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
2 ratings

Thursday - June 23, 2011

From: Matawan, NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Shady shrubs for an ugly fence in New Jersey.
Answered by: leslie Uppinghouse

QUESTION:

What type of tree or shrub can I plant in 07747 NJ to cover an ugly fence that gets little or no sun. Thanks

ANSWER:

The best way to find a variety of plants that will work for your situation, is to utilize the recommended species section of our website. Here you can look up native species that are commercially available for your state. Once you have the full list of plants recommended for New Jersey, narrow your search, with the criterias of shade, shrub, and or, tree. With these found lists you can look through the selections and pick out the plants you like best. 

When considering a shrub or tree for an area near a fence you have to be careful to research the maximum size of the plant. You can do this by clicking on the plant name or photo, this will give you the details that you need and photographs of what they will look like fully grown. You want to plant your shrub or tree far enough away from the fence so that when this plant has matured it isn't squashed on one side or pushing too hard against the fence. It is also neighborly to consider what or who is on the other side of that fence. Try to be consciences of how adding a tree especially, might change your neighbors conditions in their yard; blocking light in their vegetable garden, would be a good example.

Ilex opaca (American holly) would be a good choice. This holly does very well in even a deep shade. It is evergreen and can take pruning. In the winter it is especially nice to have for the berries. Berried sprigs from a holly can last a surprisingly long time out of water and make wonderful wreathes during the holidays. Thuja occidentalis (Arborvitae) is an evergreen that does well in crowded spaces so if your area does not have a lot of room, you can plant this tree fairly close to the fence. In doing so, it will actually grow more upright than if you plant it farther away. Kalmia latifolia (Mountain laurel) is another evergreen option, although this plant needs some horizontal room to really look its best. It has lovely flowers which is a plus for plants in the shade. Rhododendron maximum (Great laurel) is an evergreen Rhododendron. This too, looks best if you have some room for it to grow wide as well as tall. It is a dense rhody and if this works for your space, you will never have to see that fence again. 

There are many lovely flowering understory trees and shrubs that would work with your conditions, but many of them are deciduous, meaning they won't have leaves through the winter. You can use these and add other perennial shrubs and flowers in combination to have coverage all year long. So don't discount the idea of grouping some plants together to solve the problem. Play with the search options and see what you come up with.

 

From the Image Gallery


Mountain laurel
Kalmia latifolia

Great laurel
Rhododendron maximum

American holly
Ilex opaca

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Shade tree with non-aggressive roots for next to pool in The Woodlands TX
April 26, 2011 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants. We live in Spring, TX and are looking for a full-sun shade tree to plant in a large planter (about 6'x6') next to our pool. We want the tree to provide shade for our full a...
view the full question and answer

Need Shade Trees for Entry in Poway, California
January 14, 2011 - Hi - Our front door gets a lot of afternoon sun, so we'd like to plant a couple of shade trees near the entry way. Unfortunately we don't have much room between our entry path and the driveway, so...
view the full question and answer

Butterfly garden plants for partial shade in Georgia
August 14, 2009 - I have a patio that is brick with 2 small areas for planting. The area has partial shade and soil is moist and looks dense. Currently there is an Ivy Bush in the back left corner which I like and ha...
view the full question and answer

Fast growing shade trees safe for livestock in pasture in Nashville GA
May 13, 2010 - I would like a list of fast growing shade trees that are safe for cows and horses in a pasture.
view the full question and answer

Flowering plants for shade in St. Augustine FL
May 25, 2009 - I would like to know what flowering plants I can purchase that grow in a shaded area in St Augustine Florida
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