Leafy green plants make great window coverings
Leafy green plants make great window coverings

Do you have windows that face outward toward a view that you would rather not see?  Perhaps it is the view of the house next door. Or you have a bare wall. Maybe you need some protection from the sun. To solve these problems, have you ever considered using plants in place of curtains?

Green Window Coverings in My Garden

In my garden, I have east-facing windows, which heat the house early in the day. When our home was being built, I designed the landscape so that there were plants placed in front of those windows. 

Why would I put plants in front of these windows you may wonder? I needed some sort of shelter from the sun. But I didn’t want curtains that would block my view of the garden, so I chose to add Mexican bird-of-paradiseThis yellow-flowering shrub can be pruned into a small tree. This is what I have done, which still allows me to view the garden beyond while providing some protection from the sun’s rays.

Natural, Green Window Coverings – A Designer’s Perspective

Using Plants In Place of Curtains

A few years ago, I was working with a client who was an interior designer . She had employed this same strategy for adding beauty while shielding her windows from the sun. She had decided that instead of curtains for her windows, she wanted ‘natural, green’ window coverings.

Orange Jubilee Shrubs as Window Shields

This is the view from her living room. You can see the lush green foliage from the ‘Orange Jubilee’ creates interesting shadows inside and she can enjoy the feeling of being surrounded by beautiful plants, even while indoors.

using Orange Jubilee' (Tecoma x 'Orange Jubilee') shrubs In Place of Curtains

To achieve this, she planted a row of ‘Orange Jubilee’ (Tecoma x ‘Orange Jubilee’) shrubs in front of her windows.

using single hop bush In Place of Curtains

Single Hop Bush – An Alternative to Curtains

Here is another example of using plants in place of curtains. A single hop bush shrub creates a lovely green screen that protects this west-facing window from the blistering afternoon sun.

Have you ever tried using plants instead of curtains? Beyond functioning as a curtain they also work to increase shade and reduce heat islands in neighborhoods. This helps keep homes cooler.

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
16 replies
  1. Aaron Dalton
    Aaron Dalton says:

    With the right plant in the right place, I think it's a brilliant idea.

    Which just goes to show that "overgrown" (like "weed") is often in the eye of the beholder! 🙂


  2. Amber
    Amber says:

    I planted a Mexican bird of paradise outside of my east facing bathroom block window. It’s done great and provides some much needed protection.

    I also love seeing the shadows of the finches/birds while they’re eating the seeds from the plant as I get ready in the morning.

  3. Sandy Smith
    Sandy Smith says:

    You know what we say, “Great minds think alike!”
    My windows are on a South facing patio, with a trellis, so I’m using light weight pots of varied heights (you know the kind, look like dark clay, heavy, but not.) And I’ve been saving ‘peanuts’ to use in the bottom, thanks to your advice.
    Thinking I might use Dodonaea, at least the large one in the middle. Send you a pic when I finish.

  4. arizonaplantlady@gmail.com
    arizonaplantlady@gmail.com says:

    Hi Sandy,

    Great idea to use dodonaea. I just visited a client today that had a wall of dodonaea (hopbush) to shield her master bathroom windows and it was really attractive. I’d love to see a photo when you finish.

  5. Betty Anne spar
    Betty Anne spar says:

    I use hops to shield neighbors driveway and car. But the heat killed one this year. The male. Bought another. I also put glass shelves in windows and put succulents. Looks nice.

  6. Peg
    Peg says:

    Yes! I have no curtains except for my bedroom, but I live in Alaska so my houseplants are my curtains. It’s jungle in here with banana trees up to 7-8ft. to an ancient jade plant that’s almost 4 feet tall by 3.5 feet wide that has pressed itself against the window, geraniums galore, blooming azaleas, mints, rosemaries and basil, ponytail palms, ficus, night blooming jasmine, hawaiian wedding flower, hoya, kahili ginger lawai fern, taro, plus a myriad of cactus and succulents to name a few.

  7. Peg
    Peg says:

    Thank you! I sacrifice some sunshine but living in a jungle of beautiful plants makes up for it. All that greenery is especially cheery in the winter. 🙂

  8. Kate
    Kate says:

    I love your posts. I am a gardening fanatic. Moved to Tucson by way of Montana (high-plains style gardens hardy to -20 degrees) and Washington state (lush, rain-soaked English-style gardens). This new climate is an absolute challenge and joy to garden within. Thanks for all of your inspiration!

Comments are closed.