Help! Need shade-loving tall evergreen privacy hedge

sksgrad(Upstate NY)April 19, 2007

We have the misfortune of having our backyard butt up against a school gymnasium. We have tall maple trees that pretty much obscure our view of the school during the summer months, but in the winter we have a dismal view (complete with discarded gym equipment). We'd like to plant a fast growing, shade loving tall privacy hedge back there among the maples. So, we need something that keeps its leaves during the winter and grows at least 8' tall (the taller the better). We also need something that won't overtake our maples. It is a pretty heavily shaded area because of the building shadow and the maples. We also would like something that is pretty low maintenance. Does anything like this exist?! We were thinking about firethorn but are worried that the thorns might be too bad. We were also researching Viburnum. Any other thoughts would be greatly appreciated! (we are on the border of zones 5 & 6)

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If I were you, I would buy bamboo and try that.
Just ask on Bamboo forum for some suggestions.
There really isn't an evergreen to grow under trees that will keep it's leaves all winter with absolutely no sun.
The bamboo is, and you can get any height that your heart desires.
The upkeep on bamboo isn't all that bad at all.
Do some research on this beautiful evergreen screen and see how others use it, you will be pleasantly surprised.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2007 at 12:37AM
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You could try euonymous. Some varieties will grow in pretty heavy shade and some grow without the creeping roots. It can be invasive so you you should investigate that before buying.


    Bookmark   April 20, 2007 at 4:46AM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

If you don't want to try some rhodendrons (although they often take a long time to get to the size that you desire if not already mature , ie., decades), since in your colder zone, shade-tolerant evergreen shrubs are often harder to maintain and/or may not be reliabl hardy, you may want to just try yews (Taxus spp.). They can get fairly tall after awhile but can be pruned to size for a natural look or can be sheared to shape. Some of the other shade-tolerants like aucuba and cherry laurels may experience winter damage enough to make them a nuisance to look at. They are also slower growing but can reach to 6ft or more after awhile.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2007 at 2:21PM
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sksgrad(Upstate NY)

Thanks for all the suggestions! I spent some time researching them and going to nurseries this weekend. There seems to be a lot of conflicting info out there. When we were at one nursery we spoke to someone who seemed to be very knowledgeable and thought we'd settled on a Hicks Yew. We were told it was very fast growing and would create a great screen for us. When we got home and started looking it up we found sites that said it is a slow grower and others that said it was faster. How do we know?!

I also looked up bamboo - what I read said it could be pretty invasive. Would it hurt our maples?

Although I like the look of euonymous, the varieties I saw seem to be fairly short.

Any thoughts on blue princess holly?

As you might be able to tell, I am far from a green thumb!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 9:44PM
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My favorite local reference on such things (Weston Nurseries Horticultural Reference Book), says Hicks is fast growing "one of the best for hedges in this region". They list it as 12 ft in 10 years. 20 ft mature. Capitata, another popular upright Taxus is a slow growing pyramidal. "10' in 10 years. 35 feet mature." Also listed as good for hedging.

I got blue princess hollies for a similar situation, but I think they might be too slow-growing for your needs. Not sure how tall they get overall. Also, I don't know how they would compete with mature maple tree roots. Isn't that supposed to be a tough growing area? I *only* have mature pine roots to contend with. I've heard maples are worse.

We know yew's will grow anywhere!

You could try to mix it up with a little of each and maybe try a thuja too, going for a more diverse look. That's some extra insurance in case one dies. Doesn't ruin the hedge.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 10:57PM
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I think you'll regret bamboo for the rest of your life. It attracts aphids, and they create a sticky sap all over everything. Bamboo leaves cover the ground constantly, and the bamboo that I inherited was constantly going to seed, and more often looked dead than alive. The roots invaded my sewer system, and it spreads, even though I had the clumping kind.
I had a similar problem, searching for evergreen shade shrubs, and even if you find one that is relatively fast growing, it won't grow so fast in the shade. Nandina domestica can get relatively tall, thrives in shade, grows pretty fast, and would look nice among japanese maples, but I believe it's zone 6, so check and make sure it'll survive if you're on the edge like that.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2007 at 12:29PM
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Judy_B_ON(Ontario 5B)

How about a 6ft wooden fence with 2ft lattice topper. Will do well in the dry shade of maples, year round privacy, no maintenance and will keep stray basketballs and children out of the yard.

With boards on the diagnoal and with the topper it should be attractive but you could also grow vines like virginia creeper, clematis or pipevine on it.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2007 at 3:19PM
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ziggy___(z5/6 PA)

Wild rhododendrons Rhododendron maximum and mountain laurel Kalmia latifolia are fairly large native evergreen understory shadeloving shrubs. They like acid soil though, but as long as you're not in a limestone region, you should be alright. I've had nandina and it is marginal and not evergreen this far north. Arborvitae or hemlock might work. They probably would not catch up to the maples, and both withstand pruning.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 2:41PM
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I have two amazing concrete pots by my front door and I cannot find any evergreen shrubs to go in them. I get mostly shade, but the sun peaks through every now and then to provide sunlight. I use to have spiral topiaries in them surrounded by creeping jenny, but since they need sun they did not do so well. The tips of the topiaries turned orange and crispy. I want something to really accent my front doors since it is the entrance to my house. I was thinking of the fox tail fern (in last resort), but it dies out in the winter. I love exotic plants. Does anyone have any suggestions? I feel like I am going crazy!

    Bookmark   June 22, 2008 at 8:14PM
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Your problem is going to be the maple trees. Very shallow and profuse root system. Just about impossible to get a hand trowl in the earth beneath them. Here's the advise given to me...

Here is a link that might be useful: dry shade

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 12:49PM
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I have the same problem you had (have). I would love to know what you eventually did and did it work. I have mainly shade/woods in the back yard
i would love more privacy. i planted norway spruce 8 footers and they died, (expensive) , i just planted 5 native rhododendrons 5 foot form Oregon but they dont even begin to give us privacy. I think i'm gonna try holly, hemlock maybe yews. this is getting expensive and ideas? thanks for your help. i'm in northern new jersey zones 6-7

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 4:33PM
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We had a similar situation in our backyard. We planted arborvitae, which did very well along our side fence, in pretty dense shade. However, in the past few years they have been decimated by deer. If you don't have a deer population passing through, arborvitae should work well. We used Canadian Hemlocks along our back property Line, which also has a significant amount of shade and competes with other trees. They grew quickly, but after their third year, they were attacked by wooly adelgid (an aphid-like disease), and in spite of our efforts to save them, they are looking pretty bad, and I need replacing. I'm told that Hemlocks are not susceptible to disease, but my experience was not good.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 10:47AM
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We planted a Hick's Yew to block a gap in a fence-- It's in dense shade and was slow to start, but is now growing quickly and filling in nicely. Also makes a nice background for prettier plants like the rhododendrons (whichi will probably be quite leggy in the shade).

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 11:04AM
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