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Innovative Privacy Screens

18 years ago

In the big scheme of things, I know my problem isn't going to make or break the rest of the world but here goes.

My next door neighbor is a slob. Junk all over the back yard, front yard, etc. etc.

I've installed a privacy screen in the front along with heavenly bamboo and other plantings . The back yard, surrounded by a chain fence with old growth trees, is a new challenge.

I have big plans for a beautiful garden and I'd like to find an innovative way to screen the mess off. Arrow bamboo has been suggested, along with other bamboo. I'm open to any plant suggestions that will make the project happen this season.

The length to screen is about 40-50 ft. and it does get full sun about 4-5 hours a day, the rest of the day it's partial shade.

I have considered the same type of screen that is in the front as well as other fencing that will take care of the problem. I'm just looking for alternate ways of dealing with this.

Polite suggestions that the yard is a dump have not been effective. Since I installed the front screen about a year ago, neighbors haven't spoken to me, not that I really care. There are no local laws or by-laws that govern this type of thing.

Finally, I am the of person that tries to see good in anything that I encounter. The only good thing that I can come up with is that the yard is left to go to hell during the growing season, and the grass and weeds cover everything up so it's not as noticeable.

Thanks for your help!

Comments (47)

  • janandalan
    18 years ago

    We have the same problem here, and although I'm glad we don't have a restrictive home owner's association to deal with, it would be nice if there were some way to moderate our neighbors. Their yard looks like a junkyard!
    I have been playing with similar ideas to yours, but have yet to actually do anything about it. I think the bamboo wall (I'm looking into the "black bamboo") and some fast growing firs or other tall, narrow, fast growing trees might be the answer.

    Our house as it is now:


    House as it could be:



  • ianna
    18 years ago

    I am envious that you can use bamboo plants as screening materials. Just one precaution though, as bamboos (unless they are the clumping types) tend to spread throughout the area and sometimes a long distance from it's parent plant. These plants are actually a giant form of grass and do have the spreading habits of grass. A barrier of a foot deep may be necessary to contain the plant from spreading.


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  • spiritual
    Original Author
    18 years ago


    Thanks for your advice.

    I've read/heard that larger bamboo plants do better than smaller ones when just getting started. Also, placing black landscape cloth around the growing areas prevents it from getting out of control.

    I have all of these plans for the yard that I really can't see proceeding with unless I can get this issue solved. Every time I go out into the yard, my eye goes over to all of this junk. I am very happy with the way the plastic white lattice looks in the front, even though I'm not a good carpenter. The heavenly bamboo covers all of my mistakes!

    If I install a similar screen in the back, I'm playing around with curving it (as opposed to a straight line) to give the yard a different dimension. I have lots of smaller areas withing the yard to play around with. This approach also fits my personality alot better.

    Perhaps if we both keep looking, we will come up with something completely different.

    Thanks also Ianna for your advice.


  • bhnash
    18 years ago

    How about Rambling Roses grown on the chain link fence? Most ramblers take a bit of shade, they will cover the fence in 2-3 years, and are absolutely gorgeous in the spring.

  • Kriskat30
    18 years ago

    How about a big grass like pampas?

  • JudyL
    18 years ago

    Please check out the barriers for running bamboo very thoroughly! From memory, it should extend up above the ground about 6", and below ground at least 2', and be metal. I lived in a house in CA that came with bamboo, and it even grew through the concrete patio!

  • blumin
    18 years ago

    Creating a blind/screen/fence appeal takes alot of planning and decision making...plants, rocks, shrubs, water etc...

    If you're not quite sure but want this seasonal result while your deciding...why not try Sunflowers!!!

    Great beauty, colour, height, width, attractive to environment and animals.

    That gives you another season to plan your overall decision!!!

    (Might even give your neighbours something to think about)

  • lazy_gardens
    18 years ago

    Try making trellises of something (Rebar and concrete reinforcing mesh, wired on, makes a good cheap one - lasts several years) and grow vines for a fast coverup until the plant screens get large enough.

  • altora
    18 years ago

    try a vine like honeysuckle or silver lace vine, they grow really fast. sweet autumn clematis too. but, i'm pretty sure these can become invasive if not kept in check.

