Tall plantings hide power lines
Developing a strategy: The author did not want to make his urban Atlanta home a walledin fortress. Instead, he opted for a mixture of plants and fences to screen but not totally shut out surrounding views. (Photos taken from numbered positions.)
Photo/Illustration: Vincent Babak
To enclose the front garden, I started by planting large shrubs and trees at the property corners to screen the power lines from view. I did this with evergreen Burford and Foster’s hollies (Ilex cornuta ‘Burfordii’, USDA Hardiness Zones 7 to 9, and I. x attenuata ‘Foster #2’, Zones 6 to 9) and the deciduous Hydrangea paniculata ‘Tardiva’, Zones 3 to 8). I limbed up their multiple trunks to screen the power lines without completely blocking the view of the sidewalk. Also, the sculptural trunks are eye-catching.
From the street, these limbed-up trees and shrubs add a greater sense of depth as you look through them toward the house, making my tiny front yard seem just a little bigger. They also offer a backdrop for other plantings—annuals, perennials, and evergreen groundcovers. Over time, as these anchor plants mature and create a shadier environment, I am replacing the sun-loving perennials and annuals with shade-loving perennials and groundcovers.
Along one side in the front, I expanded this concept of mixed, layered plantings by establishing a screen of evergreen and deciduous plants from the corner of the lot to the house. Evergreen hollies and a chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus, Zones 6 to 9) step down to Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Ayesha’ (Zones 6 to 9) and other flowering shrubs, annuals, and perennials to create a pocket garden anchored by a small birdbath.