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

Replacement for grass under non-native weeping willow from Yorba Linda CA
April 24, 2012 - What would be a good replacement for the grass currently growing under a weeping willow? Something requiring low maintenance, the problem is with mowing over and around the roots.
view the full question and answer

Different shades of green in Taxodium distichum (bald cypress)
June 05, 2008 - I have two bald cypress trees 50 feet apart, but there was very different soil in the two holes. One was a clayey soil and the other was much more the Austin limestone soil. The trees are about 2 ye...
view the full question and answer

Foundation garden in shade in Durham, NC
April 29, 2009 - I'm trying to replant a 3'x8' garden near the foundation of our house in Durham, NC. This part of the yard gets little, if any, sun and is mostly clay. I've tried adding compost and soil conditi...
view the full question and answer

Plant called cow shade or cow weed that is poisonous
July 25, 2008 - There is a plant called cow shade or cow weed, not exactly sure. It kills whitetail deer. I would like to know the name of the plant and the specifics. If you could help me it would be greatly appreci...
view the full question and answer

Shaded Trellis Plants for Georgetown TX
May 14, 2011 - What native plants work well on a trellis that will be placed in an area that remains shaded most of the day?
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