previous
  • Planting the Right Way
    Planting the Right Way
  • Pick Plants for Fragrance
    Pick Plants for Fragrance
  • Rex Begonias
    Rex Begonias
  • Get your FREE Everyday Roses download now!
    Get your FREE Everyday Roses download now!
  • Indoor Seed Starting Materials List
    Indoor Seed Starting Materials List
  • DIY A-Frame Veggie Trellis
    DIY A-Frame Veggie Trellis
  • Go Green on the Patio
    Go Green on the Patio
  • 10 Seed-Starting Tips
    10 Seed-Starting Tips
  • 20 Gardenworthy Self-Sowers
    20 Gardenworthy Self-Sowers
  • Pantone Color of the Year 2014: Radiant Orchid
    Pantone Color of the Year 2014: Radiant Orchid
  • NEW Video Series: There's a Better Way
    NEW Video Series: There's a Better Way
  • Black Plants Done Right
    Black Plants Done Right
  • Garden Design Basics
    Garden Design Basics
  • Seed Starting in Speedling Trays
    Seed Starting in Speedling Trays
  • Plant Finder: Spring Plants
    Plant Finder: Spring Plants
  • Using Containers as Elements of a Design
    Using Containers as Elements of a Design
  • Building Better Borders
    Building Better Borders
  • Bold and Beautiful Zinnias
    Bold and Beautiful Zinnias
  • How to Grow Mustard
    How to Grow Mustard
  • 10 Combinations for Shade
    10 Combinations for Shade
  • 3 Ways to Design with Containers
    3 Ways to Design with Containers
  • Homegrown / Homemade
    Homegrown / Homemade
next

Shrubs for screening

Q: My house is very close to the road. What evergreen shrubs can I plant beneath the canopy of trees in my front yard to act as a screen and muffle traffic noise?

A. J. George, via email

A: Suzanne Edney, a landscape designer in Apex, North Carolina, replies: The most effective way to block out traffic noise on heavily travelled roads is with a screen of small trees or shrubs. Rhododendron species, Lonicera fragrantissima, Chamaecyparis obtusa, Kalmia species, Myrica species, Euonymous japonica, Illicium floridanum, and Tsuga canadensis all are suitable plants for screening in shady locations in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 through 7. Although these shrubs tolerate dense shade, they will thrive in shade dappled with filtered sunlight. Therefore, thin the canopy of your trees to allow more light to reach the ground and more air to circulate. Plant a mix of three to five different types of shrubs to avoid losing the entire planting to a pest or disease specific to one plant.

Root competition for water and nutrients from established trees poses a direct threat to the vitality and longevity of understory shrub plantings. To avoid this problem, plant the shrubs in a 12-inches-tall by 3-to-5-feet-wide berm made up of a soil mixture similar to your native soil. Shrubs planted in the berm will develop a more continuous root run, and will fill in faster to form a screen. Wind the berm like a ribbon through the established trees, keeping away from the tree trunks of the existing canopy, and covering no more than 25 percent of the existing tree roots to avoid smothering them.

An alternative plan is to erect a solid, sound-blocking fence, and cover it with a hardy ivy such as Hedera ‘Bulgaria’ or H. ‘Hebron’ for a green look. Or alternate the fencing with bermed shrub plantings by filling the first 20 feet with shrubs, the next 10 feet with fencing, and so on. Repeat the combination until the length of property is covered.

From Fine Gardening 62, pp. 14