Screening tree which complements native trees?

lizzie_nhSeptember 3, 2013

I'm not sure if this is the appropriate forum, but here goes....

In short, I am wondering what sort of trees I might buy which would provide good year-round screening, but not look out of place in front of a backdrop of native New England woodland.

I live in a fairly heavily-wooded area of NH. Without going into too much detail, my house is set back from the road a bit, in a clearing, but surrounded by native trees - many American Beech, some oak, some ash, not many maples, some hemlock, some white pines. The dominant tree in my area of concern is the beech.

Despite my neighbor and I having over 18 acres between us, our houses are perhaps 200 feet apart, if that. We have quite a bit of privacy when the leaves are on the trees, but after some recent storms which have thinned the wooded barrier, and some vegetation removal by the neighbor, we no longer have much privacy after the leaves fall. We're not interested in building a fence - the survey and installation would be very expensive, given the size of the property, and hilly/rocky topography.

We would like to plant some screen trees further onto our property - on the clear side of the wooded area. Picture a backdrop of mainly beech, and some new evergreen trees planted in strategic spots close to the beech, to "fill in" areas where our neighbor can see clear through to our house. What would look normal and is easily available? (We did transplant a relatively large native hemlock ourselves, with great and comical effort, but great success, but right now we're looking at trees available from most nurseries.) Arbor Vitae, maybe? We want it to look relatively natural, not like a "landscaped" tree.

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JillyWillyCT(6)

Hi Lizzie,

We have a similar situation and are in CT (not 19 acres, though!) I would recommend Mountain Laurels. Sources I see online say with protection, these are hardy to zone 4. So far, the deer have avoided laurels on our property. The older native laurels have grown tall (approx 12-15 FT), and we have cut some leggy ones down, and they have rebounded and are filling in, albeit slowly. If you don't have deer, even Rhododendron would be nice.

How tall is your neighbor's house and is there a slope between your houses?

If you need something faster growing than the ones I mentioned, maybe a mixture of white pine, Leyland Cypress , and Spruces? As long as you don't plant a row on a line, you can make it look natural, I am sure.

If you have deer, definitely don't get arborvitae, these are deer candy!! I am going to follow your post for ideas from others.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 8:58PM
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jcalhoun(8b Mobile County AL)

American hollies.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 11:37PM
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lizzie_nh

Thanks for all the suggestions! We do have deer. This year for the first time I tried Liquid Fence, which was 100% effective in warding them off... this is the first time they haven't chomped on all my hostas. But I'm not sure if it would work to protect larger trees/shrubs.

Rhododendron is one idea, though... we have two large plants on one side of our house, and they've never been touched by deer, but that may just be because they're right next to the house. They have grown quite rapidly and may be good for filling the bare spots where we don't need something very tall. We have acidic soil and they thrive.

The neighboring house is at roughly the same level as ours, but our biggest area of concern is actually an elevated area in which the neighboring property juts almost in front of our house... the neighbor's property at that point is at road level, while our house is set both back, and down considerably from the road. There is no perfect solution because to provide good screening in that area we'd need to plant 20+ foot trees down on our property. Sigh. There used to be woods up at the road and a new neighbor moved in and impulsively removed them up to and possibly over the property line, in order to use the space for purposes which violate the zoning ordinance. Now there is just a useless bare spot. (Better bare than filled with junk, though.) We have transplanted some white pines elsewhere, and they do grow quickly, but they get leggy/spindly and don't provide much screening until they have huge trunks.

Spruce may be ideal... tall and thick. I just haven't liked their uniform shape. But I will look into both those and the Cypress. Thanks!

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 11:49PM
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dekeoboe(7B NC)

I was also going to recommend hollies. Just research the type to make sure you get a type that is fairly deer resistant. I would not recommend Mountain Laurel as it is often on the list of bushes/tree that will sometimes get severely damaged by deer.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 8:38PM
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suenh(4)

hemlock

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 4:32PM
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wisconsitom

I'm surprised that Canadian hemlock is still viable in that area, thinking that the wooly adelgid had made its way up into New England. If I am wrong, I am delighted to be so. We've got lots of hemlocks in the part of the country where I live, and it would be truly sickening to lose them to this insect.

Of all spruce species commonly available, the only one I'd recommend would be Norway spruce. Again back in my area, other spruce species are doing very poorly in the landscape in recent years. But the Norways seem much better adapted to what comes their way.

Northern white cedar-Thuja occidentalis-was probably part of the scene there at one time. Though usually considered a swamp tree-and they are-they will also grow well in any normal well-drained spot. Those give a great deal of screeening with their thick foliage. The related "Green Giant" arbor vitaes appear to be servieceable and hardy trees as well. I've got few of those up in Zone 4, and sofar, they appear to have no problem coping with that climate. If you do elect to go with something from the genus Thuja, just remember, these trees naturally grow in groupings and groves-almost never as single, isolated specimens. To mimic this, plant fairly close together.

+oM

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 9:39AM
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Sequoiadendron4(6B)

Hello, I may be a little late to this post but I'll give it a go anyway. I think you'd be mistaken to put in any of the cookie cutter evergreens like arbs and Leyland Cyprus. In our area you see them in every yard and in your yard they would look very out of place IMO. I don't think there is anything that looks natural about them. I think you'd be better served with some Norway spruce, Frazier fir, and the like. I would want to do as much as possible to preserve the natural beauty of the forest. Let us know what you decide.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2013 at 5:02PM
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Sequoiadendron4(6B)

Hello, I may be a little late to this post but I'll give it a go anyway. I think you'd be mistaken to put in any of the cookie cutter evergreens like arbs and Leyland Cyprus. In our area you see them in every yard and in your yard they would look very out of place IMO. I don't think there is anything that looks natural about them. I think you'd be better served with some Norway spruce, Frazier fir, and the like. I would want to do as much as possible to preserve the natural beauty of the forest. Let us know what you decide.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2013 at 5:45PM
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alabamatreehugger(8)

What about Northern Bayberry? We use it's "southern cousin" (wax myrtle) often down here for screening.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2013 at 9:01AM
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jimbobfeeny(5a IN)

If you could find it in a reasonable size, Red spruce (Picea rubens) is possibly one of the prettiest New England conifers. It has a very beautiful natural form, and in the open remains a fairly dense tree. I think it is a rival to Norway spruce in its appearance - Old trees have broad, horizontal sweeping branches with upturned ends that give the tree a swag-like appearance. They don't have the pendant branchlets that Norway spruce does (Which I think look kind of gloomy), instead looking fresh and vibrant even in winter. I would definitely recommend Red Spruce for New Hampshire.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2013 at 3:18PM
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