Explore Plants

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
    
 

Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - May 11, 2010

From: Cumming, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Evergreen shrubs or small trees for privacy in Cumming GA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a eight foot fence in my back yard. My back yard is full of trees and is very shady in the late spring and summer months and in the winter when the leaves fall is very bare. I am looking for some way to screen out my neighbors as when you are in the house you can look out the windows and it feels like my neighbors are living in my house. Can you suggest a tree that would grow very quickly? I put in some Leyland Cyprus but I am afraid they will not get enough sun during the growing season. Also considered Bamboo..but the bamboo may go through the fence on the other side unless I buy the clumped variety and then I would have to buy a whole lot of them. Or thought of a evergreen vine that I would grow along the fence but would require some lattice on top of the fence to grow to a much higher height than the fence. Securing this might be an issue from blowing down from the wind. I am in zone 7. Thanks so much for any suggestions.

ANSWER:

From About.com: Forestry Reconsider Planting Leyland Cypress in Your Yard, we extracted the following information:

"This rapidly-growing tree quickly outgrows its space in a typical yard unless properly and regularly trimmed. Leyland cypress only lives for twenty to twenty-five years. I've found that trees left to grow large may have limited root support and are the first to blow down during high winds. You should consider the work needed to maintain a Leyland cypress before planting."

Having said that, and admitting that the Leyland Cypress is a non-native hybrid and has some disadvantages, we don't know that we would cut down and take away already established trees, especially if they are where you think they will do the job you need done. It does need full sun, and requires a great deal of maintenance to keep it in check. If you don't have full sun for the trees to grow in nor the gardening energy to keep it pruned and under control, then you had probably better replace them with something else.

In terms of using bamboo, please don't do that. It is non-native, fast growing and predatory. It will take over your garden, your neighbors' gardens and your life if you are not careful. See this article from eHow on How to Get Rid of Bamboo. Our suggestion for getting rid of it is-don't plant it!

We are trying to visualize your situation; you say your yard has lots of trees and is very shady in warm weather, giving you the privacy from near neighbors that you desire. So the problem would seem to be, gaining that privacy in winter when the other trees are bare. You don't really need a hedge, and you already have 8 ft. of fence, so you need to survey exactly where the "holes" in the privacy are in the winter. A vigorous shrub or small tree, trimmed up as it grows into tree shape, would surmount the fence with a green crown, without crowding the other trees lower. This doesn't happen overnight, however, and in the meantime, that shrub/tree is going to need at least some sunshine and room to grow. If, for instance, you position such a plant closer to windows in your house, that will more readily close off your view of your neighbor's windows, and vice versa. We will look in our Native Plant Database for some trees or shrubs native to Georgia that we think might work for you. Follow each plant link to the page on that plant in our Native Plant Database to learn other characteristics and care.

Evergreen Shrubs or Small Trees for Cumming GA:

Ilex opaca (American holly) and Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) - both of these shrubs/small trees can grow in sun, part shade or shade, are evergreen and can make attractive dense-canopied trees

Magnolia virginiana (sweetbay) - part shade, relatively fast-growing, is considered semi-evergreen but would probably be evergreen in Zone 7, north central Georgia

Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurelcherry) sun or part shade, 15 to 20 ft., seeds, twigs and leaves all poisonous so not appropriate for garden accessible by children or pets

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

 

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Plants resistant to white-tailed deer from Austin
April 01, 2013 - Could you tell me whether American Beautyberry and Blackfoot Daisy are usually eaten by our Austin white-tailed deer, or not? I get different answers in different publications. It would be great to ...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping on South Padre Island
June 07, 2008 - I'm in charge of landscaping at my beachfront condo in South Padre Island and find the wind, salt air, and heat challenging for growing almost anything. We would like to incorporate native plants, b...
view the full question and answer

Removing Texas cedar Juniperus ashei from Blanco River banks
February 26, 2014 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Should cedar trees be removed from our Blanco River banks to prevent them from sucking too much of our precious water before it makes it into the river system? If so, what s...
view the full question and answer

Chlorosis in yaupon from San Angelo TX
April 08, 2012 - Thank you for your information on the yaupon holly. We just finished clearing out the mulch and the red ground cover that popped up. I will quit watering it as much as the rest of the plants. Our y...
view the full question and answer

White flowers to plant in front of evergreen tree screen in Altoona PA
June 15, 2010 - I have planted about 30 evergreen trees (as a screen). I would like to plant a row of low maintenance whitish flowering bushes or low maintenance large flowering plants in front of this row. Any sug...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.