What type of tree or evergreen would be best to plant in lakes country of Minnesota to establish a privacy screen? I don't have alot of space and desire something that will establish fairly quick. I'm thinking of an arborvitae or the lombardy popular. What type of arborvitae adapt to ND/MN winters? Emerald Green, American? The lombardy has it's negatives but is fast growing.
Cass County North Dakota
You asked for an evergreen that would establish a privacy screen. An American arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) would likely be an excellent choice. It will tolerate moist soil and partial shade, which is commonly found in Lake Country Minnesota. It will create a year-round privacy screen. It would be hardy in your area. It would be moderate, but not fast in its growth rate.
Among the finest arborvitae cultivars are 'Emerald' and 'Techny'. Both cultivars grow 10-15 feet tall (sometimes more) and will stay bright green all winter. 'Emerald' is heat tolerant; 'Techny' grows a little slower but is very full and is very popular for use as a hedge. The only negative of an arborvitae is its needles could become brown and dry if exposed to open prairie winds. This is not likely the case in Lake Country.
Nobody who understands plants would recommend a 'Lombardy' poplar. They are short-lived and typically start falling apart after approx. 15 years. They are not an evergreen but are rather full and will give you approx. 70% cover in winter. Poplars grow fast, but should be considered temporary trees. As they fall apart in later years, they could serve as a hazard to nearby buildings.
I like the following publication:
A Guide to Selecting Landscape Plants for Wisconsin
The University of Minnesota has a series of publications on landscaping along lakeshores:
Contact me if you wish more information.