Saturday, February 2, 2013


Not too many years ago, my entire neighborhood consisted of one story bungalows.
Lately, we've been CHOSEN by builders to be the neighborhood to transform.
I've stared at the new megalith(and a nice one at that) for 4 months now.
I've tried every psychological tactic to pretend that it will not affect my backyard gardening.
I have failed.
I don't like it.
I wan't to have my privacy back.
Of course, I could be exaggerating. Maybe the house ISN'T that big.
Here's my neighbor's house on the left and the new one on the right. Our little bungalows could almost fit inside their garage!
And here's the roofline seen from two houses away. So I could be having to deal with a wall of shade instead of a few windows and a back wall! does one hide a BIG HOUSE?
I've started a plan to build a green wall of plants to shade out the DEATH STAR.
My first line of defense will be a set of very fast growing Orinoco banana trees.
These will wipe out THE WALL OF STUCCO for the first summer while the little fan palms get established.
I've also got two or three Carolina Laurel cherry trees to add to the mix. These are native evergreens so that THE BEAST doesn't reappear each winter.
The native Elderberry bushes will also help thicken the defense lines.
They grow VERY fast and have nice foliage and berries for the birds.

Finally, I might actually FERTILIZE my eight to ten foot high cannas this year with manure and compost. Imagine the results! These are Canna musaefolia by the way and they are chompin' at the bits to help hide
If none of this works, I'm prepared to unleash my secret weapon.
These are rubber trees and if I plant them in the GROUND instead of pots, who knows what might happen. I'm envisioning Jack-and-the-Beanstalk scenarios.
(Seriously, I'm not going to plant banyan type trees in my back yard)
Already part of my back fence is a GREEN WALL thick enough to make me feel a lot better about the future.
Green is good for my nerves AND my privacy.
I guess privacy is much more important than I realized. My garden is a chance to get away from it all
and I like that.
All for now,


  1. Oh, how I feel your pain.. I have a post coming about how the previously empty lot next door is now a 3 story house that is incredibly close to ours. Good luck to your green privacy screen, I hope it grows quickly! (12 foot high cannas?! Wow!)

  2. This is a problem in Austin too. You know how it goes: Builders buy lots with small houses in desirable areas and then knock down the old house (with character) to replace it with a huge box. I hate it. I absolutely love older homes. The other bad part is the huge box is valued at some ungodly amount and it causes everyone's taxes to increase. (This happened to a friend who pays $9,000/yr in taxes for her 2 bdrm/1 bath home.) Plus, there are the privacy issue to deal with. I wish you luck. Laura

  3. Consider also building a screening pergola along your fenceline to grow vines on, giving you instant privacy with the structure, which will be softened with greenery as the vine fills in. Or if it can't be tall enough along the fenceline to really block the house, pull it in closer to your patio, so at least you'll have privacy when you're just sitting and enjoying the garden.

  4. Ugh- not fun BUT on the flip side you get to have a lot of green lush plants to make a screen. Right?? Those bananas will be wonderful!!! The Death Star hahaha laughed out loud. Funny.

  5. Gardening is a form of escapism so understand your concern and want for privacy. That is a huge house! Good luck with your plants, hope the plants do well and you gain more privacy :)

  6. It happens here in Australia too - I don't understand why people want a McMansion on a small block of land. I think you are on the right track with your green wall. It will take a while but you will create your own oasis.

  7. That second photo with the comparison is shocking! Why would anyone build a monster house surrounded by homes where it just doesn't fit? It would have been so much better if they had built a smaller house with character - one that would have become a part of the neighborhood instead of the eye-sore of it! And I like big houses - but this one does not belong. I hope you get a good screen going, and get your privacy back.

  8. That house stands out like a sore thumb ... I'm so sorry, David. The HG suggests you erect a nice-sized billboard facing the monstrosity with a pithy message to the residents. I think you should get a really hideous piece of yard art to place in that corner and screen it from your view with plants. I'd be glad to help you choose one!

  9. How awful that they would build such big homes like that in an existing neighborhood. I'd be embarrassed to buy it. You've got a good idea going and I think it's actually going to create more of a tropical paradise for you. Keep the fertilizer flowing.

  10. I'm no plant expert.....but, what about bamboo? There are varieties that grow super tall. And there are varieties that don't run rampant. Just a thought. I have a friend who has purchased a house in Dallas. A pic of the backyard shows other homes windows gazing down on their backyard. Really? Many of cities are big on zoning this, zoning that.....too bad they are not willing to zone to protect homeowners such as you. Where there's a will.....there's a way.

    brownwood, tx

  11. The difference in proportions is completely absurd. I like Pam's idea for a pergola-type structure. I'd also look for magic beans. ;o)

  12. If I moved into your neighborhood and saw your cozy, homey bungalows, nothing could induce me to build the huge monstrosity beside you. Hope you can succeed in hiding much of that with your new plants.

  13. Palms...lots of them:-) Lemonade from lemons like their monster house, so I prefer to think of such things as enclosure or spatial definition...

  14. I know how you feel. We have the same problem in Hawaii. I am glad to see that you were just joking about the rubber trees. :0) They can grow really huge and the roots are water pipe destroyers. aloha

  15. Your original neighborhood seemed so pretty; the house, honestly, looks a tad ugly. Hopefully, those trees will give you privacy.


I always appreciate your comments & questions! Happy Gardening from David/ Tropical Texana

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