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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.

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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 - March 02, 2011

From: Holmdel, NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Trees
Title: Privacy Trees for New Jersey
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

My neighbor elevated a row of white pine between our houses at least 20 feet high leaving me with NO privacy and a row of ugly lollipops. What trees can I plant that will be fast growing and deer resistant?

ANSWER:

  Ahhh, that sounds pretty ugly.  Mr Smarty Plants understands your distress.  The general process we use to recommend a nice native that should fit the situation is to use the recommended species page, then use the “Narrow Your Search” function to see what might appeal.

When I select “New Jersey” and a height of 12-36 feet, I get 17 possibilities.  Of these:

   Cercis canadensis (Eastern redbud) is the only tree that explicitly lists moderate deer resistance.  There were two representatives from the Dogwood family [Cornus].  They are Cornus alternifolia (Alternateleaf dogwood) and Cornus florida (Flowering dogwood).  

         
Cercis canadensis
                        Cornus florida

   I found a few more candidates that listed “fast growing” as a characteristic.  There were two species from the Prunus genus,  Prunus serotina (Black cherry) and Prunus virginiana (Chokecherry). Take note though, that Prunus are considered poisonous.  This may lead it to be deer resistant as it is primarily the effect of seeds and leaves on livestock that is of issue.  If this one looks like your preference, you might might  want to review what they have on Prunus in the Poisonous Plants of North Carolina Database or in the Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System and compare this information to your situation.  Another candidate, Rhus copallinum (Winged sumac), was noted as fast growing, but also as a deer browse.

         
Prunus virginiana
               Rhus copallinum

The following four trees interested me as possibilities, but did not explicitly quote “fast growing” or deer resistance as specific traits.
·          Sassafras albidum (Sassafras)
·          Asimina triloba (Pawpaw)
·          Malus coronaria (American crab)
·          Pinus virginiana (Virginia pine)

                   
Sassafras albidum
             Asimina triloba             Pinus virginiana

  A very good source for information on New Jersey native plants is the New Jersey Native Plant Society.  This link takes you to their home page, which leads you to contact information, horticultural questions, lists of natives by county, etc.. And, finally, you should contact the Rutgers University Monmouth County Extension Office, which has horticultural information for your area, contacts with Master Gardeners and other resources that can give you closer-to-home information than we can.

 

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