Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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?

Share

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Thursday - March 17, 2011

From: Nassau County, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Trees for privacy in NY
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I am looking for trees native to New York that I can plant in front of my backyard fence that is six feet tall that will not hide my fence or overshadow my east facing garden beds and plants underneath them in the afternoon, but will provide a year-round screen of my neighbor’s property.I want trees w/ erect growing branches that are thin near the bottom and fuller near the top; so, I was thinking of columnar fastigate trees that grow up fast, but not out. How about Lombardy poplar or hornbeam before arborvitaes? Thank you, Mr. Smarty Plants

ANSWER:

It sounds like you know exactly what you want but it is not clear that there is such a tree that grows that way.  Most evergreen trees are wider at the bottom and look somewhat awkward with their lower branches removed.  Single stemmed (one trunk) deciduous trees have the form you are looking for but will not give you a year round screen.

You are right to be thinking about a tree with a fastigiate form and the European hornbeam displays that form more than our native Ostrya virginiana (Eastern hop-hornbeam) and Carpinus caroliniana (American hornbeam) as does the Lombardy poplar (a short lived, European import that we would never recommend planting).

There is a columnar cultivar of Pinus strobus (Eastern white pine) which is the only fastigiate evergreen that comes to mind.

Your other choice would be a small (relatively), vase shaped multistemmed tree.  These are all deciduous and would only provide partial coverage in the wintertime.  Some suggestions are:

Amelanchier canadensis (Canadian serviceberry)

Betula nigra (River birch)

Cercis canadensis (Eastern redbud)

Hamamelis virginiana (Witch hazel)

Magnolia virginiana (Sweetbay)


Ostrya virginiana


Carpinus caroliniana


Amelanchier canadensis


Cercis canadensis


Betula nigra


Hamamelis virginiana


Magnolia virginiana

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

A Tree for Infant Daughter in Katy, TX
December 04, 2010 - Mr. Smarty Plants, We would like to plant a tree to "grow with" our infant daughter. We think she will enjoy measuring herself against it year after year, and will feel a sense of pride as we care...
view the full question and answer

Native evergreen tree for horse pasture in New Jersey
April 05, 2009 - I just pulled out a laurel that was hiding a stand pipe in our horse paddock. We had trouble this winter with the horses eating it when there was little grass to graze on. Can you suggest an evergre...
view the full question and answer

Native Plants for a water collection pit in Bronson, FL
August 22, 2013 - I live near Gainesville, FL in a low rural area with many cypress swamps around & bought this 5 acres 2 years ago. About 15 years ago a pit was dug on my 5 acres to give the rainwater somewhere to go...
view the full question and answer

Disagreement with HOA on raised beds placed beneath mature oak from Tequesta FL
April 05, 2014 - I have mature 30 year old oak trees on my property and I put a raised bed under each with very good soil and I used pavers for retaining the soil about about 1.5 ft high. I planted a perennial begonia...
view the full question and answer

Why is my 3 year old Redbud not flowering in San Marcos, TX?
March 24, 2010 - My Cercis canadensis var. mexicana, purchased at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, is 3 years old, very robust, but has never bloomed. Any explanation?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.