Natural Screens for your outside space
Why do you need screening?
For privacy and comfort. OK. But why natural screens?
With your own private place to sit and think about life the universe and everything, isn’t it natural to want to feel happy and content?
Screening is not just great for creating that feeling of seclusion. It can also help to frame a beautiful space and add to the design.
It doesn’t matter how much or how little space you have to create your piece of paradise outside your home.
What matters is that it reflects you and the way you want to feel when you sit in it. This lovely space needs to make you feel rested and content.
Keeping it natural through to the choice of screens is also good for the environment.
You may have walls that provide that screen. If so, great. Now all you have to do is soften the look with the addition of some plants growing up a trellis. Or paint it to add interest to the space.
If you don’t have screening in place already. What kind of screen do you want?
My personal preference? Definitely natural screening.
Natural Screens extend your planting scheme
Natural screens just seem so right in any scheme.
There’s definitely a place for fences to give privacy and to delineate your space from that of your neighbours. Softening that look with plants is a great way to add to your garden or patio scheme. It also allows you to put your own unique stamp on your garden.
Screening comes in all forms and price points.
Below are some of the more popular choices to give you food for thought.
Bamboo is a popular choice when it comes to choosing plant-based screening or windbreaks. It’s also useful grown in pots to give height to your planting scheme, especially in a smaller space.
Personally, I inherited a bamboo screen when we moved to this house. With hindsight and the 20-20 vision it gives, I wish we had managed it properly. Or better still, had it dug out a long time ago.
If you are interested in it and you aren’t scared of a little work, read on.
Bamboo comes in two main types, running and clumping.
Of the many varieties of bamboo available, those that will provide screening from wind and weather in an exposed position grow anywhere from 8ft to 20ft tall so choose carefully.
The running varieties can spread quickly and easily. They do that by sending out new underground stems making them invasive unless you actively manage them. At that point, your bamboo is more of a weed than a plant.
Planting bamboo in a garden, rather than in a pot, needs good preparation of the site to prevent spreading.
If you are creating a hedge or screen with bamboo, it’s better to dig a trench between 2 and 4 feet deep. The trench should be lined with an impenetrable material. Materials such as paving slabs, corrugated iron or a specific root barrier fabric.
By comparison, the clump-forming bamboo is less invasive. It will still need to be managed to keep it where you intend. Consider growing clump-forming bamboo in a container to help keep it just where you want it.
Bamboo is one of those love it or hate it plants.
I think it has its uses. In our garden, it spread relentlessly as it hadn’t been planted correctly to contain it in the border. We had stems growing in the lawn and other flower beds. I couldn’t wait to get it dugout.
If you are considering bamboo for your own garden, possibly to provide you with canes for other gardening projects, check out the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) website for more information.
Planting a hedge is a great way to add privacy and a natural wind-break to any space. Hedges will encourage wildlife too.
The main decision to make is if you want an evergreen or deciduous hedge.
My own favourite is a deciduous hedge. Beech is one of the most attractive. I love that it holds onto its brown leaves until the new growth in the spring pushes them off.
A deciduous hedge needs less pruning. As the leaves fall off in autumn the hedge is also more wind tolerant than an evergreen hedge.
Evergreen hedges are often grown using conifers. But remember, conifer grown hedges require regular – at least twice a year – pruning to stop them outgrowing the space.
Putting fences in place to give privacy is the option many people choose.
Fences don’t have to be boring wood coloured panels either. With so many colours of wood preservative available you won’t be stuck for choice.
Designs of fence panels are improving too so spend a little time researching your options.
Keep in mind any height restrictions that may apply if you intend to put the fence panels between your and a neighbours property.
Remember as well, when choosing your fencing consider the source of the wood and keep sustainability in mind.
There are a growing number of suppliers who will give you information on the products they supply. That information helps you to buy the best product for you and the environment.
A plant wall – the best of both worlds
Creating a plant wall could be the best of both worlds by combining planting with fencing or wall.
Plant walls can be as extensive or as contained as you want. A wall, or wooden fence provides the perfect backdrop for your plant wall. Plant walls soften the look of both and will be easier to manage than a hedge.
Plant walls have started to appear in many places in recent years.
They are added to work spaces to bring a little of the outdoors in and make a space more restful.
In a smaller outdoor space, they are a creative way to make use of vertical space and add interest to an otherwise boring aspect.
They’re not difficult to create either. Choose fence panels that have overlapping horizontal wooden slats to give you the perfect hanging space for small planters.
You don’t have to cover an entire wall or fence with plants. You can make one line of plants at eye-level. Or create a couple of columns of plants using hanging pots attached to the fence or wall.
Top tips for living plant walls
- If you attach your plant wall to the side of a house, make sure you use a waterproof membrane to prevent damp.
- Your living plant wall needs watering around every two or three days depending on climate, and more often in summer.
- Normal plant care considerations apply. Cut off tatty leaves, and give your plants a liquid feed every couple of weeks in summer.
Amazon has some well-priced wall planting bags to choose from. Being made from rubber or heavy-duty plastic these will also protect walls from damp. Plus, they’re reusable meaning less waste going into landfill.