En EspaÑol

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
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
1 rating

Thursday - March 17, 2011

From: Nassau County, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Trees for privacy in NY
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I am looking for trees native to New York that I can plant in front of my backyard fence that is six feet tall that will not hide my fence or overshadow my east facing garden beds and plants underneath them in the afternoon, but will provide a year-round screen of my neighbor’s property.I want trees w/ erect growing branches that are thin near the bottom and fuller near the top; so, I was thinking of columnar fastigate trees that grow up fast, but not out. How about Lombardy poplar or hornbeam before arborvitaes? Thank you, Mr. Smarty Plants

ANSWER:

It sounds like you know exactly what you want but it is not clear that there is such a tree that grows that way.  Most evergreen trees are wider at the bottom and look somewhat awkward with their lower branches removed.  Single stemmed (one trunk) deciduous trees have the form you are looking for but will not give you a year round screen.

You are right to be thinking about a tree with a fastigiate form and the European hornbeam displays that form more than our native Ostrya virginiana (Eastern hop-hornbeam) and Carpinus caroliniana (American hornbeam) as does the Lombardy poplar (a short lived, European import that we would never recommend planting).

There is a columnar cultivar of Pinus strobus (Eastern white pine) which is the only fastigiate evergreen that comes to mind.

Your other choice would be a small (relatively), vase shaped multistemmed tree.  These are all deciduous and would only provide partial coverage in the wintertime.  Some suggestions are:

Amelanchier canadensis (Canadian serviceberry)

Betula nigra (River birch)

Cercis canadensis (Eastern redbud)

Hamamelis virginiana (Witch hazel)

Magnolia virginiana (Sweetbay)


Ostrya virginiana


Carpinus caroliniana


Amelanchier canadensis


Cercis canadensis


Betula nigra


Hamamelis virginiana


Magnolia virginiana

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Retention of essential oils by Ashe Juniper wood from Austin
May 03, 2014 - I am looking for information on why local Austin Juniper/Cedar trees are so great at retaining essential oils for aromatherapy. I make pendants for necklaces out of our local fallen cedar trees and ...
view the full question and answer

Trees for pool area in Solano County, California
June 02, 2010 - We are looking for trees we can plant with non-invasive roots near our pool. We don't want them to get too big (about 10 feet) because we don't want them to shade out our pool. We also don't want...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screen for pool from Southlake TX
April 21, 2012 - I have a row of 7 live oaks that help block my neighbors two story house. Unfortunately, there is a gap between each tree of about 8 feet wide and 15 feet tall (from ground to the first branches/ leav...
view the full question and answer

Smaller trees for limited space in yard in Austin
March 29, 2011 - Follow up to "I have a choice of three shade trees from the city of Austin. They are Live Oak, Elm, Cedar. Although I am happy to have a free tree, I think the choices are not the best for my home. I...
view the full question and answer

Hedge for steep slope by sidewalk in Wisconsin
August 25, 2008 - I have a fairly steep slope from the sidewalk to my yard. The space is about 48" high, 30" deep and 120' long. I was thinking that a boxwood hedge would fill that space nicely but no one else aroun...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center