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Screening Shrub advice and questions

Posted by erinf83 (Ontario) (My Page) on
Thu, Feb 14, 13 at 9:39

I've posted in the landscaping section as well but thought I might try these waters as well.

I moved into a house and need some privacy that a fence won't accomplish. I've attached a photo of the space in question and since this is winter and this photo is taken from my dinette, an evergreen shrub is pretty much all I will consider (unless someone can educate me otherwise!)

The twiggy tree/shrub to the left I believe is a lilac and the only other thing back there is a little weeping japanese maple....I've ripped out everything else (ground cover).

At first I was considering a Leyland Cypress since its fast growing and dense but then the height I think would be too much for this little garden. I've also considered Rododendrons and Moutain Laurels but they are too slow growing for what I am after (still contemplating a B&B of this though). Others I have consider were a Hicks Yew, but I run a home daycare and I'm too nervous to put that in. Finally, I'm contemplating a Redtip Photinia but read they are hardy from 6-9 and I'm barely in zone 6 (I'm in the Niagara/ St. Catharines region) and am wondering if I can pull this one off.

The garden is in the south behind the house. It is blocked between a small shed (west) on my property and a shed (east) on my neighbours but is open to the south and north. The area gets mostly shade as there are a few large mature trees in the yard that block the sun but it does get sun in the late afternoon once the sun is in the south where the road faces. The soil around here is also heavy in clay. There is also a dip in the land where the tree/shrub would need to go. It never has standing water though. Ideally I would like to keep the Japanese Maple.

Any help is greatly appreciated!!

Other questions I have on shrubs:

Can you plant outside of your zone by 1 or 2? What are the consequences?

What are the consequences if you plant a full sun shrub in a part sun/shade area?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Screening Shrub advice and questions

Here is a photo of the same garden from the back deck where the outside dining is, a better view of the jap. maple

RE: Screening Shrub advice and questions

I doubt the Photinia will work. It'll get killed down and look ratty.
You have some challenging conditions. Soggy clay, nearly full shade and you want fast growing evergreen in zone 5.

the little maple will keep growing too. Probably not get past 5 feet wide in the next 6 years though- but something to think about.

I guess to me, the obvious choice is an arborvitae. They are really common around here in the Home Depots/lowes in the spring so you could buy them already 6 feet tall for $30 or $40 bucks a piece. they tolerate some shade, like to have water and accept some clay.

To answer your zone and sunlight questions:

planting below your zone by 2 will either result in a plant that loses all it's foliage or dies over winter. It will prevent it from getting anywhere growth wise at the very least.

The sunlight question is that if you plant a full sun plant in shade it probably will dwindle. Get lanky. Not fill in with foliage. Eventually possibly die. It won't bloom if it is a bloomer.

This post was edited by lola-lemon on Thu, Feb 14, 13 at 20:51

RE: Screening Shrub advice and questions

I want to be clear on what you're blocking and from what angle(s). Do you want to block the lights of traffic coming down the road? From both angles of your pic?


RE: Screening Shrub advice and questions

From the second picture it looks to me as if it it would be best to move the maple and put your evergreen in its place. Trying to put something between the lilac and the maple would-be too much of a squeeze.

I can't help on zone appropriate plants but if you're concerned about the toxicity of yew you need to check anything you put there. Both rhododendron and Kalmia are toxic. As are a great many other plants, albeit it many only mildly.

RE: Screening Shrub advice and questions

can you link us to your landscape forum post.. did they come up with anything???


RE: Screening Shrub advice and questions

I've attached a link to post in the landscaping section...not much help there. I've gotten a lot of good feedback from this post, so thank you all.

I think my final decision I am working with is conifers (different colours, sizes and shapes), starting with a row of Emerald Green arborvitae in the back to build a privacy screen. The arborvitae suggestion brought on a bit of love for the conifers which I initially didn't have. Further research into them made me discover some that I can't resist not having in my yard including but not limited to: Chamaecyparis Rubicon and Spirited, Juniper Gold Cone and Picea Abies Rydal. There are a couple other areas in my yard where I need privacy and I think the conifers is a good choice since I think they will do well in my zone and they will add winter interest. Plus I have a large evergreen tree in my yard already so adding the conifers will just add some unity.

I'll move the japanese maple if I need be...and it does seem a though I will need to do it, which is fine. I just hope I don't kill it!!

I am going to post in the landscaping forum post with some pictures of the whole yard and a quick birds eye view of what I want the shape of my gardens to look like...If any of you have time please take a peek over and add any inputs on shrubs!

Here is a link that might be useful: Post in Landscaping section

RE: Screening Shrub advice and questions

When I first bought the home I am in now, I also had a bias against Arborvitae (thuja). There was a row of them separating my yard and my neighbors for privacy.
the neighbors also have arborvitae on their side of the fence. Over the years I have come to love these beautiful shapely healthy arborvitae I have. they are a lush green wall of life and always look good. In the shade at their feet I have a selection of variegated Hosta and then Hellebore creating a nice contrast.
I keep my arborvitae looking good by pruning them lightly each year for shape and topping their size and cleaning out the dead foliage that collects in their centers so they don't spread apart.
My neighbors have not taken care of theirs and theirs have grown to different sizes, some too tall so snow has caused several to bend over, or split into two tops--they are scraggly shaped and ugly. 15 minutes of attention per plant year can keep them pretty.
the Emerald Greens are a great cultivar too- just the right size and shape. Take little work to keep nice looking.

RE: Screening Shrub advice and questions

You know...I was nearly 80% sure that the Emerald Green is what I was going with, but now your post has made it final. Thank you!

RE: Screening Shrub advice and questions

How much patience do you have? What is the soil like?

Might be too slow growing for you, but my thoughts are American Holly or Eastern Red Ceder.

White pine isn't very dense, but does grow fast.

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