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

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
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

Privacy screen from Temecula CA
May 04, 2013 - I live in Temecula and need a fast growing tree by our pool that is good to block neighbors house.
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

Evergreen large shrub/small tree for screen in Houston
May 26, 2010 - I live on the west side of Houston Tx. I need an evergreen large shrub or shorter tree between myself and a busy neighborhood road. There is a power line above this so we would like something that e...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for plants to form a privacy hedge in Charleston, WV.
April 05, 2011 - Mr. Smarty Pants, I live in zone 6 and an looking for an evergreen privacy type hedge that grows no taller than 10'-12'. I am not interested in any boxwood type of hedge. The evergreens would be ...
view the full question and answer

Shrubs/trees for screen
August 07, 2008 - I need several trees/tall shrubs for a screen well away from the house. The important height range is in the 4-7' range for effective screening. Soil is caliche rich but can be amended, sun will be...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center