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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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Wednesday - February 27, 2013

From: Richmond, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Privacy Screening, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Need recommendations for privacy screen in Richmond, VA
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Hello, I read through the previous posts on privacy screen plantings in the Mid Atlantic region. There was a lot of great information, but I has a specific question that was not answered. I would like possibly incorporate more than one type of tree/shrub into our privacy screen to give it a more professional, landscaped look. Can you recommend species that would go well together? Here are the details: 1. Privacy screen is along lot line and will be approximately 50 linear feet. 2. Area receives full sun. 3. Soil is mostly Virginia clay. 4. We are open to staggering the planting in two rows if necessary, except the first 10 ft of the screen which will be on the side of the house where there is only about 12 ft to the lot line. We were thinking a type of Arborvaitae with something else incorporated in the design, but it does not have to be Arborvitae. Any suggestions? Thanks

ANSWER:

Since you have been looking through our database, you probably realize that one of the more frequent questions we get deals with privacy screens. People often are asking about screens with only one plant species, but there is no reason you can’t have a screen with more than one kind of plant.

To look for plants, let me introduce you to our Native Plant Database which allows you to search for 7,371 native plants by scientific or common name. Scroll down to our Recommend Species Lists and click on View Recommend Species page. Click on Virginia on the map, and you will get a list of 122 commercially available native plant species suitable for planned landscapes in Virginia. The Narrow Your Search box on the right side of the screen allows you to search for tress or shrubs. For example, in the box, select: Virginia under State, shrub under Habit, and perennial under Duration. Check sun under Light requirement and moist under Soil moisture. Click on the Narrow your Search button, and you will get a  list of 7 native shrubs for Virginia. You can repeat this process and change shrub to tree under Habit, and you will get a list of 33 trees for Virginia. Clicking  on the scientific name of each plant will bring up its NPIN page which contains a description of the plant, its growth characteristics and requirements, and in most cases images. As you check out each plant, you can note its size, moisture requirements, and benefit to wildlife.

Here are some plants that I found which might be possibilities.

Wax Myrtle  Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle) ; this plant forms a nice evergreen hedge which might be appropriate for the first 10 feet  of the screen.

Eastern Red Cedar Juniperus virginiana (Eastern red cedar); will form a rather dense privacy screen. There are dwarf varieties available so you don’t have to contend with the potential of 40 ft tall screen.

   Dwarf varieties:

        http://www.hort.uconn.edu/Plants/j/junvir/junvir1.html

        http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/trees-new/juniperus_virginiana.html

        http://www.waynesboronurseries.com/j.html

 Arborvitae Thuja occidentalis (Arborvitae) will form a nice screen and there are also dwarf varieties available.

   Dwarf varieties: http://www.hort.uconn.edu/plants/t/thuocc/thuocc1.html

   More images for Thuja

Here are some flowering plants that you might incorporate in the line of evergreens , or plant in front of the hedge. You would probably need only a couple.

Chickasaw Plum Prunus angustifolia (Chickasaw plum) A non deciduous small tree that would add color and fruit for wildlife.

Allegheny Service-berry Amelanchier laevis (Allegheny service-berry)  A multiple-trunk tree or shrub, 12 to 25 feet tall.

To address your conceern about clay soil, here are some links that may prove helpful

    http://gardening.about.com/od/gardendesign/a/ClayPlants.htm

    http://www.bachmans.com/Garden-Care/divHomePage.html?cnb=GardenCare&categoryCode=02&pageIndex=_pageIndexToken_workingWithClaySoil

   http://www.finegardening.com/how-to/articles/improving-clay-soils.aspx

Two other sources of information that may prove helpful:

Virginia Native Plant Society

Virginia Cooperative Extension   



 

From the Image Gallery


Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Eastern red cedar
Juniperus virginiana

Chickasaw plum
Prunus angustifolia

Allegheny serviceberry
Amelanchier laevis

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