Need fast growing, evergreen, hedge in total shade! Help!

ditaroyJanuary 14, 2008

I need help! I have been reading up trying to figure out what I can grow in front of our neighbours ugly chain link fence in our backyard. Their yard has huge old maple trees and a pine tree. Ours has 30 ft tall blue spruces. The result - its a totally shaded spot where I am not sure what will grow!

I want to grow something that will grow fast and create a hedge in order to cover up the chain link fence while creating a privacy hedge for us. Evergreen would be a HUGE bonus! I have read about various creepers and vines but I believe they are all invasive and I have not read anything good about them. So if there are any non invasive types out there, I would like to know about them. Else a hedge would be perfect.

So basically

Fast growing, evergreen, hedge in total shade! Help!

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
laceyvail(6A, WV)

As difficult as it is to think of an evergreen that will grow in the heavy shade you describe, what will really defeat the project is the dryness and lack of nutrients in the soil, mostly caused by the maples' fibrous root system. Perhaps you can put a "facing" of wood or lattice on the chain link fence.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 6:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Dibbit(z7b SC)

I have to agree with Laceyvail, the tree roots are as much a problem as the shade, and a physical barrier might be the best bet. How close are the trees to the fence? If they are more than 40' away, then you MIGHT be able to grow something, although just what I am not sure. Are you trying to block the sight of the fence, or visual access from either side, or noise from either side? And how heavy is the shade - could you easily read a newspaper in there, or would it have to be a large-type book, written in BOLD type?

If you decide to try vines, Anne Halpin's Gardener's Desk Reference lists none for full shade that would be hardy for you. She does list for partial shade: Actinidia arguta, tara vine as hardy to z4 - you might get fruit with a male and a female plant. Akebia quinata, five-leaf akebia is possible, as is Celastrus scandens, American bittersweet - NOT the Oriental one - or try one of the native honeysuckles - they won't be evergreen (but none of the above are either), and probably won't flower well, if at all. Depending on how heavy the shade really is, one of these might grow.

I can't, off-hand, think of a shrub that will fit your needs, but will post back if one comes to mind.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 10:11AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

While I agree that the maple roots will be a problem, it's not an insurmountable one for the right kind of plants; you really need something that can accept dry shade, and the choices are limited. Your success will depend on the distance away from the maples, the *kind* of maples, your ability to get water to the young plants, and your choice of plants for this hedge.

Euonymus kiautschovicus is a non-invasive, fast growing, somewhat lax evergreen shrubby vine that will grow in fairly dense shade. I have it near maples and spruces, and it does fine, but you'll need to mulch well and run a soaker hose along the base of the plants to make sure they get enough water while they're getting established. 'Manhattan' is the most popular cultivar, but I've read that it may not be as hardy as the species (though that's not an issue for me). I have both and they do well here - very easy to root cuttings too, if you have the time for that. They actually have wonderful masses of tiny white flowers that absolutely buzz with insects in summer, even in deep shade, followed by decent pink berries.

I've also had very good luck with yews in deep shade. There are upright ones that will stay fairly narrow, I have some growing along a stockade fence, starting about 10' from the trunk of an old maple, where it's incredibly dry. Same goes for watering, though; soaker hose on a timer will be needed for the plants to compete.

Neither of these plants will grow as quickly as they would in an area without the kind of competition that maple roots provide, but they will grow and cover that fence for you.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 9:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks! I am glad to hear of some possible suggestions! I was really disspointed initially since there was nothing that could be done. I will give the euonymous a shot or even the yews. Hopefully this works since I was rather hoping more for a natural cover rather than a fence since those can be quite expensive.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 10:40AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
elaine_mi(z5 Michigan)

I had a similar problem a few years ago. I hired a local contractor who put in a combination of Eastern Hemlock evergreens, viburnums, fothergillia and oak leaf hydrangea. Added to this are shade perennials such as hosta, astilbe, and iris. The result is great, though not entirely evergreen. I have some trees intermixed in the border including oaks and a maple.