  • PlantsFromAZ
    18 years ago

    check with your cities neighborhood services department. In phoenix yards like that are considered a blight and can be anonymously reported. then the city sends out a letter, and 20 days later does an inspection, after inspection if there is still a problem they are given 30 days before they are reinsp[ected and cited.
    Citations and fines are a good kick in the pants to clean it up. I live in a part of phoenix I call little mexico. things can get pretty run down if allowed to. Tires, weeds, grafitti etc. But a few of us canvas our neighborhoods a few times a year, submitting blight reports to the city ... since we started do it - property values have increased significantly. 20-30% the first year alone
    The person is never cited without first being made aware of the problem and given about 45 days to clean it up.

  • Twilight_08
    18 years ago

    This is a way late post, so it may now be a mute point, We ended up planting a bamboo grove to block our view to the place next door (we do have a covenant regarding fences). The bamboo does grow a bit fast, we are happy, but we left it so that we just run the lawnmower along a certain perimater and that takes care of any speading into that area. I also have black bamboo along one side of my greenhouse and it has been very slow growing when compared to the more common stuff. It just looks like the tall yellow, we started with 3 pieces that another neighbor dug from his grove and planted for us. We are fortunate in the fact that our covenant also specifies a 5 acre minimum per residence and some have 10 acres so none of the neighbors are "in our face" but a plant screen certainly makes it a lot more pleasant than everyone being able to look in on all our activities....better yet, us not having to see theirs. LOL

  • Judeth
    18 years ago

    To: Twilight-8: The last place we lived, I planted a cedar hedge. It was far enough in my lot that I could mow between it and the fence. Stand by the fence with a aluminum extension on my electric pruners, prune that side and rake the prunings to my lawn side of the hedge. To top the hedge, the part to block the neighbours house/patio, I stood on top of my camper. The neighbours hired a surveyor and got the fence. The Municipality told me to put any kind of posts in and run some wire or rope, not barbed wire, from post to post so THAT would be classed as my fence otherwise when the old fence came down the hedge was classed as a fence.
    Here in our new house, the neighbour is adding onto his house and had footings over on our lot. He would have been nearly 14 feet over with the overhang to hang his canoes under. He said it was a roof over his boat ramp but it was attached to his house. Now the Joyces are toughing the post by the surveyor stake. What am I going to put up???? I've seen fences made of slab wood. One real nice one has one board smooth, the next bark showing. This alternates up the whole fence line. They had those garbage bag like planters with plants blooming every so often up the whole line and it looked fantastic.

  • ILoveBelgianMalinois ToPieces
    18 years ago

    From past experience, i've determined that nothing, not landscape fabric or even metal sheeting 10' down, can contain bamboo. The only option is planting it in a container!

  • Maeflower
    18 years ago


    How did you do the before and after? I'm just 3 months late reading this post. :)

  • well_rooted
    18 years ago

    Clumping bamboos definitely exist. Not all are runners. There also exists a new containing system for runners. I am not sure of the name but with a search on Google you would likely come up with it. I expect it is rather expensive.

    I have an innovative suggestion for a privacy fence. Have you ever heard of a fedge? It is made from 6 - 7' willow rods that are set at an angle into the ground, in a cross-hatch pattern. They then root and leaf out within a few weeks. So it is a pretty well instant screen. I suggest you do a search on Google for pictures.

  • Carole39
    18 years ago

    If you hop over to the Cottage Gardens forum you will find the "Planting along Hated Neighbor's driveway" thread about the 2nd or 3rd (at this moment) page with a lot more suggestions that might help with your/our problem. I built some 4' boxes with 4' trellis inserts on legs "for the dogs in my yard" problem on one side of me, just lined them up and piled all my potted stuff on them. If I had to use them in front I would make the trellis a foot taller. They are a little primitive but sure do the job.

  • pajaro_gardener
    18 years ago

    We had a similar problem with our neighbors...with the addition that their kids hung over the fence and threw stones at our little dog. We planted a Cecil Brunner now lines the entire side fence, at least 12 feet high by three or four feet deep. It is amazing how something that lovely (it blooms for months and months) can be such a good barrier to intruders as well as unpleasant people and unpleasant views. This rose is small and pink and very fragrant and the gophers leave it alone. It also makes starts when covered with dirt. I never fertilize it (did at first) or treat for disease, usually forget to water (we do have rainfll, though) but I do go out sometimes at night and talk to it and thank it.

