Faster growing than a hedge and cheaper than a fence, container plantings provide beauty and seclusion to your outdoor living area. Pot up a privacy wall and enjoy the intimacy it brings to any garden room.
Strategies for Creating Privacy
Hedges and fences typically form a solid wall of separation, but that is not always necessary to create a sense of privacy. A few well-placed containers might be all you need to shield your front porch from nosy neighbors or infuse your back patio with a sense of solitude. Gardeners can use one of two general approaches to create privacy: screening or distraction.
Screens are essentially living walls, but when it comes to screening views, we don’t always need a solid wall of greenery to create the privacy we need. Nor must a living wall be taller than a person. The height and density of a screen can vary depending on how much enclosure is desired. A series of columnar Diamond Spire® Gardenia, for example, spaced along the edge of a patio creates physical separation between garden rooms as well as a semi-enclosed screen. Plants with a more open architecture like tall grasses can also be used to create a thin, veiled screen. The closer containers are spaced the more complete the enclosure.
On the other hand, sometimes a solid wall is exactly what you want. Here is where broader shrubs like Red Diamond™ Midsize Loropetalum and Coppertop® Sweet Viburnum work well. Not only do these shrubs have a wide reach—meaning you don’t need many to cover a lot of space—their evergreen foliage also provides color (and privacy) all year long. While container grown plants might not grow as large as ground-planted specimens, they will certainly bring plenty of height and breadth to shelter your patio.
The Art of Distraction
Sometimes all we need to shift the viewer’s eye is something interesting to observe. The concept of distraction is rather straightforward. We use this strategy in the garden all the time to draw attention away from less desirable views. With this approach, you want to create a focal point that either stops viewers from looking past the container planting or redirects their gaze. This can be achieved using showy plant material such as Canna Cannova® Yellow Lily or Cape Town™ Coral Tecomaria. The bold foliage and vibrant blooms of these tropical plants certainly capture the viewer’s attention.
Plants with strong forms like Oakland® Holly provide strong focal points to direct the eye and bring a more formal aesthetic to the garden. Hollies are also evergreen, providing privacy year-round. Lower-growing plantings can also be used to create a distraction. For example, you might stop people for looking through your front windows by setting a trio of Royal Hawaiian® ‘Waikiki’ Colocasia or Design-A-Line™ Cordyline in the foreground.
Playing with Color
Another benefit of using potted plants for your screening needs is the fabulous color combinations you can create with containers. No passerby will notice you reading on the porch when there is a peacock blue container bursting with vibrant pink Delta Fusion™ Crapemyrtle blooms distracting their view. Mix and match flowering perennials with upright shrubs for the perfect ornamental screen.
In addition to privacy, these approaches to screening can be used for space-making throughout the garden. A container here or there can easily separate an unsightly work area from the leisure spaces in your garden. And you can change them out from year to year to keep the garden looking fresh each season.