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Thursday - July 30, 2009

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


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.


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





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