24 January 2017

Dos and Don’ts of Landscape Buffers

Privacy, aesthetics, and function are all things property owners desire from their landscape, which is why living landscape buffers are so popular. There are many ways you can use different plant varieties to create a beautiful, private landscape that hides and protects unsightly equipment; however, it’s important to pick the right plant materials for the job.

Ways to Use Living Fences

Landscape buffers or living fences are plant materials that create an attractive natural barrier between properties, that block a passerby’s line of sight from equipment, and that adds a layer of privacy around your backyard, swimming pool, garden, etc. In addition, living fences:

  • Block the wind
  • Minimizes sounds from outside of the barrier

Living fences can be used to cover brick or wooden hardscapes or can be used in place of hardscapes.

Adding Privacy around Pools and Backyards

Whether your own a pool or not, your backyard is an oasis. Surrounding it with foliage helps to add to the aesthetic and value of the property while also enhancing the privacy. As you get ready to create a barrier around your pool or backyard, here are some things to consider:

  • Living fences take time to grow and to develop. Selecting young plant materials may not provide the level of security or privacy you want for several seasons.
  • Buying more mature plants may cost a little more, but they will provide more protection; however, because more mature plants take longer to get established and will likely not produce new growth for a few seasons after they’re transplanted.

Hiding Equipment and Utilities

In addition to providing privacy and security around pools and backyards, varieties of shrubs and trees are excellent for hiding and protecting equipment and utilities such as your irrigation pump, your pool pump, generators, AC units, trash cans, and more. As with installing living fences around large spaces, it is important to be mindful of the following when installing landscape buffers around equipment:

  • If you plant material around city-owned equipment, make sure you leave a point of access for the city as any removal or repair they need to do to the equipment could result in their needing to uproot your barrier.
  • Make sure to not plant trees or shrubs too close together as they won’t grow properly. Follow recommended spacing guidelines.
  • Plants can be trained to create a visual barrier with pruning and trimming.

Plant materials installed around such equipment not only hides these unsightly essentials, but they also protect them from cold temperatures, sun, wind, and other weathering weather.

Picking the Right Plant Variety for the Job

The most important factor in establishing a living fence is to pick the right plant material. While leafy tropical plants like giant elephant ears, banana leaves, ginger, and such create a great deal of privacy, they die away in the colder months. Thus, a critical “do” when establishing a landscape buffer is to use an evergreen. Other “dos” and “don’ts” are:

  • Pick a variety that grows quickly such as:
    • Japanese Yew
    • Viburnum
    • Wax myrtle
    • Ligustrum
    • Yaupon Holly
  • Plant during the fall to give plants time to get established before winter.
  • Measure and plan your landscape buffer before you buy and install. Let a landscape design expert help you create the privacy as well as the visual appeal you want.

Landscape buffers are attractive, natural solutions for enhancing the privacy and security of your property while protecting and hiding equipment. By picking the right materials, planting at the right time, and pruning properly, you can create a living landscape buffer to enjoy for years to come.


Enhance the aesthetics and performance of your landscape with living fences. Contact the specialists at GPL Landscaping for information on landscape design, landscape installation, and landscape maintenance services.

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