Articles in Category: Good for Screening
Thuja plicata, commonly known as 'Western Red Cedar', or 'Arborvitae', is native to the Pacific Northwest and a popular tree for privacy screens. With naturally flowing branches, soft, fragrant, evergreen foliage, and a full-bodied pyramidal form it stays attractive all year. These trees can literally provide complete privacy with little maintenance in just a few years.
Western Red Cedars look great when left in their natural shape, but respond extremely well to shearing or pruning for a more uniform shape.
The ease of growing Arborvitae is partly because they tolerate almost any soil type, are cold hardy, and somewhat deer resistant. They are not picky plants, however, they do best when planted in ideal conditions. Just make sure they are planted in well-draining soil and give them adequate water. They can take full to part sun but do best when they get some afternoon shade from the summer sun.
There are several different cultivars of Western Red Cedar. Although they all share similar characteristics in foliage, form, location needs, one difference is the rate of growth and size at maturity.
Hick's Yew is a distinctive shrub with a lot of character. When compared to other evergreen trees or shrubs used for privacy screening, its long, graceful, upright branches covered with lush, petite, glossy, dark evergreen foliage make it an easy maintenance plant for narrow spaces.
Its resilience as a popular choice for a privacy screen is because of its dense, columnar growth that responds exceptionally well to heavy shearing or pruning by becoming denser. It is a slow grower at about 12” per year in ideal conditions, reaching a moderate height of about 10-20 feet tall and 3-6 feet wide.
For added interest, Hick’s Yew produces red berries in the fall that can be toxic if ingested. If you are in need of seedless variety, then the male ‘H.M. Eddie’ is a good alternate. It grows a little slower reaching 10-15 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide.
'Hick’s' and 'H.M. Eddie' yews are equally happy in full sun or full shade. So whether you live in hot and bright, or cool and shady climates and locations, you are bound to have success. Yews can tolerate a wide range of soils but do best in a well-draining area. To help encourage robust and healthy root growth, make sure it is adequately watered for at least the first few months after planting.
Adding a few inches of leaf or wood chip mulch will help insulate the roots from extreme winter and summer temperatures, and retain moisture throughout the year. Once established, they are drought tolerant but will grow best when it is watered after the soil has been allowed to dry out.
Clumping bamboo (Fargesia ‘Rufa’) is as visually attractive as it is remarkably effective for a privacy screen. With all of the classic characteristics of lush, evergreen bamboo that we love, it reaches a moderate height of 10 feet tall, making it a great option for easy maintenance.
'Rufa' is one of several species lumped under the common name ‘hardy bamboo’. They all have the same tight clumping growth habit and mounding form that doesn’t spread far from their original planting, and they grow well in both sun or shade. When compared to other 'hardy bamboo', 'Rufa' is more heat tolerant and able to handle full sun without leaf curl, and is the most cold-hardy.
The perfect location is somewhere with at least four hours of filtered sun or better. It will grow faster with more sun, which means a faster privacy screen. Keep in mind that sunnier sites will require more watering not just because of evaporation. They consume more water as they grow faster, and prefers well-draining soil that is rich in organic material.
Adequate watering during the transplant establishment period is the key to success. They should be watered well until the soil is saturated and moist, then allowed to dry out before the next watering. The amount of time between watering has many variables so it’s helpful to have a moisture meter or a way to check the moisture content at least 6-8 inches below ground level.
Remember when we mentioned ‘low maintenance’? After your bamboo is established, other than making sure its water needs are met, it is virtually self-maintaining. Just leave the dropped leaves on the ground for a winter mulch to insulate the roots and retain moisture over winter and summer. As an added bonus, it will help keep weeds down in spring, and eventually, break down releasing matter and nutrients back into the soil.
Coffeeberry is a great candidate for that hard-to-fill niche of an evergreen native shrub that also attracts birds and pollinators; is drought tolerant, deer resistant, and fire resistant; and even makes a good hedge or screen. In fact, it may well be the only plant that fills that niche!
Coffeeberry is a west coast native; occurring from southern Oregon all the way south into Baja California. It gets its common name from its fruit: berries that change from green to red to almost black over the course of the year. The flowers are inconspicuous (although pollinators notice them just fine) but the birds definitely notice the colorful berries.
Rhamnus makes a great hedge, usually growing at a medium rate to 6-8' tall and wide, with the potential to get larger in more wooded areas. The named variety 'Eve Case’ has broader and brighter, green foliage and will stay a bit more compact at 4-8' wide and tall. Its leaves are long and pointed and are a matte green with a paler underside.
Coffeeberry prefers full sun but can also be happy in part shade or a more wooded garden. In the Rogue Valley, it can tolerate the heat and most soils, although it prefers a sandy, well-draining soil. This is truly a drought-tolerant plant - once established, it can survive on no irrigation. To keep it more fire resistant, though, we recommend giving it a deep soak every two weeks during the summer months. We have found Coffeeberry to be deer resistant in most situations, especially once established. Deer may have a tendency to chew the new growth, but will leave plants alone when they get some size on them.
If you are new to growing native plants, this is a great plant to start with. Try it out to see how easy, attractive, and sustainable native plants can be in your garden!