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How to Grow Deck Privacy and Enclosure

Oct 12, 2007
Plants can be used to create a measure of privacy and enclosure and in doing so a homeowner makes a practical investment and a design statement at the same time.

Plants grow; fences and walls do not. Because of this, privacy plantings make good sense. It's possible to start with small plants and wait for them to grow and mature or else invest in several large plants to block critical areas. Smaller plants can then be strategically placed where waiting for a living screen to mature is not such a necessity.

Trees, shrubs and other plants can create a softer look than fences and walls which might create friction with neighbors. Plantings remove the possibility that the neighbors will not like seeing the back side of a fence.

Once the decision has been made to plant a screen it is necessary to consider how much privacy is needed on the deck. If year round and total privacy is required, evergreens provide the best results. These plants shed their foliage discreetly all year long instead of dropping leaves all at one time. However, many evergreens grow at a slower rate than deciduous plants. If seasonal privacy is the choice, plant deciduous species. The screening ability of these plants increases in spring and summer when they bear leaves. It decreases in autumn and winter when foliage falls. The structure of deciduous plants even without leaves forms a visible barrier that can define space.

Some tree species feature multiple trunks that lend themselves extremely well to separating areas and creating a sense of enclosure. Deciduous trees allow winter sun to warm the deck and permit sunlight to reach inside the home. Mixing evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs together can give a homeowner the best of both worlds.

There are many tree species to choose from to plant beside or within the deck. Even a small tree that matures at 10 to 20 feet in height provides a measure of shade and creates the feeling that the area is people-sized. When planting new trees beside the deck choose a species that matures at 30 feet or less. They will spread a generous high domed canopy over the outdoor deck space. These trees will define the upper limit of the outdoor ceiling, filter sunlight, offer a sense of protection and through their size create a sense of stability.

Make a point to trim the lowest branches of mature trees to allow a minimum of 6 feet clearance so family members and guests may easily walk under them without any problem. Consider hardwood varieties that do not drop messy fruit, branches or twigs. Make certain to avoid planting too close to any paved surface which tree roots can cause to buckle. Position trees where views will be framed rather than blocked. Place them where they will protect the home from summer sun as well as winter winds. Good deck species feature neat and trim silhouettes that ideally suit confined spaces.

Include a variety of trees and create a landscape that is aesthetically pleasing and at the same time provides a haven for wildlife all year long. Choose trees that thrive in local conditions and climate. Visit local nurseries and ask for advice from their experts. In the long run this bit of research will go a long way in avoiding costly mistakes. Although trees do offer a sense of overhead enclosure and shelter, under certain circumstances it may still be necessary to augment such leafy canopies with an umbrella or gazebo over intimate dining areas.

Vines are another plant consideration in creating privacy and enclosure. They add leafy layers and colorful blossoms to trellises, arbors, pergolas and their support posts. These plants have a wonderful way of softening the hard edge of an overhead structure. Plant vines at the base of posts and allow them to grow up and over the deck. Place them in containers that are sized to allow for proper growth. Use quick growing varieties such as trumpet vine, virginia creeper and clematis to provide a quick umbrella. Leafy canopies offer pleasant, dappled shade to those below. Some vines offer green foliage all year long while others lose their leaves in autumn allowing the warmth of the sun to reach the home interior during colder winter months.

The quest to create privacy and enclosure with plants in and around a deck is a challenge that any homeowner can easily meet through research, the use of expert advice and using their own observations and imagination to create an aesthetically appealing outdoor deck space that will meet the needs of all who use it.
About the Author
Richard Vande Sompel is a professional deck builder of 35 years and over 850
decks built and is the author of "How to Plan, Design and Build a Deck from
Start to Finish". To Discover More About
Deck Privacy and Enclosure and Claim your 2
FREE Deck Plans, Insider Report, MP3 Audio and discover everything to know about
building a deck visit:
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