Article Name: Privacy Fences - Living Protection
Article Date: 1/11/2011
CID News Articles

Privacy fences are often an essential feature of the urban or suburban yard, and they may even play a role on some rural landscapes. Privacy fences work in both directions. Firstly, they screen out unpleasant external sights and sounds that would otherwise impinge upon the senses. Secondly, privacy fences screen your movements from the prying eyes of neighbors.

It isn't a question of needing to "hide" anything behind privacy fences. It's just that few of us want to live under a microscope. Even good neighbors don't enjoy feeling obligated to wave "Hello" every time they step outside, as if needing permission before continuing on their business. "Good fences make good neighbors" is an old adage made famous by Robert Frost's poem, Mending Wall. And whether referring to boundary lines or privacy fences, it is just as valid today as ever.

Just don't take privacy "fence" literally. For a privacy fence does not have to be a hardscape fence, although hardscape privacy fences do hold an advantage over their softscape counterparts on two points:

  1. Speedy results: building wooden or vinyl privacy fences and masonry walls furnishes instant privacy. You will have to wait for plants to grow high enough to provide privacy.
  2. Maintenance: well-built privacy fences or walls will rarely need to be tended to. Plants, by contrast, need to be watered, weeded, etc.

Nonetheless, planting "living-wall" privacy fences is often preferable to erecting masonry walls or wooden or vinyl fencing. Bamboo hedges, for example, commonly serve as such living-wall privacy fences (see my FAQ on bamboo plants for more information). Privacy fences composed of plants -- whether maintained as hedges or deployed less formally -- enjoy a number of advantages over their hardscape counterparts, including:

  • Cost.
  • Their beauty in terms of color, form and texture.
  • Seasonal variation in some cases, ranging from spring flowers to autumn foliage.
  • Fruit production in some cases, which can attract birds or even be edible for humans.
  • The shape of some shrubs can be controlled by pruning, effectively rendering them works of art (hedges).
  • Zoning restrictions don't apply to "living walls" as frequently as to hardscape walls.



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