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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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Saturday - March 09, 2013

From: Alton, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Privacy Screening, Grasses or Grass-like, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Trees and other plants for privacy along lake shoreline
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We are purchasing a new home that has a 2 acre lake. We would like to add some plants/trees for privacy around the shore line. Can you suggest something that would fill in nicely and is strong enough to withstand erosion at the waters edge. Our new home is located in central Illinois.

ANSWER:

The easiest way to find candidate native plants for your lakeside is by using the Illinois Recommended list that contains commercially available plants for landscaping in your area.  You can use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option to pick various kinds of plants under GENERAL APPEARANCE (e.g, Shrub, Tree, Grass/Grass-like), SOIL MOISTURE and any of the other criteria you wish.  You should read the information under GROWING CONDITIONS on the individual species page to be sure that they match your site.  Not all the plants on the Illinois Recommended list are known to grow in Madison County, but you can check their occurrence there by scrolling down to the bottom of the species page to the ADDITIONAL RESOURCES area and clicking on the link under USDA.   This will take you to the USDA Plants Database page for the species.  If you click on Illinois on the Distribution Map there, you will get a map of Illinois showing the plant's occurrence by county.  

Here are a few choices from the Illinois Recommended list for shrubs, trees and grasses that should work well on the edge of your lake.

SHRUBS/SMALL TREES

Amorpha fruticosa (Indigo bush)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (Common buttonbush)

Cornus racemosa (Gray dogwood)

Hibiscus laevis (Halberdleaf rosemallow)

Hydrangea arborescens (Wild hydrangea)

Lindera benzoin (Northern spicebush)

Rubus occidentalis (Black raspberry)

Salix discolor (Pussy willow)

 Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (Coralberry)


TREES

 Acer saccharinum (Silver maple)

Betula nigra (River birch)

Cercis canadensis (Eastern redbud)

Fraxinus pennsylvanica (Green ash)

Prunus americana (American plum)

Tilia americana (American basswood)

 

GRASS/GRASS-LIKE

Carex stipata (Owlfruit sedge)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wild rye)

Pascopyrum smithii (Western wheatgrass)

Typha latifolia (Broadleaf cattail)

 

Below are photos from our Image Gallery of some of the choices above.

 

From the Image Gallery


Indigo bush
Amorpha fruticosa

Common buttonbush
Cephalanthus occidentalis

Halberdleaf rosemallow
Hibiscus laevis

Black raspberry
Rubus occidentalis

Pussy willow
Salix discolor

Silver maple
Acer saccharinum

Eastern redbud
Cercis canadensis

Green ash
Fraxinus pennsylvanica

Awlfruit sedge
Carex stipata

Canada wild rye
Elymus canadensis

Western wheatgrass
Pascopyrum smithii

Broadleaf cattail
Typha latifolia

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