The great thing about a brand-new home in a brand-new subdivision, is the brand-newness of it all. The not so great thing is the lack of privacy and shade. While Colorado is rather temperate, the sun is hot, the elevation is high, and our likelihood to burn sitting outside for more than 15 minutes is higher yet. Especially that left arm hanging out of our car window as we race around doing errands!
To be able to completely enjoy your outdoor space, here are some privacy and shade-y tips for you to consider. After all, now is the time to start planning and organizing your spring projects!
In new subdivisions you sometimes wonder why the developer did not leave more than 10 feet between each house, and why on earth they designed the subdivision to allow 4 other houses look in on your dining room while your family, for once, is sitting down together eating.
* Before digging in your new yard, please call the utilities company to spray for you where your power and gas lines lay. *
To create privacy it sometimes meaning creating borders. Fencing is common, and if you bake your neighbors some cookies and suggest a plan to put up a nice wooden fence, they too may want to go in on the expenses with you to have it match. Some HOA's (Home Owners Associations) only allow certain types of fines, at certain heights, colors, and more. Please verify with your board before building.
Want to go green? You could buy green materials for your fencing, or you could plant green. Tall shrubs which grow quickly can provide a natural barrier between you and your neighbors, while also providing a little shade and a nice wind block.
Trees are another great green and natural privacy blocker. Trees also provide a lot of filtered shade. Conifers grow exceptionally well in Colorado, although as I've seen in older neighborhoods, if you give them time, deciduous (leaf bearing) trees also thrive.
Bamboo is an overlooked plant that grows very fast, spreads fast, and makes a great fence. If you feel industrious, you can also cut some and weave baskets, burn it for kindling, or make furniture out of it.
Swings attached to pergolas do not need to create a large privacy barrier, but they do set a tone for, “This is where your eye needs to stop looking.”
Large pots of varying sizes enclosed near patios can create a more private setting for those sitting on the patio, but will not need unnecessarily block your neighbor's yard. These can be really nice features to add to your space by bringing in colors, tall grasses, and colorful flowers.
We already covered trees, as an obvious solution to producing or creating some shade in your yard. One thing I have not mentioned yet, is your grass will thank you for some relief during the afternoon. So many new homes put down sod. The sod undoably fries in the hot sun and the new yard looks bad. By planting trees in your yard you are providing some shelter for your grass as the sun passes over it. The shade provided by trees, especially as they get taller, can help you reduce energy costs in your house. During the winter months, the trees can act as wind barriers, and in the summer, the trees provide shade helping keep your house a few degrees cooler.
Arbors and trellises can make a lovely addition to any backyard or patio. If you are a garden buff and want a nice place to sit amongst your plants, an arbor can be a great touch. Place a bench under and allow roses or other climbing vines to grow on it. Placing a trellis above a deck can provide nice shade, and if it is a lower deck, growing vines on it can help provide more wind breaks and shade. Some people have grown grape vines and used the grapes to create their wine! Imagine sitting in the shade on your patio sipping wine that came from the very vines amongst you! I've also seen hops grown and the hops used in home brewing. A win-win!
Pergolas are just like arbors only they are comprised of wooden beams instead of trellising. These can be very nice for a eastern or northern facing deck that does not see much sunshine, but you are looking for an architectural feature.