Apartment Garden Blues (Blog): Grow a Privacy Screen

English Ivy plant

When I moved in to my previous apartment complex, I was told we couldn’t put up screens (like bamboo screens) for privacy from the neighbors. So the whole time I lived here, I felt like I was gardening out in the open. And every time I went outside, it seemed like my next-door neighbor also wanted to be on his balcony. So I was out there gardening, and about 10 feet away there was another person there smoking, clipping his toenails and watching what I was doing. Awkward! (and gross!)

I didn't think of it at the time, but a privacy screen would have been very easy to grow on that balcony. That side of the balcony didn’t have many plants (just a fern) because it didn’t get much light. Since light didn’t come from that direction, I could have grown a low-light container plant there that blocked the view of my neighbor (and his view of me), and it wouldn’t have affected the level of light my other plants received.

If I could go back in time, I would have propagated my indoor English ivy plant that I had and grown it in two different plant pots on that side of the balcony. Inside those two plant pots, I would've added a tall stick (a bamboo pole or whatever I could find), and then string some wire from one stick to the other. The ivy could have quickly grown up the poles and along the wire to form a privacy screen that would have been completely ok with apartment management. It would have been a living privacy screen so my neighbors wouldn’t have stared while I was gardening. And maybe the English ivy could have filtered out some of that cigarette smoke, too!

How do you deal with apartment garden privacy? Do you just deal with nosy neighbors watching you in the garden?



Alexandra is a professional writer from Southern California who grows vegetables, herbs, lots of aloe vera and one giant Boston fern in her balcony garden. She also grows dracaena, pothos and English ivy indoors. She loves traveling and birdwatching in addition to gardening.

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