Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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

Privacy shrubs and trees that are safe for horses in California
June 16, 2012 - What type of privacy shrubs/trees can I plant that are safe around horses? I live in the central valley in CA. Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrub for hedge in pasture in California
August 15, 2012 - I am looking at putting in a hedge along a pasture between my neighbor and me. I was considering a podacarpus plant about every 4' for 100'. is this a fast growing, full thickness, tall evergreen bu...
view the full question and answer

Fence Shrub for Sugarland, TX
June 08, 2015 - Hello I live in Sugar Land TX, I am looking for a fast growing shrub to plant along my six foot wood fence for a privacy screen. There is not a lot of room for them to grow in width but there is pl...
view the full question and answer

Screen of Thuja Occidentalis on fire-damaged property in Bastrop TX
May 04, 2013 - I want to plant a screen of Thuja Occidentalis on the east side of our driveway. It is in the burn area of Bastrop, TX. None of our trees survived. Will Thuja Occidentalis grow here? I saw some specim...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screen for Pace Florida
March 10, 2014 - We live in the Florida panhandle and I wondering what we could use as a natural fence line between our property and the neighbor's. I love the look of oleander, but upon research found it to be toxic...
view the full question and answer

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