  • South_Shore_MA
    18 years ago

    I like the idea of a "fedge" that I just read about on this forum. Where would I find willow rods? Are they available at most nurseries? I guess it goes without saying I'm new to gardening! Thanks!

  • dragonladytoo
    18 years ago

    I like the fedge idea too but can't seem to find the willow rods. I googled it but only came up with UK and Canadian sources. Anyone know?

  • South_Shore_MA
    18 years ago

    I've been searching and coming up with only UK and Canadian sources, too, but I just came upon the American Willow Growers Network.

    Here is a link that might be useful: American Willow Growers Network FAQ

  • dragonladytoo
    18 years ago

    Thanks for the link to American Willow Growers - I sent them an email asking about the rods - when/howmuch/if they grow in OK, etc. but there hasn't been time for a response yet. Will post when one comes.

  • little_dani
    18 years ago

    I prayed to the Gods for them to do something about 'the creeps that live behind us' until I remembered that the Lord helps those who help themselves.

    I learned that whatever kind of structure you install, PAINT IT WHITE! The white will effectively block the view. So, if you put up a trellis of white plastic lattice board, set 2-3 feet off the ground on 2x4's (also painted white),and framed out nicely, you have an instant view blocker. Plant vines like Hyacinth bean, silver lace, shell pea vine, potato vine, and Mexican flame vine, along with plants that get big and bloom all spring, summer and fall, like Esperanza, Moy Grande hibiscus, Shrimp plant, Gingers of all description, Bush Morning Glory, and Bougainvilla. For spite, you could plant some trumpet vine real close to the fence- I guarantee that it will wind up on the other side of the fence. It worked for us. We have a real pretty and very private back yard now, and could care less what the creeps do. LOL

  • Allshade
    18 years ago

    Wow, Pajaro_gardener, I hope the kids got stuck with some thorns the last time they tried to hit your dog.

    We just planted a mixed shrub screen this spring. We replaced the chain link with a privacy fence along the street (corner yard), but couldn't afford all the way around, so we have sweet autumn clematis climbing the remaining chain link, along with shrubs that should provide good screening in time. The benefit has been IMPROVED relations with our neighbors. One who had brush piled up along their side of the fence removed it! The other folks have just been a little friendlier, though we're hoping they will be inspired and plant a few shrubs of their own.


  • User
    18 years ago

    Gardenweb forum on bamboo is a great place to take your questions about this grass plant. Cloth laid on the ground will definitely NOT stop bamboo.

    Until I moved last month, I had a clump of bamboo which did not spread fast at all. The canes were 1.25" approximately maybe a little larger, and they reached a good 20 plus feet in length. When I moved, I cut about 30 of the best canes to bring with me. I used them to make a bed canopy to hang my mosquito net over, and it is great. I also wove a barrier to keep dogs from under the porch. I still have a good number of strong canes left, but I miss my lovely clump of bamboo.

    The original poster lives in zone 7, and that is getting a little north for many species of bamboo. Someone suggested pampas grass. It clumps and would stop a pickup truck, but it would not screen the totality of that neighboring yard. Also, pampas grass is a very WIDE plant, and you will need a 10 foot wide strip of yard just for it. It is also very sharp, like razor grass, and will cut children to pieces; it harbors snakes and rats, so keep it away from the house. I think, personally, that I would put up a good wooden privacy fence with lattice on the top. It would leave most of your garden area free for landscaping as shown in the lovely dream photo.

  • stevesue
    18 years ago

    love your dream photo...i would like to dream, too. what program did you use to enhance your picture?

  • Connie_N_Virginia
    17 years ago

    BOY can I relate to your problem! I have completly restored our enTIRE home inside and out to a Victorian/Coutry home. It's coming along just beautifuly. Still have a long ways to go but loving every minute of it. However WHAT SLOBS we have next door! How I wish they would move! I've seen them attempting to clean up and do repairs. We all have high hopes of them getting ready to sell it hahah. As yourselfs I'm looking to put something up so I don't have to look at there trash. Everything imaginable lined up beside there house. Sinks and all. Good graciouc! I've thought of making a cobble stone wall (Home Depot/Lowes sells them) and starting some moss on it with attached antique lights on it. LOVE love the old Victorian era. All those cobble stone streets you know..A white wooden fence maybe but there again is costly and with an pool going up next week not a good choice right now..I like the hunny suckle idea. Is very fast growing and smells good too. Can be picked on the side of the road and replanted at home. Sometimes you just have to BITE THE BULLET and spend the money.

