Creating an evergreen screen

KitNoviceJuly 10, 2014

I came across the conifer forum while searching cryptomeria and I was hoping I could tap into some of the expertise here. I'm looking to create an evergreen screen along the back and side of my yard. The back is 160' and the side is 120'. I'm also going to plant a few deciduous trees and shrubs. I'm looking for a natural looking border that blends into the woods behind my house. I do have a neighbor in the back that I would also like to have more privacy from. I live in a coastal area that definitely gets all 4 seasons - snow in winter and hot days in summer. Are there any trees you would recommend? 40+ feet is fine, as long as it still has growth toward the bottom to keep my privacy. Any thoughts?

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I'm not a fan of cryptomeria. My guess is they will become the new leland cypress.

I suggest Nellie Stevens holly.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 11:09AM
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Are there drawbacks to the cryptomeria? Or you just don't like the look? Any companion plants that you would put with the Nellie Stevens holly? I love the look of it - didn't realize that holly can get that big!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 11:19AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

at the distance you are working with ... what you are .... technically speaking.. doing.. is soil conservation .. go figure on that ... and i tell you that for googling purposes ....

in my MI .... there is a soil conservation district .... i wonder if there is such in your state???

in my MI .... they offer small plants at great prices to such a project .. including zone appropriate ... plants.. including natives.. conifer.. trees and shrubs ... see link.. AS AN EXAMPLE .. i am pretty sure they dont sell out of state... but hit the link for the online catalog... to begin to understand about diversity ....

IF you plant a monoculture... and the wrong bug or disease roll thru .. you will be starting over ... and it will be the day after you declare how good it all looks ... trust me on that ... lol ..

so the fact that you are asking about one single plant... the crypto ... tells me you need to diversify ...

i highly recommend you call your county extension office.. and ask them for any info they can give you about soil conservation... tree lines... etc ... it would be a great place to start ...

and if you dont have a soil conservation in your state.. no plant sale... google Musser Forests ... as they sell similar plants for similar uses ...

once you have done some reading about such.. then i think we can talk about options ... and alternatives ...

and i suppose.. the above is all based on budget ... if you are thinking big plants .. planted by professionals... then you ought to be getting these ideas from them ... and then discussing what we might think of their suggestions ...

good luck ...


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 12:51PM
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Just seems to me that every subdivision built in the past 10 years has 3 cryptomeria radicans planted on each side of the entrance. Maybe that's just my neck of the woods.

You should throw some cherry laurel in there if you are looking for diversity.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 12:58PM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

I'm a fan of Cryptomeria, all varieties. It's a little pricey for that length of privacy screen though.
What direction are you going to plant in reference to the woods. In the shade or sun? Picture?
Isn't Nellie Stevens holly as about as common as Leyland cypress in some areas?
Where do you live so we can give you more appropriate advice?
Location is important when it comes to trees. (I'm guessing Long Island or lower New England.)

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 1:09PM
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I am in a different part of the country, so I won't try to recommend specific plants, but I planted a screen in the fall of 2007 and have some general comments. If you want yours to blend into the woods, I'd plant a mix of plants, probably deciduous and evergreen in an irregular or staggered pattern rather than rows. Plant large shrubs in the front and taller items in the back so that it steps up to the woods. If you plant all the same kind in a straight line, it won't blend. However, I don't know how much space you want to use for your screen. I had a difficult time finding photos of mixed shrub borders or screens when I was planning, and my local nurseries only wanted to talk about straight line, one species hedges, not the look I wanted at all. So I'll add a few photos so you can see if this is the type of look you want. I added a fair number of clematis vines and perennials around the edges to add more color, but they don't really contribute to the screening. You can still use a mix of plants and not have it be as bright as mine is.

For my project, my goal was that it would stay under 15' (to not shade some solar panels), be ornamental 4 seasons, and be low maintenance. I planted enough evergreens to be a good screen in the winter (there's a messy wood processing area behind it along with the panels), but enough deciduous plants to have some flowers and fall color. I used broad-leafed evergreens like rhododoendrons as well as conifers.

Here is is at 3 years old in December, just starting to supply screening:
From December 2010

From December 2010

From December 2010

and here are a couple of photos from last year: From 2013

From 2013

Now even in winter after 6 years it does a fairly good job of screening.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 2:42PM
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Lily777 .

