PLEASE HELP Large area to hide

Wayne, NE

My boyfriend decided to buy us a house...First this house has to be completely gutted and remodeled HOWEVER this half an acre has a "junk yard" to the north and the west of it. Somehow I have to hide this....I need suggestions for something relatively cheap to hide it with and plant flower beds throughout the yard I am a zone 4 and have no ideas. Theses pictures were taken when the junk trees were still growing. These trees--all volunteers were growing through the 6 foot wire fence. Behind this is old falling apart trailer houses, old vehicles etc as soon as it warms slightly I will be able to get additional pictures to better describe.

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(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

Oh boy you have quite a project there. But you've come to the right place. I not sure what will work best in ypur zone, but plenty of people on DG have expertise in your area and I'm sure will be glad to help.

Do you have a feeling/ color scheme/ favorite plant list in mind? Do you want a cottage type garden, or a prairie feeling, or classic English border? Or?

Probably you should focus first on the screening around the perimeter of the property. Once you get that mapped out you can begin to plan the locations and plant materials for your flower beds. Native wild flowers, tall grasses and other informal plants could be toward the outer edges where they could naturalize and require little care, and more 'refined' plantings could be closer to the house where you could give them more attention. Or maybe you would prefer dense shrubs or tall trees? Or both?

So many choices, such a great project for the new year! I can't wait tosee what comes next!


Wayne, NE

I think for now I am more focused on the screening and over time work on flower beds. As you say it's a rather large project and really a never ending one. There are soooo many choices for plants etc . If I had won the lottery a large privacy fence would go in and I could devote everything to just flower beds but in reality LOL

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

You do have a very large area to think about there!

You might want to look at Landscaping photos in the former photo contests here at DG. They may give you some ideas as to what you would like. Just copy each photo that appeals to you:

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

I know what you mean about reality! I've been working on a giant restoration project for quite a while now, spent years just wiping out invasive weeds. I've become pretty adept at seed starting and other kinds of propagation as well as haunting sales and participating in trades and coops to get more plant material. I've learned so much just in the 2 years I've been a member of DG- This forum is a graduate course in all areas of horticulture if you stick with it!

Are the volunteer trees still there? Would it make sense to leave them for now to help hide the junk and plant in front of them for extra density?

Also, do you know anything yet about what kind of soil you have? It doesn't look very substantial from these pictures, but it's hard to tell. Has the yard been mowed? It looks like the whole area gets plenty of sun, is that correct?

Tall grasses are inexpensive and beautiful, fill in fast, and don't require much care. They can be left high over the winter and only cut back in the spring when the active growth period starts. That might be a good starting point, then add other things as you go along.

Another possibility is privet. Also very inexpensive, undemanding, and fast- growing. It might take a little longer to get going, but becomes wonderfully dense and tall and is nearly evergreen.

I'm sure others will chime in with more suggestions soon...


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(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

We cross posted-- great idea, Pirl!

Wayne, NE

This property has sat empty for quite some time is my understanding. The volunteer trees were growing through the wire of the fence so everything on our property side has been cut ground level where we could or whatever growth was on out side of the fence. Sale wasn't finalized until late this fall so I really have no clue what kind of dirt I have. From the looks of it it isn't real good healthy dirt as appears to be fill dirt. The yard is a mixture of grasses and weeds. As far as sun yes it is pretty open there so pretty much full sun.

Houston Heights, TX(Zone 9a)

I dont understand why you cut down all the trees and now you have to replace them with something to do the job they were doing quite well or so it looks from the photos???

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Perhaps it looks different in winter, but I am not seeing what you are trying to hide.

I Leave the existing trees; they are already adapted to your dirt & location and are doing fine. If they have been removed (I'm unclear on that, too), there are numerous hedge plants you could choose from. Do you want to attract wildlife? Birds? Have an edible hedge? Something that blooms?

For a cheap, fast growing, evergreen screen, it's hard to beat arborvitae and these are available in various mature sizes. You can usually pick them up here for under $10 each.

I deal constantly with privet, which is very invasive. The birds freely resow and is very hard to kill. It comes up everywhere and it's ugly, IMO. I wouldn't suggest anyone plant it deliberately; you are just giving yourself a headache in the future.

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

I think privet is another one of those zone specific plants. In zone 5 it's used extensively for privacy screening and behaves well enough. The root system is greedy, but in my old yard I trenched along it every couple of years behind a perennial garden. It didn't interfere with lawn, trees,or shrubs.

Wayne, NE

Sorry these are very blurry pictures as took pictures of them off of a video I had but this is what it looks like after leaves have fallen. There is an old trailer and an old maybe once storage shed, piles of metal etc I have considered lilacs however where I currently live they seem to like to grow everywhere from root. The random trees have been taken out so as not to take the fence down which in itself running the chainsaw down the side of the chain link fence in some places was quite a feat in itself. I am not purposely trying to attract birds however I do enjoy watching them. Blooming would be a bonus but not necessary.

