Oleanders, but I'm leery about the "toxic" plants. Our soil is clay back there. Level is up, so drainage is good. Any suggestions?
Jan 18, 2014, 11:15 AM
I live in North Texas and have the same problem, except I'm in suburbia and live in a neighborhood without code enforcement and must live with next-door neighbors who collect scrap metal and have a backyard full of trash and weeds. I tried planting a long hedge row of red-tip photinia only to find out later this once-terrific plant has a virus problem that spreads from one plant to the next and have now lost more than half of them. I am thinking about using eleagnus next, as I've read it's a high-quality plant and reaches the height/width I'm looking for, which is 8-10' tall and +- 4 feet wide. I'm also considering planting fast-growing (up to 3'per year) hybrid crape myrtles every 20-30 feet to add extra concealment to the "trash dump" next door and to add a little interest and color.
Jan 18, 2014, 02:22 PM
I feel your "neighbor" pain! Red Tips were one of the plants I was leaning toward, thanks for the heads up on that. I may go the crepe myrtle route. They grow well here. We have our driveway lined with them and I didn't think about those. Thanks for the info and good luck with your situation!

This message has been edited. Last edited by: crwellbrock,
Jan 18, 2014, 04:56 PM
I can certainly understand both your positions. I wouldn't want to see a pile of concrete or junk either. OTOH, if the concrete guy was creative, he'd use the concrete for paths, garden borders or beds, and create a nice good neighbor view at the back of his yard.

As to Oleanders and other toxic plants: they would be of concern if you have children or pets. But I respect your position not to use them. The plants you referenced are not ones with which I'm familiar, and I suspect they're generally Southern plants. So my suggestions are based on my experience in SE Michigan as well as some research I did for Texas plants.

A. I think I would plant a mixture of fast growing plants, such as annual or perennial vines for quick coverage, as well as shrubbery and trees which would eventually provide complete blockage of the neighbor's yard. If you plant annual vines, they won't take up permanent space for the shrubs and trees once you decide on and plant them.

By creating your own flowering garden, you not only block the junk but create a pleasant view for your backyard lounging.

B. You could also use trellises, or actually just grow plants up on the fence. One caveat: I don't know much about the plants you and Reeree have mentioned as to my knowledge they're not common where I live, so I don't know how heavy they might get. I've used fences as bases for vining plants and never had any problem with bending but my climbing plants were lightweight.

1. Vines:

Fast-growing vines for Texas and more
fast growing Texas vines

Vines for hot climates is another source.

I've used morning glories, sweet peas, honeysuckle, climbing roses, grapes and plan to incorporate ivies. These are all easy to grow. Other than black spot on roses, I've had no problems growing them. Clematis and wisteria are viners also. Roses would present a beautiful cover screen.

David Austin climbing roses are the ultimate for rose lovers, but the knock-outs are popular too and from what I've read are quite easy to grow.

I didn't find a good source for climbing knock-outs, but I do know that there are some climbers within this variety.

Jackson & Perkins has a good selection of beautiful climbers, just to get an idea of the range of the climbers.

Grapes are another possiblity for vining plants; they are aggressive growers in Michigan. You would have to ensure that they vine on the fence and not the ground as they send out runners very prolifically. And they grow rapidly. Squashes, pumpkins and cucumbers can also be trellised like vines, running the longer vines up and back down so that the fruit when set is closer to the ground (unless you want to create platforms on which the fruit can rest, as some gardeners do). However, unless you test the soil to ensure there's no contamination from the neighbor's junk, I would grow only ornamentals just to be safe.

Ivies provide a thick mat of growth. They can literally climb all over each other and still thrive.

Silver lace vine (polygonum aubertii) is a beautiful, lacy flower which grows very aggressively here and I imagine would probably be even more aggressive in a year round growth zone. However, I believe it is considered invasive and banned in some states. I haven't checked to see if that includes Texas.

2. Foliage: Elephant ears are massive growers (look at the third photo in the link) and from what I've read will reach these large sizes in the first growing season, especially in a hot climate. They provide coverage for a wider area than the vines.

Large leaved foliage is another option; they'll take up large spaces and minimize the number of plants you need. Rodgersia and Gunnera have large leaves. Gunnera leaves can be massive. I wouldn't consider the Mulleins for your purpose; my experience with them is that they can be about 4' tall but don't create much of a spread.

3. Bushes ahd shrubs: There's a category of large plants aptly called Jurassic plants, but I can't find the link I wanted right now.

Texas shrubs might be of help, as might Native Texas Plants.

4. Trees: I haven't searched for quick growing trees, but you could Google that subject. Texas A & M has good information on Texas gardening as well; I would look to a source like that or a local agricultural extension services. Growing native plants would identify those best for your respective areas.

The only fast growing tree with which I've had experience is poplar in the neighbor's yard, which after it grew to about 50+ feet deteriorated and collapsed across my garden. I would never have poplars!

Most of the trees with which I'm familiar wouldn't provide coverage near the base and would need understory plantings. Evergreens would provide low as well as high coverage but I don't know any that are fast growers. Again, I think these are long term plantings but that you could use short term plants while the trees are growing and providing more permanent blockage of the neighbor's yard.

Hope this helps.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
Jan 18, 2014, 05:43 PM
It does a great deal. Thank you for all the info and the links. Much appreciated.
Jan 18, 2014, 06:02 PM
As you can tell, I LOVE plants and gardening!

Did some check checking since my mind is now on my own spring garden and found the site listing Texas invasive plants.

It doesn't list one of my favorite vines, the Polygonum Aubertii. I've also discovered there's a Lemon Lace variety in a pale lemon color. Now I have another plant to add to my spring list.

I think the foliage is more lemony than the flower. Still, it's a lovely flower.

I've read that this vine can grow from between 15 and 25 feet per year.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
Jan 19, 2014, 10:19 AM
Few things I just remembered.

If the fence is on the property line, and if you do plant vines, you might want to to let the junkyard neighbor know that you'll be doing so. Some people don't want anything growing on a fence, and he might just pull down the plants. Even though it's his mess, you never know how he'll react.

On the coverage issue, living walls, of which this is just one example, are a very intensive method of creating complete blockage of adjoining properties. They are a lot of work to establish though.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
Jan 19, 2014, 03:07 PM
Got it, although, I doubt he even would notice!