Good luck - let us know what you decide to do!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2008 at 9:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sue36(Z5 Maine)

Hemlock grow well in shade. However, they can be difficult to acquire (at least in my area) due to the woolly adelgid. But maybe that isn't an issue in your area.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2008 at 2:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yews=deer candy - protection - expensive
Hemlock=eventual invasion of wooly adelgids (they stayed away for 5 years, but they found me)

I'd go with the Euonymus suggestion. Lay a soaker hose around the plantings, plan to periodly water it well until established. You'll be pruning it too, but better than ugly fence, or lots of $ spent on additional fencing.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2008 at 4:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Maybe this should be a new post but I have a similar situation. I want to fill a visual hole in my lot border that will stay filled in winter. It's an area totally shaded by a big white pine and a medium-sized silver maple. I'd like to fill the hole between these trees and also the space on the other side of the pine, between it and a (blue?) spruce.

I see some of these suggestions on this post and have also looked up evergreen shrubs that grow in full shade. Are these leafy suggestions actually evergreens (euonymus, holly, etc.)? Or are they just evergreens in areas which don't get as much cold and snow as in MN? I only see coniferous evergreens growing natively here. Which reminds me, if it's a native shrub/tree, that's a plus too :)

So all I'm asking for is a cheap, native, fast-growing, evergreen that will grow in acidic soil in full shade in my zone. I don't think that's such a hard request :-P

    Bookmark   February 29, 2008 at 12:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've been looking around - Gardening in Shade forum might provide a few more ideas.

Sometimes what works for one is a total disaster for someone else, but I've got a spot under some limbed monster Spruce that supports yews and so far the deer herd has thumbed their noses at those, northern developed "Northern Lights" Azaleas, Ninebarks, Barberry (not everyone's favorite, but they do serve a purpose), as well as hostas, astlbe, bleeding hearts, some chunks of Stella d'Oro, forget-me-nots, Siberian Squill, Muscari, and hopefully this spring new daffodils.

Boxwood is supposed to work well in shade too - and will try some around the yard as they seem to crop up routinely at the big boxes. Last year, my new addition was holly, largely in a shady spot. I tend to go for inexpensive items for iffy areas - if they work out, and they often do, you're ahead of the game; if they don't, the expenditure wasn't so great.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2008 at 4:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have an eleagnus (which I'm probably spelling wrong) along my back fence where it is thriving in the shade. It grows fairly fast, too.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2008 at 5:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

gomanson, I don't know how evergreen the Manhattan-type euonymus or the hollies would be in your area, since I'm in zone 7 where they retain all their leaves in winter. You might try your regional forum for more information on that, unless someone else here knows.

You should probably consider moving your proposed screening plants closer into the yard, away from those tree trunks. The problems I've had in establishing screening in shady area have always been compounded because it's so tempting to try to "save space" for the main part of the yard. Dedicating a little more room for your screening plants makes it much more likely that they'll work well in the long run. I can't tell from the photo, but it looks like you're trying to plant right between those tree trunks; moveing out to where the rope is on the ground would still provide the screen and would give the plants a little more space to grow. The visual effect will probably be better, too, looking more like a natural woodsy area than a barrier.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 11:15AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Diggingthedirt, great point about giving more room to a screen. The best foliage screens I see as I drive around have some depth to them (e.g. a staggered double row of spruces). The problem is, that side of my yard is only a few feet out from the garage, and I at least want enough room to walk :) I will go out there tomorrow and see if I can manage to plant something farther out. Thanks for the tip!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 4:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
leslies(z7 No VA)

Not sure which is the main issue - the appearance of the fence or "privacy." Simply in terms of what might survive under all those trees, you could try either eleutherococcus sieboldianus ('Variegatus' is a very pretty shrub and does OK in dry shade) or akebia quinata vine whose exuberance will be muted without access much water. Neither is evergreen.

