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Mr. Smarty Plants - Deer resistant, Shaded Privacy Hedge for Wakefield RI

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Thursday - September 12, 2013

From: Wakefield, RI
Region: Northeast
Topic: Deer Resistant, Privacy Screening, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Deer resistant, Shaded Privacy Hedge for Wakefield RI
Answered by: Larry Larson

QUESTION:

We recently removed the dead undergrowth of white pines that were used for privacy. We need advice as to what type of evergreen would be suitable for growth beneath the branches above. It is VERY shady most of the time. I am looking for something that will grow at least 6ft tall and spreading wide. I'll probably need at least 14 plants. This is primarily for privacy from the road (about 150 foot line). Here is the big problem..DEER!! Thank you for your help.

ANSWER:

 OK, Mr Smarty Plants has a few suggestions for you!  My normal process is to use the Wildflower Centers Recommended Species pages for a certain area.  Of course, for you I looked at the “Recommended Species for Rhode Island”.  This didn’t work too well, especially as Evergreen is not a choice, but then I went to the Plant Database directly and was able to successfully search for "Rhode Island, Forb or Shrub, Evergreen, and in the 6 ft. plus height range.

One interesting “but” is that Deer Resistance is not one of those selection factors, so you actually need to read the plants description to see how it handles deer.  This will normally be a “Deer Resistance” comment under Benefits.  The kicker - - None of the plants I found listed for Rhode Island had one of these comments, although I list one below that had a comment that it was valuable wildlife food!  So, with that bit of frustration here’s a good set of plants that meet your requirements in general.

For Shrubs, I found 4 plants, and allowing the herbs  to also be 3-6 feet tall, I found 5 more.  Here are the top candidates with some important comments about each:

Ilex glabra (Inkberry) - 6-12 Ft
Juniperus communis var. depressa (Common juniper)  – 6-12 ft, valuable wildlife habitat and food! and needs sun
Taxus canadensis (Canada yew) – 6-12 ft
Rhododendron maximum (Great laurel) – 12-36 ft   Contains toxic substances
Dennstaedtia punctilobula (Eastern hay-scented fern), Osmorhiza claytonii (Clayton's sweetroot)   Ferns, 3-6 Ft at most
Solidago sempervirens (Seaside goldenrod)   Evergreen Herb, but needs sun

  After I wrote up all of this, I went looking elsewhere on the internet and found a bit more on Deer Resistance.  I was delighted to see that Old Farmers Almanac, had a good piece – and also many other Blogs referenced this piece from Better Homes and Gardens.   I see many favorites mentioned in these, but they are normally smaller than you requested and/or not native to your area.
 

From the Image Gallery


Inkberry
Ilex glabra

Canada yew
Taxus canadensis

Great laurel
Rhododendron maximum

Clayton's sweetroot
Osmorhiza claytonii

Seaside goldenrod
Solidago sempervirens

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