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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 - October 09, 2013

From: Rumson, NJ
Region: Select Region
Topic: Privacy Screening, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Natural Privacy Planting for New Jersey
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I have a question about privacy plantings in New Jersey (Monmouth County). We have a wooden fence around the perimeter of backyard with some various older trees. We wanted to start anew and wanted to know what would make sense to plant along the fence to create a nice natural privacy. We were thinking hollies but others have said they might not be best so close to the fence?

ANSWER:

The first place to go to find a list of potential plants is our Native Plants 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 – New Jersey, Habit – Shrub, Duration – Perennial, Leaf Retention – Evergreen, Light Requirement – Part Shade (or change this to full sun if the existing plants are further away), Soil Moisture – Moist, Size – 6-12 & 12-36 ft.
These search criteria will give you some evergreen shrubs and trees to consider. 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.

Small trees or large evergreen shrubs to consider for screening your fence are:
Taxus canadensis (Canada yew)  3-6 ft tall
Ilex glabra (inkberry) 6-12 ft tall  
Morella cerifera (wax myrtle)  6-12 ft tall   
Rhododendron maximum (great laurel) 4-15 ft tall

Most of these plants require an eventual growing space that is equal to their height, so you are on the smart to consider how far from your fence these plants are planted.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Canada yew
Taxus canadensis

Inkberry
Ilex glabra

Inkberry
Ilex glabra

Inkberry
Ilex glabra

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Great laurel
Rhododendron maximum

Great laurel
Rhododendron maximum

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