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

Sunday - May 29, 2011

From: Muskego, WI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Evergreens for privacy screen in WI
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

We'd like to add privacy to our backyard with evergreen trees. The problem with this area is it very wet and the ground is soft and mushy until the dry summer conditions. We've rocklined the the area where water runs like a brook when it rains a lot, which has helped direct the rain, but it still is damp and moist.

ANSWER:

You may be disappointed with our recommendations as the suitable evergreen trees are the one that can seem to dominate the natural world around you, such as:

Abies balsamea (Balsam fir) (Images)

Pinus strobus (Eastern white pine)

Picea mariana (Black spruce) 

Thuja occidentalis (Arborvitae)

Tsuga canadensis (Eastern hemlock) (check with your local agricultural extension service before you plant this tree, as it is highly susceptible to attack by woolly adelgid in warmer parts of its native range)

However, they are adapted to the conditions you describe as they are native to your area.

We recommend you use these "everyday" conifers for the backbone of your screen and then add smaller deciduous flowering trees to make the planting more interesting such as:

Amelanchier laevis (Allegheny service-berry)

(which flowers early in the spring, produces berries the birds love and then has interesting orange to red fall colour)

Larix laricina (Tamarack)

(which is a decidous conifer that turns yellow or orange in the fall before it loses its needles)

Ilex verticillata (Common winterberry)

(which will provide an amazing display of red berries as long as you plant a male and a female)

Nyssa sylvatica (Blackgum)

(which has very intense red fall colour)

Sambucus racemosa (Red elderberry)

(which also flowers early and produces very red berries)

Sorbus americana (American mountain ash)

(which produces red/orange berries that persist after the golden/orange leaves are shed in the fall)

If you create your screen using a mixed planting, you will not only have the privacy you need but it will be attractive to look at throughout the year, and will provide much needed wildlife habitat!

Here are some photos from our Image Library


Pinus strobus


Picea mariana


Thuja occidentalis


Tsuga canadensis


Amelanchier laevis


Larix laricina


Ilex verticillata


Nyssa sylvatica


Sambucus racemosa


Sorbus americana

 

 

 

 

 

More Privacy Screening Questions

Looking for plants for a privacy hedge, besides Ficus nitida, in Norco CA.
February 02, 2011 - I am looking to plant a hedge for privacy along my property line. We have horses so I need to make sure that what I plant is not toxic. Would Ficus nitida 'Little Gem' be a good choice? I...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrubs for screen
May 01, 2008 - I'd like your recommendation for an evergreen shrub (flowers would be a nice bonus but not as necessary as the evergreen factor) or small tree with a height hopefully under 12' and a width hopefully...
view the full question and answer

Shrubs for privacy in wet area in Ohio
July 13, 2011 - I am looking for flowering shrubs for Ohio that reach 8-10 feet and can handle wet feet. I am trying to avoid building a wall for privacy and would like to use flowering shrubs instead.
view the full question and answer

Eight Foot Screen for Austin, TX
September 01, 2011 - I'm looking for a fast-growing shrub to "extend" the height of my fence and provide privacy in my yard in Austin. My lot is pretty much full sun and very dry, mostly clay soil. 8' is my goal. Than...
view the full question and answer

Plants for Liberty Hill TX in full sun
April 15, 2008 - We recently bought an acre of land in Liberty Hill, TX. We have a large planting area in the front that is devoid of any plant life. I would like to turn this into a semi shaded area with some annua...
view the full question and answer

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