    Maybe they'll get the itch to clean up there place :)
    Usually when a neighbor stars major yard work it tends to rub off on the others. I know this to be true for our neighborhood. I've ALWAYS got some huge undertaking going on here at my place. I've noticed others starting to get out. Some make poor 'copy cat' attemtps hahahha but atleast there doing something.

    Con in beautiful Virginia :)

    Here is a link that might be useful: Just a SMALL bit of what I have going here Click to see...

  • TwoMonths
    17 years ago

    Well, maybe you can get a big mirror and point it the bad neighbors way and let them get their own reflection....
    Make it two sided so you can enjoys your yard doubly also.

    And when you have bad neighbors, smile at them and even wave, they will wonder what you are up to...and you will feel better. I found that doing that to my worst enemies make they less of a problem to me.

  • Holly_ON
    17 years ago

    Different zone here but I've started using Euonomous to cover a chain link fence. Our neighbours have done it and it hides it well.

  • spiritual
    Original Author
    17 years ago

    Thanks everyone for all of your advice. It's been a while since I've been on this and I lost track of what is going on.

    Update. I wound up planting "Heavenly Bamboo" in the front of my house for a screen (about 3 years ago). It's the type that grows about 8 ft high, plants are about 6 ft apart. It works well in sunny or semi-shade that I have to deal with.

    I have discovered that keeping it tidy helps it fill in naturally and grow (I cut back old growth to a few inches above the ground when it starts to look bad). It also has beautiful white flowers in spring & summer, & red berries that birds love in fall winter along with reddish leaves that stay on the plant until the following spring (at least here in zone 7).

    In my back yard I had the same problem. Even though I have very limited carpentry skills, I decided I could put something together with the white lattice panels and trim. I made each panel rectangle about 2-3 ft. off the ground. This has allowed me to plant hostas etc. that get very large and fill in the space. For my first wall (6 panels) I secured them in the ground hole with gravel which works well if your spoil isn't to soggy. I used pressure treated decking boards, screws, corner braces and nails to assemble the whole thing.

    For another section (4 panels) I had to deal with an area of the lawn that has water drain from the rest of the property and not as secure. I used cement to secure these posts (heavy work but worth it).

    To my great supprise I had morning glories cover the fence in partial shade last year. This year I'm going to do the same with moon vine.

    Thanks again,


  • shadygarden_CO
    17 years ago

    Pajaro Gardener, the Cecil Brunner rose idea sounds beautiful and just what I have been wanting to do. Is it on a trellis attached to the fence, or how did you get it to climb? Thanks in advance for any help.

  • Molly Adams
    17 years ago

    miscanthis gigantis (unsure of spelling)

  • adichristi
    16 years ago


    Once these trees get started, you won't even see the house next to you!

    Here is a link that might be useful: Chinese Elm

  • cbarkston
    16 years ago

    Leyland cypress---grows five feet per year. In a couple of years---you won't even know you have neighbors...

  • jazzygardener
    15 years ago

    My idea for a privacy screen to block out my obnoxious neighbor is to build trellis panels about 6 ft tall and attach them to the post of our existing split rail fence. Since I don't have enough of any area to plant trees in certain sections I'm going to weave some grapevines into the trellis and add lots of decorative birdhouses. I think that it will look cute.

  • peaches_turn
    14 years ago

    I know this was started a while back, but i too have the innovative privacy screen issues. My neighbors arent bad, i just cant stand going out into my back yard and every house in a 2 block radius can see our whole yard. Makes you feel like you are under a microscope all the time. creepy. AND to add to this my yard is small. I cant plant trees and hedges and fuller things to make a screen without losing a fourth of my yard. Since its small, space is precious.

    soooo, my idea is this. I plan to start with canna's, hopefully by this fall get some lattice panels put up that are framed. and i just found a new fondness for the "sky pencil" the dark green color with white lattice should look striking. these would be alternated along the fenceline. sky pencil, lattice frame, sky pencil, lattice frame. (you get the idea) That way i can add vines and such to the lattice, and the sky pencil and lattice shapes contrast in a nice way. breaks it up a little. although instead of vines, im probably going to keep my cannas, and just use each lattice section for a different kind/color of canna. all without losing tons of yard space,and for a burst of color during the hotter months.

    anyway hope this idea helps others who have this dilemma with the added problem of a SMALL yard. (mine is probably something in the neighborhood of 40'x50'/60')

  • spiritual_gardner
    14 years ago

    Since posting this question originally, I have solved my problem.

