Hello AT, After a year of pondering it, we've given up and are nearly ready to pay a consultant. Sorry for the shoddy drawing, but the situation is this: our backyard is a concrete slab adjoining our neighbors, who have a right-of-way along the back in order to have their garbage removed. That means we have no privacy at all on two sides (top and right in drawing below)...
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To make matters worse, our deck rises above the yard on the black columns shown, and a great spindly tree (drawn in) is our only screen from neighbors. At the moment, we have vines on lattices (planters shown) to give a bit of privacy, and put a table in the dirt plot to the lower right. But it's very unfinished, and over the summer a broken water system killed the vines. We are clearly plant-killers of the highest order. Photos may make things more clear. Considering:
1. removing the tree
2. fencing all around to block right of way and yard from view
3. bricking in dirt plot, lower right
4. training vines from fence to upper deck for privacy screen.
But our ideas are surely folly. Our main wish is for entertaining friends in beauty. Any clever thoughts?
It's a bit tough to get a good view of the problem here, but we appreciate all the issues. In general, we are opposed to over-fencing, especially in small back yards, where space is at a premium and the view of a fence can be a real buzz kill.
We'd therefore go for the intense use of foliage to block the trash and other unsightly objects from view. You could also build in a "knee-Fence" in that area (one that only goes up as high as the trash cans) and then trellis above.
As for taking down the tree - if it's an old weed tree, take it down! Open up your yard, get more growing down low and plant another, better tree that will eventually give you shade, but also be more attractive.
Also, whenever you take down a tree, we say "keep the firewood!". To reuse your tree in an outdoor or inside fireplace completes the circle and gives you back another great resource.