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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - July 03, 2014

From: Bethesda, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Privacy Screening, Shrubs
Title: Privacy Hedge for Maryland Porch
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I am working on a screen/fence, which is a barrier hedge between our house and our next door neighbor's house to add privacy to our screen porch and dining area, especially in winter. The fence would be 6 feet tall and needs to be dense. It runs east-west and is partially under sun and good soil. Any info on what plants would be a good choice would be appreciated.

ANSWER:

The first place to go to find a list of potential shrubs for your privacy hedge is our Native Plant Database. Use the Combination Search feature instead of Recommended Species. This will provide a bigger selection with much more choice to narrow down. The volunteers and staff at the Wildflower Center who maintain the database have partners in different regions to help with these recommended species lists based on what is easy to access in local nurseries.
Under Combination Search, select the following categories: MD, Habit – shrub, Duration – Perennial, Light Requirement – Part Shade, Soil Moisture – Moist & Dry, Leaf Retention – Evergreen and Semi-Evergreen and Size – 6-12 feet.

A few good shrubs were the result of this search criteria. If you would like more choices, expand your search criteria to include deciduous shrubs. Here are the evergreen or semi-evergreen choices:

Inkberry (Ilex glabra), 6-12 feet tall, glossy leathery foliage year round, small white flowers that produce black berries into winter. No spines on the leaves. May have male and female flowers on separate plants. Tolerates heavy pruning. Good hedge plant. Seeds are toxic if ingested – watch if there are children around. Attracts birds.

Wax myrtle (Morella cerifera), to 20 feet tall, multi-trunk, evergreen shrub, olive-green foliage with a spicy smell, excellent screen plant, male and female flowers on separate plants, drought and flood tolerant, will defoliate at 0 degrees F. and releaf in the spring, tolerant of saline conditions. Can be pruned informally into an informal screen. Attracts birds.

Canada yew (Taxus canadensis), 3-6 ft tall and 6 ft wide evergreen shrub with dark green glossy needles, bright red fruit.



 

From the Image Gallery


Inkberry
Ilex glabra

Inkberry
Ilex glabra

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Canada yew
Taxus canadensis

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