Landscaping & Design/Landscape fence


Hello.  My name is Curtis.  I own a house on the eastern (prairie) edge of Colorado Springs, Colo.  The house (like all the houses in the subdivision) was built @ 1995 and sits on about 1/5 of an acre of land.  The area is about Zone 5, lots of sun, little precipitation and little grows naturally except native grasses and small shrubs (e.g. rabbit brush, potentilla, etc.).  The actual soil is about pH 6 and has sand in it.  Typically, the developer flattened the whole area, put up a bunch of houses, enclosed the lots with ceder fencing, and sprinkled about 1 inch of actual topsoil down to help the sod grow.  The point of all this is, the ceder fences are all looking bad.  Some people are replacing them now -- with more ceder fencing!  I hate the look of it and I would like to replace mine with a landscape (plant) fence.  I'm writing to you for guidance in this.  THe landscape fence must meet a few basic criteria: 1.) It needs to provide privacy without becomming too bushy.  I don't want it encroaching over into my neighbor's property or my own, whereby it starts to feel like it's making my backyard smaller.  Something collumnar perhaps?  2.) It needs to be inpenatrable - especially at the ground - to keep dogs from being able to traverse from one lot to another.  3.) It needs to be effective year 'round.  It's okay if it looses its leaves in the autumn, but it still needs to afford privacy and protection [from dogs] all the time.  So my question is, what plant (or plants -- I understand that there may be a few types required to make this work) can you suggest and what planting tips can you offer?  Thanks a lot.  -- Curtis


Here is a list of evergreen privacy hedge plants that are drought tolerant and adapted to a desert environment:

Emerald Green Thuga. Grows 8 to 12 feet high,but can be trimmed down. Extremely drought tolerant and disease and insect resistant. Obtains a columnar shape that has a pruned look. Grows in almost any soil from sandy loam to clay. Plant every 3 feet to achieve a thick barrier.

Common Privet (ligustrum vulgare). Grows to 15 feet high. Tolerates wide range of soil conditions. Produces clusters of tiny white flowers. Plant 4 to 6 feet apart.

Atriplex Torreyi. Native to the Southwest. Grows 6 to 8 feet high. Plant 3 to 4 feet apart.

Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii). Grows 4 to 6 feet high. Produces small yellow flowers in April and bright red berries in Fall. Plant 3 to 6 feet apart.

Japanese Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa). Grows 6 to 10 feet high. Tolerates wide range of soil conditions. Produces red flowers in April. Plant 3 to 4 feet apart.

Sea Tomato (Rosa rugosa). Grows to 8 feet high. Produces fragrant single or double white,yellow,pink or purplish red flowers. Also produces bright red tomato shaped fruit. Plant 4 to 6 feet apart.

Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus). Grows to 6 feet high. Produces pink flowers in May and June and white fruit in late summer to winter. Plant 4 to 6 feet apart.

Mugo pine or juniper could be used as an understory plant if the foilage of the hedge is not sufficiently close to the ground. A wide layer of these plants would discourage animals from entering.  Good luck. Let me know if I can be of further help.

Mark Harshman  

Landscaping & Design

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Design of landscape structures and design of planting arrangements in the landscape. I usually do not answer questions of a horticultural nature or about growing plants or gardening unless they are related to design. I will answer these questions at my discretion. I will answer maintenance questions at my discretion,usually when they are related to design. I am a landscape designer. I am not a contractor or a gardener. Although I will describe how something is built I do not provide detailed installation or construction instructions. Here are example categories of problems I can help you with: Design of residential walks,low walls,low retaining walls,fences,drainage systems,arbors,plant selection,xeriscapes (low water use landscapes),rain garden design,rain water harvesting,permeable paving,sustainable drainage. No advise on an architectural or engineering level. I DO NOT PERFORM ACTUAL DESIGN WORK THROUGH THIS SITE. I only provide suggestions and advice. For more comprehensive help check out my website at:


Landscape concept plan for a 30,000 square feet housing site. Involved site recon by pace measurements and photographs and a site analysis and a site analysis report and recommendations and a preliminary cost estimate. Design elements included canopy trees,shrub cover,accent flowers,trash receptacles,benches and planters. Landscape concept plan for a 7,000 square feet site for a community center. Involved site recon by tape measurements and photographs,a site analysis and the creation of 3 conceptual designs for the site. Work was done through a local professional design center. Design elements included tree garden,playground,sitting area,lawn,cooking area,lighting and concrete and brick paving. Landscape concept plan for a 3,000 square feet housing site. Involved site recon by tape measurements and photographs and a site analysis. Concluded in 3 concept designs for the site,shown at a formal presentation,a site analysis and recommendations. Work was done through a community volunteer program. Design elements included decks,a playground and fencing. Briefly as draftsman for landscape designer/gardener. Conceptual landscape design for residence. Involved site recon by tape and pace measurements and site analysis. Design included covered patio area,ground cover and flower beds. Two years experience as draftsman for transportation department in engineering firm and for engineering consultants to phone company. Duties consisted of plotting topography. Survey crew member. General assistant to surveyor. Work was done for U.S. Army and County Highway Department. No instrument work. Duties included tape measurement,holding graduated survey rod and plumb bob for sighting and clearing brush. Marketed Landscape Design Services. Brochure writing,promotional material and marketing graphics.

Course in Computer Aided Drafting. 700 hours in AutoCad 2000. 700 hours to date on AutoCad Light 2000. Certificate in Manual Drafting. 1200 hours drafting time. Course in Civil Engineering Technology. (One Semester)

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From Civil Engineer: I am very impressed with your work and with the obvious thought you have put into the marketing of your venture. It was especially good to see a print of that job we discussed on the phone. I wish you much luck with the venture as I do with your plans for school. Im darn proud of you buddy. And by the way,when I get my license,maybe you will consider me for a consulting job down the road. I hope to get together with Rick sometime soon and I would really like to show him your stuff if its ok with you. From all these questions you ask I get the feeling that you are genuinely interested and have put alot of thought into the idea and process of landscape architecture and if you could possibly afford the cost I would urge you to take some classes in the areas you are most interested in. The subject is not so simple as it appears,mixing science and engineering with art and a certain amount of religion to create a comfortable and pleasing balance between man and nature. A thoughtful soul like yours can do this but it can be a lifes work getting it right.

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