One of the many reasons we settle in the High Country is for the spectacular views. We savor these views throughout the four seasons until the awful day comes when the neighbors’ trees are blocking our view. Now one thing can be stated about trees: They grow — and it behooves us all to select the correct plantings so that our neighbors line of sight isn’t blocked.
Flat land is a scarce thing in my neighborhood, we think little of building on lots that would deter a mountain goat. While North Carolina’s laws do not provide for the concept of ‘view rights’ most builders honor the need to preserve sight lines and are careful about placement of trees and structures that may spoil the neighbors’ enjoyment of their property.
But time moves on, trees grow and obscure what were once shared views. New homeowners see their landscape with fresh eyes and often set about removing offending trees and overgrown shrubs. But it’s harder for long-term owners to recognize when it’s time for a change.
This, of course, is more difficult than it sounds. We purchase a sprig of a tree never imagining that it will grow to be twenty or thirty feet high. Or if we contemplate the height, we forget that trees grow in both height and width.
Last year I interviewed Steve Bender, Southern Living magazine’s long-time garden editor and author of their Grumpy Gardener column. Steve has answered readers’ questions for decades; this man knows the mistakes we make. When I asked him about the most common gaffes southern gardeners commit he responded, “Failure to plan for how big something grows. The south has a really long growing season; things grow big and things grow fast here. Gardeners forget to ask ‘how big is this thing going to grow?’ Just because it’s a small tree now doesn’t mean it’s going to be a small tree in ten years.”
Landscapes change and mature sometimes before we recognize it. The landscapes we create are ours to enjoy but we have an obligation not to preclude others from enjoying their views. So as you assess your patch at the end of this season do so with fresh eyes. Consider what has overgrown its location. Can it be re-sized or does it need to be removed? Are you depriving your neighbors of their views? Editing your landscape now provides opportunities to share the view with others and try something new.
Absent from their gardens, Kit and Lise enjoy roaming our region exploring the intersection of horticulture and suburban living. More on Instagram @AbsenteeGardener or email: email@example.com.