En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - July 30, 2009

From: Hudson, WI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Privacy Screening, Shrubs
Title: Trees and shrubs in Wisconsin
Answered by: Janice Kvale

QUESTION:

I live in Hudson, WI, just across the border from Minn/St Paul and would like to create a privacy screen between my front yard and my neighbors yard. Right now it's full sun, but I want to plant a couple of trees as well (probably maples). I don't like the formal look of a hedge, and would like something that is interesting in the winter as well. I have lots of space. I would also be interested in planting a variety of plants. I'm new to this area, so I'm not very familiar with the plants of the north.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants gets around and has been traveling the highways and byways of the upper Midwest in search of native plants for your specific needs. Envision a background of evergreen trees which will continue the privacy you seek in winter after the deciduous trees have shed their leaves. Since you have a lot of space, you can plant in layers with taller trees in back and attractive shrubs in front. You don't indicate prevailing winter wind (let's assume north), but your trees and shrubs may serve as a windbreak or a snow fence as well so take care with placement.

For the evergreens, consider mid-size (30-60 ft.) varieties such as Thuja occidentalis (arborvitae), Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock), Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar), and the 3-6 ft high Juniperus communis var. depressa (common juniper). Mix your choice of deciduous shrubs with or in front of the evergreens to give your space a natural woodland appearance and avoid the uniformity of a hedge. The Amelanchier arborea (common serviceberry) and Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac) vary between 15-25 ft. The sumacs are stunning grouped together. Shrubs that average 6-12 ft. are Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush), Corylus americana (American hazelnut), Cornus sericea (redosier dogwood), and Viburnum opulus var. americanum (American cranberrybush). You will enjoy the dogwood in winter as the red branches are brilliant against the white snow. To fill in the spaces at about 3 ft. are the above-mentioned juniper, Diervilla lonicera (northern bush honeysuckle), and Athyrium filix-femina (common ladyfern).

Acer rubrum (red maple) is a great tree for Wisconsin, and so colorful in the fall. So include a couple of them. Search the nurseries for them in the fall to see their red color. You can find local sources for maples and our other recommendations at the Wildflower site, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources or the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The U. S. Department of Agriculture can direct you in tree planting. Good luck!


Thuja occidentalis

Tsuga canadensis

Juniperus virginiana

Juniperus communis

Amelanchier arborea

Rhus typhina

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Corylus americana

Cornus sericea ssp. sericea

Viburnum opulus var. americanum

Diervilla lonicera

Acer rubrum

Athyrium filix-femina

 

 



 

 

More Privacy Screening Questions

Evergreen screen for newly constructed metal building
March 31, 2010 - Neighbor built a 12' tall metal building right by my gate. I want to screen it with fast-growing evergreen natives. I have lots of ashe juniper on my property, but none where I need it now! Can AJ...
view the full question and answer

Fast-growing evergreens for privacy in Center, TX
March 30, 2010 - I live in East Texas and am looking for a fast growing evergreen for a privacy screen around my backyard. The area gets partial sun and the soil has a lot of clay in it.
view the full question and answer

Evergreen Privacy Hedge for Long Island
June 29, 2012 - I live on Long Island and want a privacy evergreen hedge partial sun.
view the full question and answer

Sources for Ilex shrubs from Boca Raton FL
April 29, 2013 - Where can I find Ilex plants in the Boca Raton, FL area? I would like to use them for hedges.
view the full question and answer

Fast-growing screen for New York
June 04, 2010 - I need a fast growing screen to put along my fence due to undesirable neighbors who moved next door to my summer place. Small lot: 25'x25' . The side is south and the lot is partially shade w sandy...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center