Q&A: Using Vertical Plants for Privacy

Tips on which plants are a good choice for verticals.

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Q: I have a west-facing townhouse with a narrow, about two-foot space between my driveway and the next townhouse's driveway. I'd like to plant something in this space to create vertical interest. Would 'Medora' or 'Skyrocket' juniper be a good choice?
— D.S., Alexandria, Va.

A: Both are columnar junipers (Juniperus scopulorum) and are relatively slow-growing, especially 'Medora'. 'Skyrocket' is narrow (about two feet wide at the base) but it will reach a height of 15 feet or more. 'Medora' is slightly less narrow (two to three feet) and grows to about 10 feet tall. To some extent your choice would depend on how long you plan to be in your home and the size of plant you buy.

It's difficult to plant between two driveways that are so close together. Road salt, car doors and passengers, delivery trucks, loose dogs and shoveled snow tend to trample the area. Also, utility lines may be under that strip.

Instead, you might consider a decorative fence, trellis or a sculptural piece softened with a vine such as English ivy or clematis. This will allow you full control over the ultimate height and width of the planting from the start. Another alternative might be a mural-type panel or similar ruse to provide height without relying on plant material at all.

— National Gardening Association

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