I have three rhododendrons within reach of the roots of my large maple and two dogwoods and they're doing OK. They look better now that my neighor cut HIS big maple down and they get more light.

Agree with digging about the yews - they'll grow in the basement. They can also get very large, so don't plant them right up against the fence.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 4:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I know these are not fast at all but they are native, and do well in acidic shade -Salal. From what I have read and seen, in deep shade they can get up to 6 feet tall :)

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 1:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We are putting in a patio with a fire pit and during the summer we get the west sun, HOT. I would like to know what we should plant for and a little privacy and fast growing shade tree. I would like to plant next to the patio or even use as a boarder around the patio. I would like to make it look something like tropical.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 7:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Rather than attempting to dig into the soil around some established pines that had lost their bottom limbs and left an open and privacy negating space, I placed Yew [spreading type] on top of the ground in their burlap balls and then mounded humus rich soil around them. I did this in the heat of summer so I kept them well watered until fall. The only problem is that the deer love Yews. I placed a green vinyl coated six foot high wire mesh fence around the entire planting of about seven Yews and it has done the job, albeit slowly.
A native shade tolerant non evergreen but fast growing vine is dutchman's pipe.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 9:05AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

mary .. you might get a few more responses specific to your situation.. if you started your own post.. instead of tagging onto a 3 year old post ...

a picture of your site.. would help me greatly ...

give it a try


    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 9:14AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am also looking for privacy hedge that will get to 6' or taller. For privacy. Spines would be great. A old camellia is thriving. the cedars have died, the crepe myrtle is a ten foot stick looking for sun. Would a toyon work? I'd like drought tolerant. So Cal near Arcadia Arboretum

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 7:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Full shade in zone 5. Are you sure English Ivy is invasive there? Most ivies won't even survive those temps let alone thrive in them. Try 'Thorndale' (zone 4), but under those conditions it'll be pretty slow. If you can cut down some trees for light, a great alternative would be a row of 'American Pillar' Arborvitae. They grow rather fast, but need the sun to thrive.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 10:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

An older post that may help. I have a similar problem with a shady area.
I just put in three Nandina in shade. Not experienced in shrubs but have had many successes without much effort.
I've taken a few drives through the neighborhood to see what does well. I have stopped to ask if a friendly looking gardener type owner is out fussing. First, compliment their yard and plantings!, (grin).

-i purchased before researching...
I have a clumping bamboo from my parents yard that has done well...(Not a spreading one!)
It was a test.

link from page 51...

Here is a link that might be useful: shade

    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 1:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA


I may have missed something in this thread, but you did say it's your neighbor's chain link fence? So whose property is it on? Who maintains it? If it's theirs, they may not appreciate you growing anything on it, or through it. So please elaborate.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 2:31PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Need thorny suggestions
I'm looking for thorny/annoying plants to put under...
Mary Townsend
Will nandina firepower old leaves constantly change color with season?
I want to plant some of these firepower shrubs. I know...
'Don's Dwarf' Wax Myrtle
For me, buying plants is like "hauling coal to...
Illicium simonsii - anyone have experience with it?
I just came across Illicium simonsii at a local nursery...
Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA
Sponsored Products
Donegal Indoor/ Outdoor Black Braided Rug (5' x 8')
Eros Pink Gray Dupioni Silk Shade Ovo Table Lamp
Lamps Plus
Cathy's Concepts Personalized Basketball Jersey Mug - 1129BKJ
$22.99 | Hayneedle
Sonneman Oceana 29" Wide Satin Nickel LED Bathroom Light
Euro Style Lighting
3-Pack Color Negative ISO 800 35mm Film
| Dot & Bo
Beige Window Curtain - Set of Two
$39.99 | zulily
Vortex Pendant by LBL Lighting
$268.00 | Lumens
3/8" Double Cell Light Filtering Perfect Arch. Free Samples and Shipping!
$83.00 |
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™