NHBABS - Gorgeous!!! Wow! Nice color and texture contrasts. Love it. Come help me with my screen/slope!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 2:58PM
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Thanks, Lily. I decided for my space that I wanted 3 types/colors of conifers, at least a couple of broadleaved evergreens (multiples of all these) and then I went around to my local nurseries to see what they had and decided on specifics from there. In choosing my deciduous shrubs and small trees I looked at providing wildlife food such as berries, scent, having a long bloom season including early bloomers, and fall color. I put in the evergreens and a few deciduous trees the first year and have added at least a few plants each year, filling in holes and replacing plants that haven't done well.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 3:53PM
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I'm looking for a natural looking border that blends into the woods behind my house.
Pics please?

Where is this house?
And what's growing in the woods.
And how tall is the neighbor's house? If you can't see their windows, they can't see you.

To block lower windows, place the blocker as close to them as possible. To prevent then from a birds-eye view from upper windows, put the blocker closer to your house.

For a natural look:

1 - Selectively place some dense evergreen shrubs and moderately fast-growing conifers that will maintain their skirts to block their view of your windows or other areas where you want year-round privacy.

Walk around and place poles to test locations.

Pick species that already grow in the woods, or that resemble them. Don't bring in a "foreigner".

2 - Plant some native deciduous trees where you need summer view control and don't care about privacy in cooler weather.

3 - Fill in the rest with a few of the species you used in the critical spots, with other plants chosen to look good ... perennials, good winter color, etc.

Put a few of them back in the woods so it looks like they are growing along the edge of the clearing.

4 - Consider using privacy panels and trellises or arbors in places.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 4:29PM
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Mike, you nailed it. I'm on Long Island. Nhbabs great pictures! - that's more like what I was envisioning but a little tighter if that makes sense? Ken, I definitely DON'T want a single anything, let alone cryptomeria, especially not in rows. I'm planting myself and it doesn't have to all be at once. My parents have a 150' line of leyland cypress and white pine mixed together that has about 12 total trees, most around 30' high and then shrubs and planting beds in front. I'm thinking something like that. I'm going to call my local extension - thanks for the great idea. All the local nurseries I'm going to are pushing cryptomeria, which is fine, but I don't know anything about. So my research brought me here.

I basically want something that has full evergreen branches that can be planted tightly enough to form a privacy screen without having a formal hedge look, with staggered trees that entirely mask my view of my neighbors. The area gets full sun until about 3pm. I'm also going to plant some deciduous trees here and there to soften the evergreens and thicken the privacy in the spring/summer. I'll work on getting a picture up.

I also don't care if it's something "everyone" has - I'm fine being part of the herd :)

And let me just say, this forum is amazing :)

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 12:11PM
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nhbabs - not to hijack OP, but your pics are gorgeous, I have saved them for future ideas!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 12:12PM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

Instead of a 'flat; wall why not incorporate your privacy needs into a 3D composition? You can have a wide meandering path leading towards your least privacy view so that it has depth. Flowering shrubs such as rhododendrons and azaleas add to the picture.
Here's what I did.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 1:08PM
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I'm with Mike on this one.......never met a cryptomeria I didn't like :-) So many cultivars with so many contrasting characteristics and all look lush and rich.

I also like the idea of a mixed screen - diversity is our friend :-)) That way, if one plant fails, you do not have a gaping hole that is difficult to fill to size. And a mixed screen is a far more natural look - even more so if you include some deciduous material along with the evergreen. Also very wildlife friendly.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 6:42PM
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Lazygardens - it's really the backyards that I'm looking to block - his and mine. I'm at a higher elevation than him. Your plan sounds like exactly what I'm looking for. My trees are all oak and poplar.

At the moment I'm thinking of a mix of white pine, cryptomeria, leyland cypress with some shrubs and perennials in front.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 8:48PM
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Mike - that looks absolutely amazing!!! I don't think I have the skill to pull that off myself though - although after seeing that I'm definitely willing to try :)

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 8:53PM
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and 20 or so years

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 8:57PM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

You're right. That took some time, but did you see what I did? It's not a wall, but I accomplished the same amount of privacy.
I gave it depth. I gave it a place for the eye to go.

What's around the corner? Where does it go? Looks like fun!

I think it's called 'engaging the viewer'.


    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 9:49PM
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