    In the front, I planted Heavenly Bamboo that is now about 6 ft. tall and still growing and filling in.

    In the back, I used white lattice panels, the plastic type. Instead of placing them like I have normally seem (narrow up and down) I have them long. I also constructed the frame so there is a space underneath and have HostaÂs and other plants filling in the space. I mounted the posts in cement.

    I like to do different things in the garden and this fit the bill. Even though I'm not a carpenter, it looks nice. I spend tons of time in the back yard area and entertain in a gazebo. I have the tiny white lights strung along all of the panels and numerous other plants that cover my mistakes.


  • aja2
    14 years ago

    I have lived at my current residence for 25 years. There is a large patch of bamboo at the corner of my neighbor's yard that has been there since before I moved here. It used to cover the back half of my fence but after years of digging it up and driving over it (as this is now our driveway) it is only in the neighbor's yard. It DOES get out of control. The black fabric does not stop it. Unless it is in a container it will grow and grow and grow. Even then it will grow over the container and into the area around it.

    When I was a little girl, we lived in the country (that was over 45 years ago), we had the same kind of cain at the back of our yard. Now it is an unbelievable HUGE patch. I'd say check out the type of bamboo you are considering thoroughly. Even ask people that have planted some and how long it's been planted, how much it spread. Cause we still have to dig up this stuff from around the far fence area every year.

  • charleaf
    14 years ago

    hi all! i'm new here and i really enjoy reading all the posts. i have a privacy issue as well and was wondering if anyone had any inexpensive suggestions.
    i put up livestock fencing a few years ago to keep meddling neighbors' off my property, it runs from front to back. a portion of the fence runs over the lip of my driveway (no privacy there). in my yard i've planted some flowers, shrubs and viney plants against the fence to create a natural backdrop for privacy and beauty but, for the past three years the neighbors have sprayed a heavy duty weed killer that knocks the life out of everything i plant. they go the extra mile to over spray 12 inches onto my property killing the grass too and have made it pretty clear they don't want anything growing near the fence or block their view of my yard. they're always near the fence watching my family and i and i've had it. we haven't spoken since the fence went up (they were really po-ed over it) and any help with getting some privacy would be enormously appreciated. i don't want to see their prying eyes anymore...i'd just love to see some beautiful plants instead for a change.
    -thanks in advance!

  • lamalu
    14 years ago

    Wow, Charleaf, I thought my neighbors were bad but that's unbelievable. I am very sorry.
    I've tried hard to get along with my neighbors but I'm done. My neighbors built their deck 15' off the ground so no matter what I do privacy is out of the question. They too are completely indiscreet about their spying - at times yelling out from the deck to comment on my tomatoes etc. Eventually I'm going to move but for now I've decided not to worry about it anymore. Screw it. Next time they ask me what I'm doing I'm going to say "minding my own business" and walk away. The section of my yard that they can see the most now has compost piles, mulch and stones that I'm collecting. They were proud recently to get cable hookup on their deck so now I can hear their tv when I go out to relax in my garden - so I turn on my own radio when I go out - I might as well listen to something I like if I have to. I have a couple more tricks up my sleeve if things continue - like maybe becoming a nudist - I'm quite sure the sight of my 50 year old body gardening naked will drive them inside! woo hoo! bring it on! If it's war they want...

  • charleaf
    14 years ago

    lol...i love it! lamalu, you're so funny! it's nice to know i'm not alone. things used to be A LOT worst before the fence went up. the first time i planted shrubs to establish my property line they ripped them out while i was at my mother's for the weekend. they also used to mow 15 ft. into my yard saying that my property was theirs which is why the fence went up in the first place. they called the cops on my husband while he was installing the fence because he stepped on their lawn. while built an arbor about a month ago, when they heard the me running the saw the whole family came out of the house to see what i was doing and they invited their guests to watch also Âjust a few instances. it doesn't matter whether i'm hanging laundry or swinging a hammer; they're there watching my every move. would planting a tree or two help block their view?

