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?


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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - April 11, 2013

From: Kenosha, WI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Privacy Screening, Trees
Title: Replacement evergreens under power line in Wisconsin
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I have to replace evergreen trees in a privacy screen due to borer damage. The screen is below power lines so the replacements cannot be tall. I would like use bird and pollinator friendly replacements that are evergreens. I am in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The soil is good with no drainage issues. Thank you


MGE (Madison Gas & Electric) has a brochure, Power Planting—How to Select and Plant Trees Near Power Lines, with guidelines for planting trees near and under power lines.  The brochure gives recommendations for various trees; but you should be aware that many of their recomendations are NOT native plants.  However, under their "Evergreens", they have recommendations for two Wisconsin native trees with information about several smaller cultivars for each.

MGE also has a Tree Choice and Care page where you can search for trees native to Wisconsin that are evergreen.  On the "Advanced Search" page I selected Tree Names and Cultivars, Evergreen, and Native to WI.  For the other choices I left it at "Any" except for Sun where I selected "Full Sun, Partial Shade and Shade" and Plant Type, "Trees and Shrubs".  Here are the other trees, in addtion to Eastern red cedar and arborvitae, that resulted from the search:

You can do a similar search in our Native Plant Database using COMBINATION SEARCH and choosing "Wisconsin" from Select State or Province, "Tree" from Habit (general appearance) and "Evergreen" from Leaf Characteristics.  This will give you several other choices that are either very large, slow-growing trees with few (or no) dwarf varieites available and one—Juniperus communis (Common juniper)—low-growing variety.  There is also one tree that is not a Gymnosperm, Maclura pomifera (Osage orange).  It now grows in southern Wisconsin but probably originated in Arkansas and/or Texas and is not really a good candidate for your screening hedge.

All the trees suggested above are Gymosperms and, as such, are non-flowering plants that are typically wind pollinated.   Birds, however, are attracted to them for their cones for food and for shelter in their branches.  Eastern hemlock also is described as attracting butterflies and moths.


From the Image Gallery

Eastern red cedar
Juniperus virginiana

Thuja occidentalis

Eastern hemlock
Tsuga canadensis

Eastern white pine
Pinus strobus

More Privacy Screening Questions

Plants for pool privacy from Peachtree GA
March 20, 2012 - 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...
view the full question and answer

Shade trees for Tucson AZ
May 25, 2012 - I need to plant some "fast growing" trees or shrubs on my southwest yard in order to reduce the heat in my bedroom. What do you suggest? I live in Tucson, Arizona. Thank you in advance. I'm...
view the full question and answer

Plants to keep children out of yard
view the full question and answer

Native trees for privacy screen in Central Texas
October 24, 2007 - I live in the hill country outside of Austin,TX in somewhat rocky terrain. I wanted to plant a tree for a privacy screen to hide a neighbor's house. I was considering a Leland cypress. What are yo...
view the full question and answer

Privacy plantings in Texas
August 16, 2008 - Our home currently has a 4' chain fence. We are a family of 7 with younger aged children and are looking for more privacy. In lieu of a replacement fence, what would you recommend planting to provi...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center