This is the third in a series of articles on the Ten “Must-Have’s” in your Landscape. We all have those areas of our yard that we don’t want to draw attention to such as hiding trash cans, compost piles, work areas, or vegetable gardens. Or in order to love they neighbor we may have to screen thy neighbor a little! In any event, there are a variety of shrubs to meet every need.
1. Make sure the shrub is Evergreen
An effective screen has to be evergreen. You don’t want the screen to disappear in the winter time. As with any landscaping, chose appropriate height, color, texture, and growth rate for your situation.
2. Shrubs for large screens
Most people are familiar with Leyland Cypress. In fact, this is probably the #1 plant that customers request for screening. Leyland Cypress are one of the fastest growing screening trees. They are also one of the largest so allow plenty of room for these trees. Leylands may not be appropriate to divide you and your neighbor because of their size. They can reach 50 feet tall and 20 feet wide at maturity so eventually they are going to block a lot of sun and your neighbor may not appreciate that! Leylands can have an issue with Canker fungus and sometimes you will see entire limbs go brown so this is something to keep an eye out for as if you catch it early, you can stop it infecting the entire tree. An alternative to the Leyland Cypress is the Green Giant Arborvitae. It grows just as quickly and has a more pyramidal shape. Other options would be Japanese Cryptomeria or Magnolias such as the Little Gem variety.
3. Shrubs for Medium screens
Examples would be more size appropriate screens between neighbors, or when you want to block the view to the vegetable garden or working area. There are several shrubs that can be used for this purpose. Tea Olives are great. They also have tiny fragrant flowers that permeate the air in the spring and the fall. They can be maintained as a shrub or left to form small trees. Nellie Stevens Holly, or other upright forms of holly can be used and they have the added bonus of berries in the winter time. Cleyera is another popular choice as it grows very fast. It too can get large, so if you are not into pruning, allow plenty of room for it to grow. Other choices would include Ligustrum, many species of Arborvitae, large Boxwoods, Eleagnus, Junipers, Loropetalum, evergreen Viburnums, and for a more shaded yard look to the upright Yews, Aucuba, or Camellias. Also, some of the larger forms of Azalea could be used such as Formosa or George Taber, but bear in mind that Azaleas do drop some of their leaves over the winter.
4. Shrubs for Smaller screens
Usually we want to screen air conditioners or other utilities around the property. Try to avoid using shrubs that have spines or thorns around utility areas that you will have to access from time to time. Quite often Knock-Out roses are used to screen utility boxes, but these are not evergreen, and they are not very welcoming for service technicians because of their thorns. Some great choices are Gardenias, Compact Japanese Holly, some of the smaller Loropetalums such as Purple Diamond, Boxwoods, smaller varieties of Arborvitae and Camellia, larger varieties of Indian Hawthorn.
5. Other Screening Options
Sometimes a screen can act as a focal point and even though it may not be thick and lush, it gives the illusion of a screen. For instance, a trellis with an evergreen climbing vine can be an effective screen. Evergreen vines include Confederate Jasmine, Carolina Jessamine, or Evergreen Clematis. If you are using a trellis that provides good screening on its own, you could use many of the seasonal vines or deciduous vines. Some colorful annual vines include Bougainvillea and Mandevilla, and the deciduous Clematis are also very pretty.
Be sure to check out the rest of Tracy’s list of the top 10 ‘must-haves’ for your landscape!