Screening plantsWhile we are all social creatures by nature, we tend to enjoy our privacy just a little bit more… especially when it comes to our own back yard.  The old saying “good fences make for good neighbors” definitely applies here, but a living screen of beautiful trees and shrubs is far more appealing to the eye than any fence could ever be.  With a cornucopia of plant choices available, utilizing trees and shrubs for screening could potentially be a daunting task.  The following will assist any novice or seasoned gardeners make the best choices.

Whether your screen of plants is for privacy, creating boundaries, or just blocking an undesirable view, simple, yet careful planning and preparation will organize your thoughts and lead you to the appropriate decisions.

Consider the following questions when planning:

  • What sight level requires screening?
  • How much room is available for planting?
  • What are the cultural conditions of the proposed planting area?
  • Does the screen need to be evergreen?

Knowing how high you require the screen to be and how much space is available to plant in are vital when choosing the appropriate plant.  Low screening plants would be those that can grow to, or be maintained between 4 and 8 feet.  Medium screening plants fall in the 8 to 20 foot range and high screening would be plants growing over 20 feet.  Please see the list below for suitable choices.

Equally as in important are the cultural conditions of your planting space – namely the sunlight and soil conditions.  Plants that thrive in shade and moist soils will certainly not thrive, or even survive, in all day sun and dry conditions, and vice versa.  Also, your setting will play a role in choosing appropriates plants as well.  Exposures to wind, existing buildings, structures, and other hardscapes can affect the environment making some choices ideal, while leaving others as mistakes.

At first glance, an evergreen can appear to be the only choice when creating a privacy screen; and rightfully so as they will provide coverage all year.  However, in situations where an evergreen is not necessary, a deciduous plant can offer added ornamental value with flowers, attractive berries and/or vibrant foliage colors.  Deciduous plants are also more economical (in most instances), and tend to be easier to grow and maintain then their evergreen counterparts.

The following is a list of recommended trees & shrubs for screening:

Evergreens:
Western Red Cedar – Thuja plicata
Japanese Cedar – Cryptomeria japonica
Norway Spruce – Picea abies
White Pine – Pinus strobus
Holly – Ilex spp.
Leyland Cypress – Cupressocyparis leylandii
Schip Cherry Laurel – Prunus laurocerasus ‘Schipkanensis
Arborvitae – Thuja occidentalis
Hinoki Cypress – Chamaecyparis obtusa
Upright Yew – Taxus spp.
Manhattan Euonymus – Euonymus kiautschovicus ‘Manhattan’
Upright Boxwood – Buxus spp.
Deciduous:
Red Maple – Acer rubrum
Upright Hornbeam – Carpinus betulus
Linden – Tilia ssp.
Callery Pear – Pyrus calleryana
Kousa Dogwood – Cornus kousa
Privot – Ligustrum spp.
Crape Myrtle – Lagerstroemia ssp.
Ninebark – Physocarpus opulus
Forsythia – Forsythia x ‘Lynwood Gold’
Panicle Hydrangea – Hydrangea paniculata
Oakleaf Hydrangea – Hydrangea quercifolia
Lilac – Syringa ssp.
Butterfly Bush – Buddleia davidii
Rose of Sharon – Hibiscus syriacus
Leatherleaf Viburnum – Viburnum rhytidophyllum
Doublefile Viburnum – Viburnum plicatum var. Tomentosum

**Meet Rich Abate this Saturday, September 14th at 11am for our free seminar ‘Plants for Privacy.’