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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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Sunday - February 08, 2009

From: Rutland, VT
Region: Northeast
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Privacy screen around pool in Vermont
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am looking for a plant or tree that doesn't lose its leaves or needles that can offer privacy around my pool but not grow tall enough to block out the sun in the early and late hours. Would an evergreen variety be a good choice? Also an affordable price is part of the criteria, due to me having to plant enough to go around the pool fence.

ANSWER:

An evergreen would be an excellent choice, although you probably don't need that much privacy around your pool in Vermont in January. However, all plants, evergreen or deciduous, replace their leaves or needles at some point during the year. With some, there is just constant attrition year round; with others, they drop big time at the first cold snap. Either way, you will have to do some cleanup pretty regularly to keep those leaves or needles out of your pool and filter. Also, you need to consider the roots of whatever you choose. You didn't say what would be the distance between the plants and the pool, but trees have roots that can extend 3 times their height, and can cause damage to foundations, pipes and walkway surfaces. We will try to find a shrub, evergreen if possible, that will give you about 6' in expected height, and will not have invasive roots. We have no way of determining cost of these plants, as prices are determined by the plant, the area in which you live, and general pricing practices there. We will, however, provide you with access to native plant nurseries in your area that you can contact for availability and pricing. We will recommend only plants native not only to North America but to the area in which you live. Natives are already accustomed to the climate, and will require less water, fertilizer and maintenance. 

We are going to go to our Recommended Species section, click on Vermont on the map, NARROW YOUR SEARCH and select "Shrubs" under Habit. We will take a look at the selections recommended and find you a choice of several we think would work for you. To find suppliers for these plants, go to our Native Plant Suppliers section, type in your town and state in the "Enter Search Location" box and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and landscape and environmental consultants in your general area. 

SHRUBS FOR VERMONT

Ilex glabra (inkberry) - evergreen, 6 to 12 ft. tall and wide

Viburnum dentatum (southern arrowwood) - deciduous, 6 to 8 ft. tall

Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush) - evergreen, 6 to 12 ft. tall

Cornus sericea (redosier dogwood) deciduous, 6 to 8 ft. tall, very attractive red stems in winter


Ilex glabra

Viburnum dentatum

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Cornus sericea

 

 

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