Plants fulfill a number of purposes in the landscape, from fruit and vegetable production to providing a smooth, welcoming surface for activities. Plants also enhance yards with attractive blossoms or year-round greenery. One practical use for outside plants involves using them for screens and sound barriers. Certain types of plants effectively block the view of ugly or unsightly structures in the landscape or in neighboring yards. These plants increase the beauty of the landscape while blocking out unappealing sights.
Desert willow trees (Chilopsis linearis) hide medium to tall structures by forming a screen of green. When planted closely together, these willow trees grow to a width and height that blocks the view of nearby structures. The desert willow reaches a mature height around 30 feet and a width near 25 feet. It prefers warm climates, thriving in zones 7 through 11. The white, pink and lavender blossoms that appear in summer enhance the appearance of this willow tree. It tolerates a wide variety of soil conditions and withstands periods of drought.
Some types of shrubs effectively hide many types of low structures, including retaining walls, unsightly foundations and exterior heating and air-conditioning units. Use lilac bushes (Syringa vulgaris) to hide these areas from view. Lilacs produce fragrant blossoms in shades of blue, purple, pink and white in the spring. Lilacs thrive in sunny areas in climate zones 3 through 7 and reach their mature height of 8 to 10 feet within five to seven years. Plant a solid row to form a dense screen.
Vines placed along trellises divide garden areas and hide what is on the opposite side. One type of flowering vine, the Japanese clematis (Clematis terniflora) enhances the landscape with its white blossoms that cover the vines in late summer and early fall. This plant’s vigorous growth and thicket-forming characteristics enable it cover a trellis to form a dense screen. Japanese clematis plants survive cold winters, including those found in climate zone 3. Train these vines using sturdy trellises, firmly set into the soil in front of the structure you wish to hide. They can grow up to 30 feet in average soils with full sunlight. Use a root barrier around your planting area to contain these aggressive vines.
Western Red Cedar
Some structures require year-round camouflage. For these areas, plant some western red cedars (G. Lumis). These evergreen trees form a tall, bushy screen and maintains a rich, green foliage throughout the year. Although these trees grow rather slowly, they reach a height between 50 and 60 feet and a width of about 15 to 20 feet, making them a good choice to use for blocking large structures from view. They prefer sunny locations in climate zones 5 through 9, and thrive in rich, moist soils.