Creating “jewel-box” yards with privacy hedges

“Hiding Behind the Hedges. In Los Angeles, the wealthy will pay a fortune to protect their private lives from prying eyes. At least leafy green walls are good for the environment.”

Cool article in the New York Times; with beautiful photos. (And although this article focuses on wealthy clients, lush landscaping — offering many many benefits in addition to privacy — does not necessarily have to be expensive if we really work with nature.)

Of course this general concept can be adapted for any climate and any sized yard. Where I live, in Daytona Beach a few blocks from the ocean, I use a mix of beachy, drought-tolerant, native-species-supporting vegetation. And some food and medicine for humans too! Also, the hedges do not have to be super tidy-manicured or monoculture. They can be more soft, shaggy, polyculture.

This jewelbox effect they describe in the article is what I have aimed to create at my place. There’s a feel of outdoor rooms with a green perimeter. My intent with my yard is twofold: To provide a cozy retreat for my housemates and myself, while also providing beauty and shade, inspiration and education to neighbors and passersby.

We value our privacy (and I like to screen out the street-lights, which are super-bright to the point of disrupting sleep), but also I do love my “porous property” bench corner where anyone is invited to sit and rest! And the metal flower sculptures, animal figurines, and other art I have mounted on the fence facing the sidewalk for all to enjoy.

I would love to know what other people have done to create a lush green aesthetic in their outdoor spaces, or even indoor or semi-indoor spaces!

I love articles like this because they emphasize that people can earn a livelihood from doing landscaping that involves some thing more than just flat, buzzcut turfgrass. Moving the needle on aesthetics is important. This is a high leverage point for making change in systems, to use the terminology from Donella Meadows / Thinking in Systems that Mike Hoag has often shared in the Transformative Adventures group.

“In a city where the bedrooms and bathrooms of one house are often within sight of the house next door, a high hedge wall — which increases privacy while reducing both noise and air pollution — has become the ultimate status symbol.”