When we move in a townhouse after living years and years in an apartment with small or no balcony the best thing we realize how nice a very neglected lawn can be. Just after few days we realize that all the neighbours are way too close to our back garden :)
I have the solution for this problem! I found the right plant for every price range.
There are a few things we have to discuss before we get into details. You have to know how windy is your garden and if you get a chance just check the soil - that would be brilliant. Than you need to know if this is a long term project or just temporary. If you just rent a house then keep the screening plants in pots so when you move you can just take them with you. Yes, it is possible to keep a tree happy in a pot for a certain amount of years and in the right size of pot. The most important is to water regularly.
Most of us would like instant screening if possible with evergreen plants. The answer for this question is the fancy espalier trees. There are different heights and width of the espaliers. The evergreen option would be Photinia x fraseri Red Robin, Ilex aquifolium or Ligustrum japonicum Aureum. The best ones for a windy spot is the first 2 options.
Screening trees have a clear stem to reach up to fence. Usual height is 1.8 m with the head of the tree above this point. These are very useful if you are overlooked by neighbours or just want to create a modern garden with as much green as possible. It really depends on a budget and obviously on the size of the garden or the wall you want to work on, the cost is around € 400-500/tree. The width of the espalier can be 1m or 1.5 m.
Another tree I found lovely and pretty exotic for a small garden is Olea europaea. It is very very responsive on trimming but doesn't really like to be in a windy spot. So recommended just in sheltered garden. But it can be a lovely screening tree, quick in growing and lovely silvery coloured evergreen leaves.
There are deciduous trees also, that can be trimmed on a lovely shape, so don't use a lot of space of your garden but they don't provide privacy in winter...that's something you have to decide... how important is for you the privacy during wintertime. If that's not a major criteria than Acer campestre, Carpinus betulus or Tilia cordata are lovely options too. Fagus sylvatica is deciduous but keeps most of its leaves for the winter...just a different colour.
Further solutions would be Thuja occidentalis, Quercus robur, Magnolia grandiflora, Prunus laurocerasus, Quercus ilex. The only disadvantage of these - hard to find the right size and some of them can be very very pricy.
Another option used by so many landscapers is bamboo. There are hundreds of varieties but two major groups: spreading with "running rhizomes" and non spreading ones. If you decide to use a variety of the first group you have to dig in a plastic barrier approx 30 - 40 cm deep so you can keep the bamboo in place - just use a big planter and problem is solved. And it can really look amazing. Pricewise is considerably cheaper than the shaped trees or the espalier. If you choose the right variety they will create beautiful hedge. For more instant result you can get a 2m+ tall one for just €80-100 and need to plant 1/every meter.
Trellis with climbers
This solution is very different from the previous ones. Use either the 30 cm or 60 cm tall, tight wave or loose wave top trellis - will do the job. Will support your climbers....
Most of the climbers are pretty quick growing plants. If you pick the right one for your garden and plant it in the right season you can have a good screening in 1 - 2 seasons. Furthermore, there are so many lovely colours can be a great addition to your garden...the lovely scent that honeysuckle can provide. So wood accessories, climbers, colours and scent... all together can cost even less than the bamboos. Price for the panels are €30-40, climbers are €10-15, that's for a standard width panel - 1.8-2m.
Hope all this information will help you to decide which one would be the best solution for you! If you consider need more info, just leave a comment below and I am happily answering it :)
*prices are guidelines only