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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - March 20, 2012

From: Peachtree City, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Privacy Screening, Shrubs
Title: Plants for pool privacy from Peachtree GA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We currently reside in Georgia and have a pool surrounded by a fence. However, because our house is located on a hill, my neighbor on the left side can very easily still see my backyard and we can see theirs. We were wondering what tall shrub or trees we can plant that won't lose too many leaves and with short roots that won't damage the concrete surrounding the pool. We are considering palm trees but these still won’t give me the privacy that I need.

ANSWER:

We were all ready with several suggestions until you threw in the pool. The concrete of the pool structure and walkways around it and the fact that you don't want to be continually cleaning up plant waste greatly complicates that. What we would suggest  is not tall trees, but dense shrubs at eye-level for privacy. Shrubs would also be better in terms of not needing such wide-reaching roots to support a large, heavily-topped tree. All woody plants, shrubs and trees are going to shed leaves, needles, blooms, berries and twigs, not to mention birds who will come for berries and leave the waste behind on the poolside deck. 

Without knowing what your property layout is, and the location of the dirt for these plants, about the best that we can do is recommend some shrubs native to your area, and direct you to our webpage on those plants. You need to check the amount of sunshine on the area daily, and choose plants based on that. Also on the webpage you can learn the projected height of a plant, whether it is a low or high user of water. It is getting late in the season to be planting woody plants, as we recommend shrubs and trees in the South be planted in November to January when the plants are dormant. If you must plant them now, do it soon, and be prepared to water them deeply  by sticking a hose down in the dirt and letting it dribble until water comes to the surface. Unless you are getting regular rains, this should be done twice a week until the shrubs are well established. We will check each of our selections to make sure it grows natively in Fayette County, west central Georgia. You can do your own search by going to our Native Plant Database, specifying the amount of sunlight you have, the height range you want, whether it should be evergreen or deciduous, etc.

You will also need to consider the dirt you have, the width of the space and what kind of soil it is. It is always a good idea to work a good quality compost into the soil, both to raise the level, help with drainage and make nutrients available to the tiny little rootlets. From our Step-by-Step articles, here is one on How to Plant a Tree. Just call your shrub a "short tree" and it will work out fine.

Shrubs for Privacy Native to Tye County, Georgia:

Aesculus pavia var. pavia (Scarlet buckeye)

Amelanchier arborea (Common serviceberry)

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Calycanthus floridus (Eastern sweetshrub)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (Common buttonbush)

Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf hydrangea)

 

From the Image Gallery


Scarlet buckeye
Aesculus pavia var. pavia

Common serviceberry
Amelanchier arborea

American beautyberry
Callicarpa americana

Eastern sweetshrub
Calycanthus floridus

Common buttonbush
Cephalanthus occidentalis

Oakleaf hydrangea
Hydrangea quercifolia

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