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Designing a Garden? You’ll Need a Plan

  • July 08, 2020

He considered how aggressive a plant was and its affordability, because multiples would likely be required. And whether the plant was native and had wildlife value was also important to Mr. Noble, who favors native shrubby dogwoods, willows, sumac and Amelanchier in looser areas.

While a traditional hedge — an expanse of a single plant like hornbeam or arborvitae — has its purpose, Mr. Noble prefers a less conventional method of screening.

For a client whose porch felt too exposed, he took a three-layer approach. Along the road, he chose a mixed planting of pine, hemlock, dogwood and birch. On the lawn, one strategically sited deciduous tree created a sense of privacy between the road and house. The final touch: a group of lilacs on the porch corner.

“All are serving the same purpose, to screen the road for people on the porch,” he said. “But nobody would think it’s screening.”

When screening along a road or other shared boundary, Mr. Noble said, remember both sides.

“I prefer a more generous mix of conifers and shrubs on the public side to a hedge,” he said.

On the inside, they form the backdrop to a more intimate garden space, with perennials and grasses. “The same plants serve as the spine,” he said, “but each side’s view is very different.”

Screens can be rendered less formidable by introducing what Mr. Noble calls “pocket views,” like his carefully placed break in a dogwood-willow hedge: “I wanted to give passers-by one peek.”

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