En EspaŅol

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
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - April 16, 2011

From: Morganville, NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Trees
Title: A privacy hedge for NJ
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

My backyard faces a highway in New Jersey. 18 years ago White Pines were planted for privacy, but they have since grown and now there is no privacy at all as the tree trucks are rather bare. Is there a privacy hedge I can plant in front of the trees, so that I do not have to remove them, yet I can get the full coverage from the highway I am looking for? The area is on a bit of a hill and there are drainage problems and has south western exposure.

ANSWER:

You do have a bit of a challenge on your hands and I am a bit confused by your description, so I am not sure how precise my answer can be, but it may point you in the right direction.

You say the area is on a bit of a hill and there are drainage problems.  Usually a slope means there is excellent (some time too much) drainage but perhaps the plants will be sitting at the base of the slope where the water collects.  Those would be two entirely different situations and plant selection would be quite different in the two scenarios.  Also when you say the exposure is southwestern, does that mean that to have the hedge planted between your house and the pine trees, they would be oriented northeast and be shaded by the pine trees.  Or are you thinking you will plant the hedge on the far side of the pines so as not to take up any more of your back yard?

Whatever you plant will have to compete with very established tree roots for water and nutrients.  It will be difficult to dig holes large enough to plant in so you will want to start with small, relatively inexpensive plants.  In any case you will want to select a "large shrub" or a very "small multi-stemmed tree" instead of a tree.  You are already living with the reason why. 

Our Native Plant Database will generate a list of plants native to NJ that fit your critera by doing a Combination Search.  Select: NJ/shrub/your soil moisture and light conditions/and a height requirement of 6-12 feet.  The list it generates has links to detailed plant information pages.  If you have your heart set on an evergreen hedge you may be disappointed to know that there are only two on the list:

Ilex glabra (Inkberry)

Taxus canadensis (American yew) which deer love to eat

If you are willing to have less of a screen in the wintertime there are a number of large deciduous shrubs that will not only do the job but will also provide much needed wildlife habitat with flowers and fruit and fall color too.  You might want to install a fence that is not entirely solid between the hedge and the pines to prvide more privacy and a "backdrop" for the shrubs.

You should consider:

Clethra alnifolia (Coastal sweet pepperbush) which has a spicey sweet fragrance and clear yellow fall color

Cornus sericea (Redosier dogwood) whose bright red twigs give winter interest

Hamamelis virginiana (Witch hazel) which flowers in winter and has yellow fall color

Ilex verticillata (Common winterberry) which loses its leaves but has red berries along the length of its branches (as long as you plant a female and have a male nearby)

Morella pensylvanica (Northern bayberry) whose leaves turn tan but stay on the plant most of the winter

Viburnum opulus var. americanum (American cranberry bush) which has great fall colour and red berries that birds love

Here are some photos from our Image Gallery:


Ilex glabra


Clethra alnifolia


Cornus sericea


Hamamelis virginiana


Ilex verticillata


Morella pensylvanica


Viburnum opulus var. americanum

 

 

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Native evergreen tree for horse pasture in New Jersey
April 05, 2009 - I just pulled out a laurel that was hiding a stand pipe in our horse paddock. We had trouble this winter with the horses eating it when there was little grass to graze on. Can you suggest an evergre...
view the full question and answer

Trees poisonous to horses from Landrum SC
April 15, 2012 - Please tell me if the following trees are poisonous to horses: hickory, beech, poplar, and redbud. Thank you very much.
view the full question and answer

Care of huisache tree (Acacia farnesiana)
September 25, 2007 - I bought a huisache tree, about one ft. tall, last spring. How do I prune, stake, and care for it as it grows? Do they usually bloom in Brownwood, Tx ?
view the full question and answer

Live oak roots and house foundation in Austin
March 01, 2009 - Our builder left a live oak on our lot that is 7' from our foundation. The tree is now around 18' tall with a 20" circumference. Will this tree eventually cause damage to our foundation and is th...
view the full question and answer

A Crabapple for the Austin, TX area.
May 06, 2014 - I am in search of crab apples. Don't they grow in Austin? I can not seem to be able to locate any here. Any suggestions?
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