By Ken Lain, The Mountain Gardener, Watters Garden Center
December is the time to plant privacy screens for maximum growth and seclusion in spring.
Without strategically placed evergreens in the yard, it can feel as if prying eyes are looking right into your home. Not only does your privacy seemingly disappear, but that neighbor’s debris pile can be on view.
Simply plant a living wall of trees and shrubs to block an undesirable view and create the privacy you desire. Enable enjoyable hot tub sessions without prying eyes from that too-close-for-comfort neighbor. The solution to these unwanted invasions is not rocket science.
Now is planting season for fast-growing trees and shrubs to maximum roots critical for a living wall next spring. Here is an excellent example of an “evergreen and gold” hedge of golden euonymus.
To successfully add evergreens to a landscape, several essential steps are worthy of your time and energy.
The most crucial requirement for trees to thrive is drainage. Blend one shovel full of mulch into every three shovels full of native earth to pack around each root. Feed new plants with plant food right after planting. Lastly, deep soak each plant with a solution of compost tea to encourage new roots that grow deep and strong.
When you’re ready to choose the trees for your living wall of green, read through these popular choices of local screening plants that fill in fast.
My favorite native evergreen screener is the Arizona cypress. It is like a giant alligator juniper in size and color but grows faster and fills in more thoroughly than other screening plants. Growing to more than 20-feet tall and 12-feet wide in just a few years, you can see why this is the No. 1 choice for a planted screen.
Very cold-hardy, this spruce is the perfectly symmetrical Christmas tree shape. Excellent choice for a front yard holiday tree or as a semi-formal accent in a large yard. It makes a pretty evergreen background against contrasting foliage colors, flowering shrubs or highlighting autumn leaves.
Line up several for a windbreak or to quickly diffuse lights and sounds along busy streets.
This is the largest screening plant, growing to over 50-feet tall and 20-feet wide. It is one of the fastest-growing of the screens, growing 2 to 3 feet every year. This cedar thrives on low water use, drought conditions and drip irrigation, as with most upright evergreens.
Make sure to give it plenty of growing space because with its long, swooping branches of Arizona Blue foliage, this tree is going to need it.
Let’s look at the juniper family. Spartan, Blue Point and Wichita are especially good here. Juniper forests surround us, so be assured junipers are naturals to add to a landscape. Whichever color and height you like, all grow well in this part of the world.
This is a handsome evergreen tree with a densely branched conical form when young that becomes umbrella-shaped with age. Needles are long and dark green. These pines tolerates poor soils and harsh, drying winds. A great conifer for windbreaks or large landscape specimens.
There are many more choices, such as the larger evergreen shrubs and deciduous trees like aspens. Still, we’ll discuss those varieties another time.