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Monday - February 15, 2010

From: Moscow, ID
Region: Midwest
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Privacy screen in Idaho
Answered by: Anne Bossart


Hello Mr. Smarty Plants, I need to add privacy to a chain link fence. The fence is shaded by large trees.They add shade from up high but little privacy at fence level.What would you recommend I plant to cover my fence.I am open to anything, vine, shrub, whatever will give privacy and grow well in the shade. I live in North Idaho, we have fairly cold Winters and hot Summers.Thank you for your help!


This is a bit of a challenge as you are dealing with two issues: shade and dry soil.  Large shade trees are a huge asset but they can out-compete grass and other plants a gardener would like growing underneath them. It can be tough to get plants established in these conditions but not impossible.  You will have to hand water them until they are well established and keep an eye on them in drought conditions.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the promotion of native plants and landscapes.  That means that we can only recommend plants to you that are native to your area.  If you visiit our Native Plant database and do a Combination Search by selecting Idaho and then "dry" and "shade" conditions you will see that the choices are somewhat limited.  You are hoping to cover a fence and provide some privacy, so you are probably looking for evergreens to fit the bill, but you will see there is only one.

Ultimately, your choices will be limited by the selection of plants available in your local nurseries, but here are a few plants we have selected from the list.


Amelanchier alnifolia (Saskatoon serviceberry)

Mahonia aquifolium (hollyleaved barberry)

Rhus glabra (smooth sumac)

Rosa nutkana (Nootka rose)

Symphoricarpos albus (common snowberry)

You will have difficulty finding a vine (except poison ivy!) that will grow in these conditions but if you have at least two hours of sunlight you might look for these.


Clematis columbiana (rock clematis)

Parthenocissus vitacea (woodbine)


Amelanchier alnifolia

Mahonia aquifolium

Rhus glabra

Rosa nutkana

Symphoricarpos albus

Clematis columbiana




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