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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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Thursday - August 21, 2014

From: Morrisville, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Privacy Screening, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Looking for a Privacy Barrier Plant for NC
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I am trying to determine the best plant for a privacy barrier for my area in NC that has clay soil. I have a 6 foot high fence but need something 12 feet or taller. It has to be something that does not grow out but will grow up due to a small backyard.

ANSWER:

The first place to go to find a list of potential trees or shrubs for your privacy barrier 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 - NC, Habit – Tree, Duration – Perennial, Light Requirement – Sun, Soil Moisture – Moist, Leaf Retention – Evergreen (for winter privacy) and Size – 6-36 feet. Once you have this list of trees, then it you can also do this same search for Shrubs. After this it is time to further refine your criteria and look at their shape and form since you are looking for a narrow, upright form.

The best trees and shrubs to consider from this search are:

Trees
Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) Select plants that have a single trunk that will grow into a small tree. Female plants produce large amounts of bright red, persistent berries. You must have both male and female trees to have good fruiting. The leaves are dark green and small. Can be trimmed into a tall hedge. Berries are poisonous and produce a low toxicity if eaten by humans. Tolerant of clay soil.

Prunus caroliniana (cherry laurel) A dense shrub or small tree to 20 feet. Leaves are smooth and evergreen. Flowers are white in early spring. Fruit is fleshy and black persisting into winter. A good, dark green visual screen or large hedge plan for the Southeast.

Shrubs
Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) A multi-trunk, evergreen shrub that can reach 20 feet in height. Light olive-green foliage with a spicy fragrance.  Pale blue berries occur on female plants in the winter. Excellent screen plant. Must have both male and female plants to have reliable berries.

 

From the Image Gallery


Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Carolina cherry-laurel
Prunus caroliniana

Carolina cherry-laurel
Prunus caroliniana

Carolina cherry-laurel
Prunus caroliniana

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

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