Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - October 09, 2013

From: Rumson, NJ
Region: Select Region
Topic: Privacy Screening, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Natural Privacy Planting for New Jersey
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I have a question about privacy plantings in New Jersey (Monmouth County). We have a wooden fence around the perimeter of backyard with some various older trees. We wanted to start anew and wanted to know what would make sense to plant along the fence to create a nice natural privacy. We were thinking hollies but others have said they might not be best so close to the fence?

ANSWER:

The first place to go to find a list of potential plants is our Native Plants Database.  Use the Combination Search feature instead of Recommended Species. This will provide a bigger selection with much more choice to narrow down. The volunteers and staff at the Wildflower Center who maintain the database have partners in different regions to help with these recommended species lists based on what is easy to access in local nurseries.
Under Combination Search, select the following categories: State – New Jersey, Habit – Shrub, Duration – Perennial, Leaf Retention – Evergreen, Light Requirement – Part Shade (or change this to full sun if the existing plants are further away), Soil Moisture – Moist, Size – 6-12 & 12-36 ft.
These search criteria will give you some evergreen shrubs and trees to consider. Follow each plant link to our webpage for that plant to learn its growing conditions, bloom time, etc. At the bottom of each plant webpage, under Additional Resources, there is a link to the USDA webpage for that plant. Take a look there for more specific details about suitability before you put them on your final planting list.

Small trees or large evergreen shrubs to consider for screening your fence are:
Taxus canadensis (Canada yew)  3-6 ft tall
Ilex glabra (inkberry) 6-12 ft tall  
Morella cerifera (wax myrtle)  6-12 ft tall   
Rhododendron maximum (great laurel) 4-15 ft tall

Most of these plants require an eventual growing space that is equal to their height, so you are on the smart to consider how far from your fence these plants are planted.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Canada yew
Taxus canadensis

Inkberry
Ilex glabra

Inkberry
Ilex glabra

Inkberry
Ilex glabra

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Great laurel
Rhododendron maximum

Great laurel
Rhododendron maximum

More Privacy Screening Questions

Screening plants for Alaska
March 28, 2009 - Just purchased a house and want more privacy along the fence lines. Which plants would work well in the cold environment but provide privacy without taking over the yard.
view the full question and answer

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

Privacy screen for pool in California
November 24, 2009 - Hi, We have new neighbors overlooking our pool and peering into our house. We want to put up a privacy screen along our back fence that runs the length of the pool, but the border running along the ...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for privacy screen in Austin
March 11, 2008 - I would like some suggestions for plants to form a privacy screen between our backyard and our neighbor's. The site is shady, under old Texas Ash and pecan trees, and is located in North central Aust...
view the full question and answer

Non-Toxic Hedge for Wisconsin
December 17, 2015 - What would be a good non-toxic for dogs, privacy hedge about 3-6 feet tall for Wisconsin climate zone 4b?
view the full question and answer

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