Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
1 rating

Tuesday - October 12, 2010

From: Hampton, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Large shrubs for privacy screen in VA
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

Tonight my husband and I took down two large shrubs about 15' tall and spread across our yard to provide mostly privacy from the road and traffic noise. My question is this, since it's the front of the house, I need privacy, and a nice looking shrub that has height and would provide other gifts like flowers and of course the privacy. I think looking around tonight it might be the leatherleaf viburnums. I know it will take a while to get what I need, the height, and color, plus of course hide the road, but for now, I was thinking a trellis, or maybe even from the corner of the house to the middle of the yard some sort of privacy fence. I have looked at many pictures and know now that tree should have never come down. The previous homeowner had this yard professionally landscaped, and that tree fit was perfect, but it was old, had grown out of control, and was becoming an eyesore. What do you suggest I do for the privacy now?

ANSWER:

Oh dear ... I know that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you look at the place where the tree was!

By now you are used to not seeing the trees and have started to look at the bright side of the situation and the opportunity for a new planting.  You didn't indicate what type of plant it was that you removed nor the conditions (sun/shade, dry/moist or whether the plants are subjected to road salt when you have snow), so you may want tp consult a local nursery for suggestions.

I understand why you are thinking about the leatherleaf viburnum (large, evergreen) but it is not a plant that is native to Virginia (or North America for that matter).  To find a list of plants native to Virginia, visit our Native Plant database and do a Combination Search for Virginia selecting shrubs that will grow to 6-12 feet and then trees in a similar size range. The lists provide links to detailed information pages for each plant.  Your choices will be limited if you have your heart set on an evergreen but you will find a number of interesting and attractive native plants that usually offer a wildlife benefit (nectar for butterflies and bees or berries for birds).

I like your idea of erecting a trellis along part or all of the area to be screened.  Even a fairly open trellis will block the view enough from the road to give you a sense of privacy and it will give you an opportunity to plant vines (annual and perennial).  You can search vines the same way and will find 75 to choose from that are native to Virginia.

Here are a few plants I have selected from those lists.  Once you see them all, you'll be getting out your chainsaw to make room for more!

Large Shrubs

Ilex decidua (Possumhaw)

Ilex glabra (Inkberry)

Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle)

Rhododendron catawbiense (Catawba rosebay)

Stewartia malacodendron (Silky camellia)

Small Multi-stemmed Trees

Amelanchier laevis (Allegheny service-berry)

Hamamelis virginiana (Witch hazel)

Magnolia virginiana (Sweetbay)

Osmanthus americanus (Devilwood)

Styrax americanus (American snowbell)

Vines

Bignonia capreolata (Crossvine)

Campsis radicans (Trumpet creeper)

Clematis virginiana (Devil's darning needles)

Wisteria frutescens (American wisteria)


Ilex decidua


Ilex glabra


Morella cerifera


Rhododendron catawbiense


Stewartia malacodendron


Amelanchier laevis


Hamamelis virginiana


Hamamelis virginiana


Magnolia virginiana


Osmanthus americanus


Styrax americanus


Bignonia capreolata


Campsis radicans


Clematis virginiana


Wisteria frutescens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Privacy Screening Questions

Deer resistant, Shaded Privacy Hedge for Wakefield RI
September 12, 2013 - We recently removed the dead undergrowth of white pines that were used for privacy. We need advice as to what type of evergreen would be suitable for growth beneath the branches above. It is VERY shad...
view the full question and answer

Eight Foot Screen for Austin, TX
September 01, 2011 - I'm looking for a fast-growing shrub to "extend" the height of my fence and provide privacy in my yard in Austin. My lot is pretty much full sun and very dry, mostly clay soil. 8' is my goal. Than...
view the full question and answer

Trees for privacy screen in California
May 31, 2013 - Hi Mr. Smartypants, We are first-time home-buyers of a cute little house and a relatively large lot in Pacific Grove, CA. Unfortunately the neighbors to the north have built a second story with a nic...
view the full question and answer

mixed species privacy hedge in Central Texas
March 24, 2016 - I need to plant a privacy hedge along a fence line. I am in east Austin, blackland prairie soil. The soil is rich, usually at least moist but not soggy, and I find lots of worms when I dig. The fen...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen hedge for screen in Austin
November 02, 2008 - We are looking for a tall, fast growing, drought tolerant, evergreen hedge to run along our ~200' back property line in West Lake, west of Austin, TX. This is at the bottom of a slope, and runs th...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.