I never thought I'd being saying those words. Arborvitae is just so....boring and ugly. Sadly, it is great at being a quick, tall, narrow, evergreen screen to hide uglier things or to provide some much needed privacy.
This past weekend our neighbors lined our fence (on their side) with at least a dozen 3-4' high arborvitae plants. I was thrilled! We live on a hill, and because their home is slightly higher than ours, we can see right into each others' homes when we are out back. We can also easily see each other. And we are all out back a lot!
Our main living areas are toward the back of our house, as is theirs, so privacy has been hard to come by. When we first moved in I planted a dwarf evergreen magnolia that will soon block our patio door from their patio door. But it only helps from a direct angle.
Last summer I rigged three sections of a tall lattice structure to the fence and planted two evergreen clematis (Clematis armandii). This should help by next year once the fast-growing clematis has a chance to take off. Sadly, one of the two plants died over the winter, and will need to be replaced. Though fast-growing, this means it will be another year before there's really good coverage.
So, when I saw them planting the arborvitae, I was thrilled. It will give us privacy without taking up even an inch of our yard. But how fast will it grow? I've read anywhere from 6"-3' per year. Man, I hope it's closer to the 3' per year!!
This reminded me of another neighbor/arborvitae story. Our former next-door neighbors planted one arborvitae front and center in their front yard. They even put a ring of rocks around it to highlight the plant. It always made me giggle. The rest of their yard looked quite nice; I just found it odd that they'd make the arborvitae the focal point!