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

Wednesday - June 26, 2013

From: Winston-Salem, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Privacy Screening, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Privacy Screening of House Next Door in NC
Answered by: Anne Van Nest


Hello, I live in the house my parents bought in 1971 in Winston-Salem, NC. The house beside me is an eyesore and for sale at a very low price. I am afraid the condition of the house and yard next door will continue to deteriorate or I may end up with undesirable neighbors. I need to put up a privacy screen between my driveway and the yard next door ASAP (hopefully before the house next door sells). What kind of tree or bush grows best for my area, hopefully something fast growing that will provide a good privacy screen? The area is in partial sun.


The first place to go to find a list of potential plants for your privacy screen is our Native Plant Database.  Use the Combination Search feature instead of Recommended Species. This will provide a bigger selection with much more choice to narrow down. The volunteers and staff at the Wildflower Center who maintain the database have partners in different regions to help with these recommended species lists based on what is easy to access in local nurseries.
Under Combination Search, select the following categories: State – North Carolina, Habit – tree, shrub, Duration – perennial, Leaf Retention – semi-evergreen and evergreen, Light Requirement – part shade, Soil Moisture – moist, Size – 12-36 ft. You can narrow down this search further by indicating blooming time and bloom color too if you like.
These search criteria will give you several trees and shrubs to consider then you will have to look at the ultimate width to see if they will fit in your space, how dense of a plant you need, and how tall they have to be to screen your view. Follow each plant link to our webpage for that plant to learn its growing conditions, bloom time, etc. At the bottom of each plant webpage, under Additional Resources, there is a link to the USDA webpage for that plant. Take a look there for more specific details about suitability before you put them on your final planting list.

Some trees and shrubs to consider:

Ilex coriacea (large gallberry)

Ilex glabra (inkberry)

Ilex myrtifolia (myrtle dahoon)

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon)

Juniperus virginiana var. silicicola (Southern red-cedar)

Leucothoe fontanesiana (drooping leucothoe)

Lyonia lucida (fetterbush lyonia)

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle)

Osmanthus americanus (devilwood)

Rhododendron maximum (great laurel)

Prunus caroliniana (cherry laurel)

Taxus canadensis (Canada yew) 


From the Image Gallery

Ilex glabra

Myrtle dahoon
Ilex myrtifolia

Ilex vomitoria

Ilex vomitoria

Highland doghobble
Leucothoe fontanesiana

Fetterbush lyonia
Lyonia lucida

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Osmanthus americanus

Osmanthus americanus

Great laurel
Rhododendron maximum

Cherry laurel
Prunus caroliniana

More Privacy Screening Questions

Can Monterrey Oak be topped into a bush from Austin TX
June 16, 2013 - I received a suggestion to use Monterey oak as privacy hedge by topping the small tree and letting it bush. I can't find any pictures or info on this being done though.
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant, fast growing trees for screening
June 01, 2009 - Deer resistant, fast growing, native plants (trees) as a visual block.
view the full question and answer

Evergreen pet-safe shrubs for house and screening in McKinney TX
April 15, 2010 - Looking for shrub, preferably evergreen, to plant near the house that can handle wet ground and is pet (dog, cat, horse) safe. The area became boggy after we had an underground water leak that is now ...
view the full question and answer

Tall screening tree for Santa Barbara, California
August 20, 2011 - Hi, we live in Santa Barbara, California. We are looking for a tree between 20-30 feet high to block the neighbors two-story house yet the area we have to plant is 3 feet from the fence to the drivewa...
view the full question and answer

Plants for privacy screen in Edgewood TX
September 10, 2009 - Can you recommend a large fast growing tree, shrub, etc. that can give me some privacy from my neighbor across the street that likes to use his binoculars? I live in East Texas on about 10 acres.
view the full question and answer

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