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

Sunday - March 13, 2011

From: Yardley, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Screening trees for PA
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

We are looking to plant some privacy trees in back of our home. Since our neighbor is directly behind us but we don't want to plant something distasteful to our neighbor. Do you have a recommendation?

ANSWER:

It is hard to determine exactly what you are looking for because of the wording of your question.  Is it correct to assume that it could be perceived as un-neighborly to plant a solid wall of green along your back property line?

In that case you can plant groupings of evergreen trees and small deciduous flowering trees that are strategically placed to screen parts of the yard.  Determine which sight lines you would like to block (for example your patio and their deck or their kitchen window or their upstairs window).  Those lines will help you determine which type of tree you need to plant, and where.  Keep in mind that an evergreen tree is generally broader at the base than at the top and a decidous tree is the opposite (and doesn't offer much screen in the wintertime).  Plants that are placed at the property line need to be much larger than those planted closer to your seating area in order to provide screening.  You might want to ask a designer for some help with this (many of the larger nurseries in your area will provide this service if you are buying plants from them).

You live in a part of the country where the possibilities are almost limitless but here are a few suggestions:

Large evergreens:

Chamaecyparis thyoides (Atlantic white cedar)

Ilex opaca (American holly)

Pinus strobus (Eastern white pine)

Thuja occidentalis (Arborvitae)

Ornamental decidous trees:

Amelanchier laevis (Allegheny service-berry)

Cercis canadensis (Eastern redbud)

Magnolia virginiana (Sweetbay)

Oxydendrum arboreum (Sourwood)

Smaller evergreens:

Ilex glabra (Inkberry)

Kalmia latifolia (Mountain laurel)

Morella pensylvanica (Northern bayberry)

And if you are not concerned about screening in the wintertime, the possibilities using deciduous flowering shrubs are almost endless!  If you visit our Native Plant Database and do a Combination Search selecting Pennsylvania, the plant type (tree, shrub and so on) and your conditions, it will generate a list of suitable plants native to your area.  Each plant is linked to a detailed information page.


Chamaecyparis thyoides


Ilex opaca


Pinus strobus


Thuja occidentalis


Amelanchier laevis


Cercis canadensis


Magnolia virginiana


Oxydendrum arboreum


Ilex glabra


Kalmia latifolia


Morella pensylvanica

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Privacy Screening Questions

Privacy Screening Plant for New York Narrow Site
April 20, 2013 - I need privacy screening on the side of my house in Mount Kisco, New York located 40 miles north of New York City. The area gets plenty of sun but is somewhat narrow. What evergreen bushes or trees ...
view the full question and answer

Native trees for privacy screen in New Jersey
April 01, 2008 - Looking for a tree (preferably an evergreen) for a privacy hedge in Whitehouse Station, NJ. Would like a very fast growing tree that is deer resistant. Also the privacy hedge will be planted along a...
view the full question and answer

Plants for pool area in Fort Worth
April 20, 2010 - We have a new pool in our backyard, and now also quite a bit of bare land to go with it. Looking for native grass suggestions and also shrubs/trees that I can plant around the pool area for privacy an...
view the full question and answer

Privacy hedge for Palm Springs CA
July 04, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Pants I have a 6 foot block wall, and my house is elevated, and I need a privacy hedge or tree (even flowering) to create more privacy. I do not want to use Ficus as I hear they can d...
view the full question and answer

Dog-safe Privacy Screen for Ocala, FL
June 25, 2015 - Am desperately searching for fast growing privacy that would be non toxic to dogs in Ocala, Florida (zone 9 I think). Wanted Leland cypress but due to toxicity it won't work.
view the full question and answer

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