The private retreat experience is a must when designing residential landscapes. Every landscape benefits from at least one space that feels safe, sheltered and secluded. For some homeowners, the privacy of a front gate or fence keeps the entire property a private space, while for others a garden nook with screening shrubs is enough. Screening goes both ways – a similar effect is created by blocking undesired views from the inside looking out as by blocking the outside looking in. Whatever your style, the result is a serene landscape where one can feel at home.
Fences are of course the go-to privacy screen for many homeowners. A five to six-foot fence is the key if you really want to block visibility. At the same time, creating privacy in the landscape is as much about the psychological impact as it is about the literal. This traditional lattice fence above demonstrates the power of suggestion in screening. Of course it’s see-through, and short! But it creates a clear delineation between interior and exterior, private and public. Sometimes it’s just the suggestion that matters (and other times a tall, opaque fence is the only way to go!)
Regardless of garden style, plants can be used for a privacy screen that doubles as an elegant backdrop for other plantings. In the image above, a traditional Pittosporum hedge screens the house and creates a lovely space for a shady garden vignette in front. While some modern architecture also embraces the hedge, a more natural effect can also be achieved with evergreen shrubs left to grow naturally. Pittosporum is a great choice, as is Privet, Juniper, and many of the newer Mediterranean climate species such as Bush Olive and Winter’s Bark.
Sometimes it’s not neighbors you need screening for, but a troublesome force of nature. If you live in a windy area, you know that it can be really annoying! Windbreaks like the one shown above are capable of taking a remarkable amount of wind, keeping the yard calm and serene except in the harshest gales. Here, the fence and plantings work together to create an effective barrier. For high wind areas, such as those near the ocean or in the hills, try layered windbreaks. Larger trees planted away from the house can slow and redirect wind as it approaches, while smaller screens like this one can protect the yard itself.
The best part of landscape screening is the effect from within your yard! Here, a casual screen of varied shrubs shelters the yard for a cozy feel, even in the vegetable garden. Plus, all views of the neighborhood have been screened, giving the amazing illusion of country living in the middle of the city. Here is a place where you can feel totally at home and able to be yourself, and that is really as good as it gets!
J. Montgomery Designs is all about the backyard retreat. We love creating spaces where you can relax, rejuvenate, and reconnect. If you’re looking to reimagine your space, we’d love to work with you! Contact our office and let’s talk possibilities.