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Saturday - May 30, 2009

From: Manchester, NH
Region: Northeast
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Shrubs or trees for privacy screen in New Hampshire
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I am looking to put up a living privacy wall in my yard. My husband and I just bought a house in Derry, NH, and have a rather large backyard (approx. 1 acre), which seems to get continuous sun. We have neighbors on both sides who live approximately 50 feet away. We want privacy and we want it quickly. What is the best bush/tree/shrub to plant that would grow tall enough, wide enough, and dense enough to provide us privacy from the neighbors and that won't cost a ton of money? Also, how far apart should we plan to plant said bush/tree/shrub from each other?


We get a lot of questions from people looking for privacy barriers, living fences, etc. We feel we need to put a Warning Label on our answers. We can certainly try to find some plants, probably shrubs, that will grow in your area in New Hampshire. What we cannot do is guarantee they will do what you are hoping for. One factor is the sun. We consider "sun" to be 6 or more hours of sun a day, "part shade" 2 to 6 hours of sun, and "shade" less than 2 hours. We assume you are looking for something evergreen for year-round coverage, which will be even harder to find in New Hampshire. 

We make these warnings because we would hate for you to spend the money and effort putting in shrubs (fencing in an acre is a lot of shrubs), and then find they would not flourish and fit your purpose. We would suggest you visit some nurseries, price what it would cost just to buy the shrubs, plus hiring labor (if you are not going to do it yourself) to put them in, and installing hoses or waterlines to keep them irrigated. The larger the shrub, the higher the cost, and the more difficult the transplanting. Small shrubs will take that much longer to achieve the effect you're looking for. Compare that cost with fencing of some sort that will serve the same purpose and doesn't have to be watered. Frankly, we don't know which would be better, every situation is different, but much to our chagrin, native plants are not the perfect solution to every problem. We will be recommending only plants native to New Hampshire, and hopefully that will be a less expensive proposition. However, nowadays so many plants are grown in mild climates, in greenhouses, and shipped in season to local nurseries, we're not even sure you would save on transportation costs.

In terms of how far apart to plant the trees or shrubs, that varies with each plant, and also with the speed of coverage you are looking for. We will look at both trees and shrubs, including some that are not evergreen. You can follow the plant link to the individual page on each plant and find out what the estimated height and/or width will be, what the growing conditions are, etc. We found six shrubs, all deciduous, and two trees, both evergreen, that might serve. You can go to our Native Plant Database and select other criteria to find alternatives to our suggestions.

Shrubs for privacy screen in New Hampshire 

Lindera benzoin (northern spicebush) - deciduous, 6 to 12 ft. tall, blooms white, yellow in April, medium water use, sun, part shade or shade

Viburnum dentatum (southern arrowwood) - deciduous, 6 to 8 ft. tall, blooms white May to July, moist, acidic soil, sun, part shade or shade

Physocarpus opulifolius (common ninebark) - deciduous, 3 to 10 ft. tall, blooms white, pink May and June, low water use, sun, part shade or shade

Salix humilis (prairie willow) - deciduous, 6 to 12 ft. tall, blooms yellow, green purple, brown March to May, high water use, sun

Spiraea alba (white meadowsweet) - deciduous, 3 to 6 ft. tall, blooms white June to September

Trees for privacy screen in New Hampshire

Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar) - evergreen, 30 to 40 ft. tall, low water use, sun, part shade, shade

Thuja occidentalis (arborvitae) - evergreen, 30 to 40 ft. tall, medium water use,sun, part shade, shade

Lindera benzoin

Viburnum dentatum

Physocarpus opulifolius

Salix humilis

Spiraea alba

Juniperus virginiana

Thuja occidentalis



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