Gardeners have long known the value of a good fence or hedge. Putting a barrier between your garden and the outside world creates calm and a place where you can socialize with friends or just settle in with a good book. It also creates a distinct perimeter to design within and a cozy sense of enclosure.
While this is a long-standing principal of design, it’s also a trend in gardening, especially as more homeowners view their backyards as an extension of the entertaining space in the living room. (I know, that’s a little hard to do with so much darn snow on the ground as we have now, but consider this lovely Rochester garden in July. What a great place to host a barbecue or quiet dinner with the family.)
While I love a borrowed view—when it is attractive—not all of us have neighbors who plant trees or create other beautiful spaces to enjoy from afar. That’s why enclosing a secluded garden space with a fence or a hedge plant is important for feeling comfortable in the garden. And, whether a fence or a hedge, make it tall! Putting in a 6-foot fence in my backyard last summer completely transformed my experience of the space. I couldn’t see my neighbors and they, I’m sure, were delighted not to see my back-side as I was weeding the gardens.
Fencing and hedges also creates a backdrop against which your other plants can pop. We chose a dark grayish color for the fence, and it makes the birch trees, winterberry and annuals that fill the 4 feet in front of the fence pop. Fences also give you a place to plant vines to add another vertical element and soften the fence edges.
Have a Seat
Once you create the secluded garden, be sure to add a place to enjoy it. An Adirondack chair or two, a chaise lounge, a small table with two chairs or even a larger patio space within the secluded area gives you a place to sit, to enjoy a cold beverage or just relax and take in the sounds of insects buzzing and the scents of flowers. In a secluded garden, you can sit and observe undisturbed.
Best Hedges for the North
If you do not want the look or expense of a fence, consider using plants to create a secluded garden space. You will need more width for a hedge, but on larger properties that’s no problem.
A traditional choice is a flowering shrub, such as lilac or dogwood, but these do not provide year-round seclusion. If you want something that has a fuller look, try a privet hedge. Among evergreens, arborvitae is a great choice for smaller yards because there are so many narrow options. But, if you had a larger yard, a mixed border with conifers would provide a beautiful green background for other plantings as well as privacy.