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very fast growing, cheap visual screen needed

 
Mick Fisch
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PROBLEM:
My wife has informed me that we need some kind of visual screen to block the view of our neighbors property in place when we put our house up for sale in 2 years. Experience has proved that she is right most of the time so I am wanting to comply.

One of my neighbors is a port-a-potty business that has been a local employer for decades. They are good neighbors, but probably not the best when we're trying to sell our house. From our driveway and the south side of our house there is a fine view of their worklot, with rows and rows of portapotties. My wife is of the opinion that it will make it harder to sell our house and has asked me to put up about a hundred foot long visual screen about 6 feet tall near the driveway and the walk around the south side of the house to block the view, then about a 200 - 300 foot screen down by the property line that should eventually get around 20 feet tall (the property slopes down from us).

I've already pointed out to her that 2 years isn't a lot of time for trees and I sure wish she had thought of this 2 months ago, before everything greened up. Her response is that she has done her part in pointing out the problem and that the solution is in my area of expertise and she is sure I can solve the problem.

POSSIBLE SOLUTION:
My initial thought is willows, I can get hold of maybe 200 young willows (maybe many more once I really start exploring areas to cut from) between 4 to 6 feet tall and think they will work for both the closer screen and the property line screen. I can transplant some of my plums and small apple trees to the hillside this fall for additional screening (besides, the hillside was pretty steep for mowing). I'll have to water the willows for a few years, but if I dig a swale and put in lots of old cow manure the trees should take off and provide the screening she wants.

Normally, I would have cut the willows this winter and put them in place so that they could sprout and take root this spring. I've missed that boat. Has anyone ever tried cutting and burying willow during the growing season? Normally, willow seems to be unkillable, but I don't want to use up all my resources now and then have to scrounge a few hundred small trees when they fail. I've tried, as an experiment, cutting a four footer, roughing up the lower bark to show a little green and putting it in a bucket of water to see if it sprouts, then it occured to me that someone here may have already played with willows during the growing season. Can I just stick them in the ground this time if year (will maybe most of the leaves plucked off)? There are enough trees involved that I'm not real anxious to start digging up big rootballs.

YOUR INPUT REQUESTED:
Any critiques or suggestions to improve my plan would be welcome.

ADDITIONAL, BUT POSSIBLY USELESS INFORMATION:
Someone will probably ask about the smell. The wind is almost always from the west and blows any scent through the woods behind us to the McMansion neighborhood on the other side of the woods (to my secret delight). We smell something a few times a year, but never too strongly (my opinion, some with finer sensibilities might disagree).

As to why the time frame, I'm retiring in 14 months (probably still going to need to get some kind of work to eke out retirement) and my youngest daughter will graduate High School in 2 years, after which we plan to move to the Idaho (not nailed down where yet, either the Spokane/ Coeur d'Alene area or the Preston, Idaho area. Seems all our kids are moving west, so we're going where the grandkids are.

 
Todd Parr
Posts: 665
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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I have planted willows during the growing season with no trouble at all. I soak them in a bucket until the roots start growing and plant them deep, 2 or 3 feet. Never had a problem.
 
Mick Fisch
Posts: 227
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Todd, that's perfect! If I can plant them this year they should be rocking in two summers.
 
Todd Parr
Posts: 665
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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Two years is enough to give them a good start but I don't know if they will be a screen yet. I would do a planting of miscanthus giganteus inside the willow trees. They will fill in faster and look nice until the willows are big enough to be good screens.
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
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Location: northern northern california
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you might consider a couple of princess trees - paulownia, though many do consider this an "invasive" bully type tree.
on the flip side thats because its so easy and extremely extremely fast growing.

it is at least, very attractive, and grows faster than just about any other tree, and not only that it grows tall very fast, in the first few years.
ah well...i wouldnt recommend it for just anything, so take it or leave it, but thats my two cents based on what you want.

 
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