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Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

Little....hey there I'm going to take a guess and those trees are probably elms? Yup, if they are, get rid of them as they are nothing but weeds in that stage. Could keep a few to mature and keep some shade going, but it looks as tho they were just left to seed about. Do you live on acreage or know of anyone that does?, (relative). The reason I ask is because every state has a tree program, it's offered thru the county extention office for people to get seedling trees and shrubs for a low price..usually .50 each, tho they are small, (but have to buy quantity), (you don't say what $$$ you have so am guessing a limited budget, lol, if not we got ALLL sorts of ideas.... If so, got bunches also, lol. Anyway back to the state plants....they are offered beginning next month and are ordered usually available in spring for pickup at county offices (usually the extension office, Give your county a call and get some info..soon.

Another great source if your on a budget is a place I've gotten some great plants from: It's mail order so all things would be bareroot and the most inexpensive way to go.

Work on a plan for your bones, (ie trees, shrubs and such), get them planted and then fill in with annuals and some perenns til things can grow and do what you would like: hiding the neighbors lot. We have a great group of people here at Dave's and will help come up with many ideas for you...Any gardening experience? I got seeds....
A few ideas for along the fence for a quick fix would be some annuals..Tall sunflowers (bushy), cosmos ( I have bags!!! of seed, just throw and water after you rototill the area. (Might wanna take roundup to the grasses in that area to kill off the vegitaion in e. spring.)
Could also spend some money on getting seed for morning glories along that fence, would be quick and cheap, note many of these ideas are for a quick fix to get things going, then will have time for planning or planting the rest of the area as you can.

Got more ideas..just give us more info.....and congrats on your new home!!!

Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

Sorry I reread your first, not on acreage..ooops.

Pix 1: My backyard in August, (yup, live in the country, my whole backyard was feild grasses)
Pix 2: After I began planting, Aug-Nov. Most of the plants (shrubs were bought at Home Depot, Lowes, and Direct Gardening. (spring-late fall clearnce sales).
Pix 3: Am filling in around shrubs that are planted in pix 2, with Iris and many many annuals come spring.

So what your doing....been there done that, lol... Kathy

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Holly Springs, NC(Zone 7b)

You've come to the right place! I suggest that you sink 75% of your budget into varieties of Arborvitae to begin screening that other lot. Don't plant them in one, straight row, and don't plant them too close to the fence. It'll take a couple of years for them to grow into 'great' screening, but they'll give you a good start on the project. In the meantime, I second the sowing of flowering vines such as morning glory, tall fillers such as sunflowers, and mid-to-lower color pop with annuals that will grow from seed tossed directly onto turned soil. Folks here on DG are very generous with seeds and small plants, often offering them for postage.

Keep us posted on your plans :)

Wayne, NE

Better pics There are two pics taken from the kitchen window and the other two that are more of an above shot were taken from upstairs window.

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Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Yeah, arborvitae. Thuja "Green Giant" will get tall enough to block that second story view in 5-7 years.

I this case, I think a row would be okay if you treat that as your fence and then landscape in front of it. Or, plant block of them where you have a view of the taller buildings and then work from there landscaping around them.

Wayne, NE

You guys don't think I will have to worry about winter wind burn with arborvitae? I have also thought about some sort of pine tree Any thoughts on that?

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Whups -- it seems the Green Giant I recommended is only hardy to zone 5. Perhaps one of the Thuja occidentalis would be a better fit for you. They should be hardy to zone 2. Perhaps one of the northern gardeners here can comment on the wind burn issue.

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

If you're not going for an evergreen, there's a lovely privet variety, the Amur Privet that is hardy in your zone and might work well for you. It can get to about 15' high and, wide, it gets pretty and fragrant flowers, and is a fast grower.

I was hoping Golden Privets would be an option, but your zone might be too low, judging by the openness of the area you're planning to plant.

MY GOODNESS, what potential you have to play with! =) (trying to keep it on the upside). =)

Perham, MN(Zone 3b)

I use arborvitae as a screen on both sides of my west central Minnesota home, and don't have problems with winter burn. The variety is "Techny." It does well in full sun to part shade - in fact, is more tolerant of some shade than other arbs. While I have a somewhat sheltered location (woods to the north and west) and an irrigation system, and keep my trees watered going into winter, as late as I can, I've seen this variety of arbs in other locations around the county where they're not perhaps quite so well watered, and they still don't seem to get winter burn. So I'd say you should be safe with this type. They grow fairly fast too, if you water and fertilize, and make an excellent backdrop for whatever you may eventually want to plant in front of them. I have a mental picture of some deciduous shrubs that have fun fall colors - they'd look spectacular, backed up by the evergreens - and maybe some tall ornamental grasses too. There are some wonderful switch grasses, for instance. Winterberries might do really well, with all that sunlight it looks like you might have there, and produce those great orange-red berries that cling on the bare grey branches right through to spring - so ornamental. And bird-friendly.

Your site may look kind of tough right now, but I think with all that space, you could turn it into a relative paradise over time, especially when the rains return. If I had another couple of decades in front of me, I'd take on your challenge in a heartbeat! So many possibilities!

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