Privacy Screen in Containers - Detroit Area

Asked September 4, 2020, 1:37 PM EDT

Hello! I'm writing for some container privacy screen advice. I'd like to create a privacy screen in galvanized stock tanks – what is my best bet? My goal is to add some greenery - and some privacy - between my yard and my neighbors yard. My neighbor has an aggressive shed/concrete situation happening and I enjoy more natural scenery :) My original thought was to plant evergreens - maybe arborvitaes - but a gardener friend cautioned that the metal tanks might get too hot in the summertime. My next thought was to plant tall grasses – would grasses be hardier to a hot summer and cold winter? Is there a variety you'd recommend? Any other ideas I'm not thinking of? Thank you for your help!!! Nicole PS - I will drill drainage holes and prop up the tanks on wood or bricks before planting.

Wayne County Michigan

2 Responses

Ornamental grasses would for sure work but don't forget there will be a period where you will need to cut back the grasses during which your view will be of your neighbor's yard. The same would be true of any other shrub you would need to cut back (like butterfly bushes which could withstand the heat and would be very colorful in the summer).
As for evergreen shrubs, Arborvitaes would most likely tolerate the heat as long as you watered them regularly. You could also take a look at boxwoods or a skyrocket juniper. I would find a local nursery with a good selection of trees/shrubs and talk to the nursery person on staff who can walk you through your options.
The real concern is that with the full sun and concrete, the containers will heat up quickly. You may want to consider lining them with newspaper or some other type product before planting your shrubs. Also, you could add trailing plants around the edges which would cover the sides of the containers.
One word of caution, plants/shrubs/trees planted in containers can freeze and thaw during the winter. When this happens, the roots get air around them and can dry out. You may want to think about how you will be able to protect them during the winter. Some people place straw around the planters. Also, make sure the plants are well watered until a hard freeze which also protects the roots over the winter.
Hope that helps.

Thank you so much, Diane! Your answer is helpful and appreciated. Take care and have a great fall :)