Planting evergreens in deciduous woods

michele_1November 15, 2006

Of the list gardengirl48 provided under "deep shade," what are the best (gets very large, very fast) shrubs to plant

in deciduous woods (for screening from neighbors and winter cover for birds).

Need to start planting this weekend. I would very much appreciate your advise. I'm just not sure what to plant.



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geoforce(z7a SE PA)

If by 'deep shade' you really mean deep shade, then I doubt any broad-leaf evergreen will do very well there. I have a couple of laurels and rhododendrons in what I would call full shade under forrest canopy, and they do horribly compared to those on the verge of the woods. The only evergreen which does even half decently under full deciduous cover is holly (Ilex opaca) and it also prefers a bit more light. Of coniferous evergreens, hemlock will grow there, but so slowly that both you and the neighbors will be long gone before they become an effective screen. I have a dozen or so 30 years old, and they are still a bit thin for a screen.


    Bookmark   November 17, 2006 at 7:55AM
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Sorry to dispute that, but my list included a good many broadleaf evergreens that will thrive in deep shade. Our native woodlands in the PNW tend to be coniferous forests and many residences still have a lot of tall conifers or abut greenbelts that provide year round shade - finding plants that work well under these conditions is essential to my business. In a deciduous woodland, the list can broaden considerably, as this is seldom considered "deep" shade and is more often filtered shade in summer and can be very exposed in winter. Both aucuba and English laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) are rather rapid growing shrubs, but "very" fast is pretty subjective and open to interpretation. And they have the potential for getting very large, as well.

Cryptomerias should do well in your location, are quite shade tolerant as conifers go and you get get them in pretty good sized specimens already, if you're willing to pay for 'em :-) Your primary limitation will be dealing with the established roots of the existing trees - hard to dig planting holes for larger plants and you will have to account for competition for nutrients and moisture.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2006 at 10:08AM
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Thanks gardengal48. I'll definitely give the aucuba and English laurel a try, as well as the cryptomerias.

We need evergreen screening from the neighbors in winter and the wild birds need the evergreens for winter cover!

As far as expense goes, wood fences are much more expensive and a lot uglier.

Thanks much!

    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 10:59AM
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I have had similar experiences to George. Hemlocks, some of the evergreen viburnums, and hollies, and mountain laurels, and rhododendrens will live but are so slow to grow that they will not do the trick in my life time. But then they do not get special water treatment here after the first year since I am on a well. The ones I have planted in more open shade have done much better. I have never tried aucuba or English laurel though I have seen them in this area. I am not familiar with cryptomerias. Maybe they don't like the colder weather(?). I am zone 6, bordering on 7. I will have to try the English Laurel, and check into cryptomerias.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2006 at 7:15PM
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Well, forget that idea! The deer love both English Laurel and cryptomerias.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2006 at 5:07PM
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yardmom, you must have some pretty tough deer in your neck of the woods! The leaves and berries of English laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) contain amygdalin, a prussic acid compound (AKA cyanide) and are typically included on deer-resistant species lists as a result. As a matter of fact, I'm not sure what lists you are referring to, as most that I called up listed Cryptomerias as resistant or seldom damaged as well. I know deer can and will feed on pretty much anything if the situation warrants, but I wouldn't think either of these would be tops on their menu.

Here is a link that might be useful: just one deer-resistant plant list

    Bookmark   November 27, 2006 at 9:54AM
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geoforce(z7a SE PA)

Thanks for the link Gardengal. It is about the best I have ever seen, and I tend to agree basically with all the species I grow. The author is in Bucks County, about 70 miles from my location.

Our deer are pretty ferocious around here. In hard winters, they will totally denude holly trees, and rhodos don't stand a chance. As for toxins, one of their favorites in my garden is a yew hedge, which they prune very effectively every year.


    Bookmark   November 28, 2006 at 7:14PM
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This thread caught my attention as I've been trying to figure out what evergreens I can plant on a slope and underneath deciduous trees.

The lot bordering us has been heavily wooded for the past 7 years. The owner is in the process of clearing some of it to build a house. They are setting it a good way back on the property for optimal privacy, however, the lot sits a bit above us. Where my lot borders theirs, it slopes up on a fairly steep grade maybe 30 feet. At the top (level with their lot) we own about another 12 feet. Half of it is a line of large Oaks, a few Maples and some smaller undergrowth. The remaining is a trail my husband uses for his orange monster (non commerical tractor w/ bucket & backhoe).

Problem 1: The slope is grassed with some kind of wild variety that my husband either mows or weed wacks a few times during the season. Yuck. I want to do something with this.

Problem 2: I love being surrounded by woods. He wants to "neaten" up this thin line of trees by removing the underbrush and twigs to leave the bigger trees. This wouldn't have been a big deal if we didn't have someone building above us. Also, I feel it takes away from the "woods" and shows this trail of his.

Any suggestions on how I can integrate the slope and the thin border of woods I do have on my property into a more natural wooded area that also serves to block out the new neighbors and doesn't impact my husbands trail? They key is making it look natural and providing all year long coverage. I am zone 6 and do have to worry about deer. I have dog that helps ward them off.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2006 at 12:38PM
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Sounds a lot like my situation. Our house in on a hill, fairly steep, and neighbors just built on the lot next to us which used to be all trees. "Alas."

I have a thin line of deciduous woods very tall trees on the west and north sides of the property. I am currently planting evergreens in the woods - aucuba, eleagnus (sp?)in the shadiest sections. I've moved those eleagnus plants all over the yard (in mostly full sun areas and they did miserably). I was thrilled to see how well they are doing, how fast they are growing, in the dappled shade of my deciduous woods. I thought they would die actually, since I haven't tended them or watered them much at all, and I thought they liked more sun than they are getting there. Also some leather-leaf mahonia and Oregon grape holly. I've got black pines growing right at the woods' edge (I was crossing my fingers on that one, wasn't sure if they would get enough sun). Yes, they are doing fine, growing well, and are really beautiful. I planted wax myrtel in a hedge behind them (will take a good bit of shade)and put box wood between the black pines. I am also going to build a trellis (screen)in the areas I want more immediate screening. Lots of vines do well in shade (be careful not to use something invasive).

Well, that's what I've been working on this fall in the garden.
Hope that helps. Michele

    Bookmark   December 3, 2006 at 9:33AM
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