  • lamalu
    14 years ago

    Oh my! They really need hobbies don't they?
    I came home one day and my weeping mulberry was gone - not even a stump. They claimed they didn't know where the property line was but they were pretty certain of the line when I wanted to cut down the skanky norway maples infesting my yard. They're so weird - they cut down all the french lilacs along the border but let the norway maples grow everywhere!
    I planted a row of 6' arborvitae but it's going to take awhile for them to get tall enough.
    hmn - maybe I should build a deck 25' off the ground and peer into their backyard!

  • gimpytwice
    14 years ago

    We bought 6 arborvities for 25.oo a pc.and for now and in between I planted cannas "austrailia" so it is good and private for now.In the back I'm going to plant hardy clumping Bamboo that grows to 25 feet,that will take care of our animal ,plant hating neighbor.

  • caroleena
    14 years ago

    oh my goodness! as Bill Clinton would say "I feel your pain"....

    i have a back yard neighbor who is a psychotic witch. i have pomeranians and she has the BIGGEST german shepard i've ever seen. when my poms went out for the nature call (about 10 minutes 4 times a day) she said it made her dog bark and called the cops. then my dogs started getting sick whenever they went out..... one i had to give cpr to on the way to the vet.
    so they rarely go out back... but go out front where they have to be watched every second.
    we found some old privacy fencing while curb shopping and propped it up there. i'm going to plant something vicious alongside it. my husband wouldn't let me hook up the electric fence for her to lean on. she sits outside in a chair at night by my fence and spys.....too weird.

  • jasonharrell
    14 years ago

    Can someone please tell me where I can buy any type of bamboo? I have checked at our home depot and lowes and they dont have any. I went online but they want outragous prices for the stuff. You would think with ir growing so fast and be such an aggressive plant it would be cheap. I'm not looking for a truck load just enough to fill a small pot that I have. I know it grows fast and I will have to repot after while I just don't want to pay outrageous prices for it.

    any help would be appreciated thanks and if anyone wnats to sell a small clump let me know.

    Thanks Jason

  • spiritual_gardner
    14 years ago

    Hi Jason,

    Holy Cow! I am amused that my post from '04 is still getting responses!

    Anyway, in '05 I planted Heavenly Bamboo (not a bamboo, it's a shrub with leaves that resemble bamboo). There are a few different varieties, mine is the larger type that grows to about 8ft. I planted them about 6 ft. apart and now have a beautiful screen from my neighbors. I really like it because of the red berries and orange type foliage it has in the winter, white flowers in spring, and bright green leaves in warmer months. I've discovered that separating the branches by hand to keep them from getting tangled with each other helps air flow and prevents disease etc.

    Before I planted the stuff I installed a fence made of white lattice panels. I am NOT a carpenter so what I make looks O.K. but by no means professional. I wound up leaving the side facing the neighbors looking like crap, exposed studs, brackets etc. I never really intended for the fence to be permanent. I dug holes and used large stones to secure it and keep it up right.

    I guess they got tired of looking at the ugly side of the fence, the cleaned up their yard, and I moved the fence to the back (they still have not cleaned this mess up, probably won't after 4 years) and used cement to secure it. My bad edges etc. are covered by vines etc. Everyone says it looks nice!


  • louisde1
    10 years ago

    Bamboo spreads like wildfire, and you may have a very costly job of containing it once it spreads to surrounding areas and neighbore or the county officials demand removal.

  • pattytricia
    10 years ago

    We have a neighbor who built his house across from our's And he works on cars, trucks, tractors, lawn mowers,bulldozers, etc. in the evening and weekends. Someone is constantly coming in & out of his drive. And it is so noisy at times.
    We have a front deck that is right in the sun all afternoon. So we solved our problems with one idea. We got screening fabric from Sam's and put it up in front of the deck. The neighbor and his customers can't see us. But we can see them. And to make it even cooler, we have morning glory growing in front of the deck. It is so nice on the deck now and it is hard to find a seat when the kids are home.

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