Gracious garden screening

  • Written by Molbaks garden+home

When someone says, “screening plants” what comes to mind? Tall, fast-growing hedges, planted to block the view of your neighbor’s garbage cans? Thickets of prickly barberry bushes, preventing man and beast from running across your lawn?

Screening plants aren’t just for privacy or windbreaks; well-placed screening plants can also frame or enhance a view. Some create a veil of greenery during certain times of the year. Others, with correct positioning, can discourage traffic and encourage it along a different path. And still more can create garden rooms with living, semi-transparent walls, offering a tranquil retreat.

When deciding on plants for screening or barrier plantings, ask the following questions:

1) Do I want year-round or seasonal screening?
2) What size plants do I need — height and width?
3) What is the growth rate, how dense is the foliage and, how much maintenance will my screening require?
4) What conditions will my plants grow in?

When planting for privacy, traditional hedging like English laurels and arborvitaes are privacy workhorses that are fast-growing and robust. At Molbak’s, we also encourage gardeners to branch out with creative, colorful screening plants and designs. Broadleaf evergreen bloomers like camellias, rhododendrons and scented Mexican oranges create an easy-care backdrop, accented with colorful flowers. Mix up varieties with different bloom-times to add ever-changing color and fragrance.  

Conifers like pines, yews, junipers and cedars are a go-to choice for boundary screening, and grow in countless colors and silhouettes. Try grouping different varieties of hinoki cypress, with their fans of foliage in shades of vibrant plum, jade, and gold, to create an eye-catching combination.

Barrier plantings for security and traffic don’t need to be boring! Spiky barberries sport brilliant leaves in colors that change throughout the season, and grow in an array of heights and shapes. English and blue hollies, with their red berries, discourage traffic with prickly leaves in green, blue and green and cream. Plant shorter varieties under windows for security or create a colorful hedge that says “STOP” with style.
Another creative solution is to screen from above. Place a trellis or arbor and plant with evergreen clematis or English ivy. For summer screening, fragrant climbing roses or wisteria bring the added bonus of blossoms to perfume your garden room.

When planting you can follow the traditional path of lining up plants, but if you have room, staggering plants of various heights, colors, and silhouettes creates a border that offers privacy and visual interest.

Berms add another barrier; top with screeners and decorate the sides with low-growing plants.
If your screening plants are in containers on a patio or deck, consider wheeled bases, so you can move them as your privacy needs change.

At Molbak’s we carry everything you need to create gracious, garden screening. Browse our selection of broadleaf blooming evergreens, traditional hedging, colorful conifers, barberries and blossom-laden vines as well as arbors, trellises and patio containers, big and small.

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