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

Thursday - May 05, 2011

From: Washington, DC
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Shrubs for a screen in DC
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

Live in Washington DC vicinity (zones: 7-8). Looking for hardy shrubs to screen a 47 foot long picket fence and provide barrier to neighbor. It is western exposure with sun light. Ideally evergreen, drought resistant, moderate growth, and not susceptible to insect/ disease. Have considered Compacta Holly, Laurel and Euonymous. Any thoughts and suggestions would be appreciated. Many thanks in advance.

ANSWER:

It is a very long picket fence so I expect you would like to plant a mix of different plants. It is not always a good idea to plant a monoculture (many plants, all the same) as it creates an environment where insects and diseases can destroy the entire planting, under the right conditions.

We understand why you would like an evergreen, but there are none that are native to your area that will thrive in your conditions of sun and dry soil.  If you do a Combination Search of our Native Plant Database for DC and select: shrub/sun/dry soil and both 3-6ft & 6-12 ft sizes, it generates a list of 12 suitable shrubs, none of which are evergreen.  If you repeat the search selecting trees 6-12 ft, you get one more, Ilex verticillata (Common winterberry), which is actually a very large shrub anyhow.

So we recommend you consider a deciduous planting instead.  It will be interesting and attractive, easy to maintain and will offer flowers for you and habitat for birds (food and cover).  A few from that list we think you should consider are:

Physocarpus opulifolius (Atlantic ninebark) which is "tough as nails" and has attractive red seeds after the flower is spent

Rhus aromatica (Fragrant sumac) which produces bright red fuzzy berries on the female plants and has great fall color

Rosa setigera (Climbing prairie rose) which will produce a huge amount of blossoms when attached horizontally along the fence and produces bright red rose hips that birds love

Vaccinium corymbosum (Highbush blueberry) that will give you blueberries for your cereal if you get them before the birds do and also has wonderful red fall foliage

Viburnum acerifolium (Mapleleaf viburnum) which produces red to blue/black fruit and turns pink/burgundy in the fall

and of course

Ilex verticillata (Common winterberry) whose females produce red berries that persist along the bare arching stems well into winter and are great for holiday arrangements

Here are some photos from  our Image Gallery:


Physocarpus opulifolius


Physocarpus opulifolius


Rhus aromatica


Rhus aromatica


Rosa setigera


Rosa setigera


Vaccinium corymbosum


Vaccinium corymbosum


Viburnum acerifolium


Viburnum acerifolium


Ilex verticillata


Ilex verticillata

 

 

More Privacy Screening Questions

Shrubs that non-toxic to horses but that they won't eat
October 29, 2011 - I am looking for a low maintenance, low water, green shrub that horses won't eat and will not be toxic to them. I want to hide my neighbors corral and keep down dust on my side. The horses have "l...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrub for hedge in pasture in California
August 15, 2012 - I am looking at putting in a hedge along a pasture between my neighbor and me. I was considering a podacarpus plant about every 4' for 100'. is this a fast growing, full thickness, tall evergreen bu...
view the full question and answer

Privacy Screen for Reading MA
June 27, 2012 - Best tree to grow for a privacy screen - Hello, we recently moved into a new house in Reading and have an open area on the side of our house where we can make a privacy screen from our neighbors. Wha...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for a privacy screen besides Murray Cypress.
October 18, 2011 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I live in NE TX, about an hour east of Dallas on I-20. I hear interstate traffic behind my house, and have a busy street on its left side, and a school adjoining in back. I thi...
view the full question and answer

Looking for plants for a privacy hedge, besides Ficus nitida, in Norco CA.
February 02, 2011 - I am looking to plant a hedge for privacy along my property line. We have horses so I need to make sure that what I plant is not toxic. Would Ficus nitida 'Little Gem' be a good choice? I...
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