Screening to mix with maples
Our neighbors with eight kids took down their fence and put in a pool 7 feet from the property line but don’t have any intention to plant screening plants. We are trying to decide what to put at the property line. Landscaper suggested an extension of our 2-3 foot tall berm, taking out two maples and planting 5 Norway spruce 10-11 feet tall. Sounds nice except the $10,000 price. Any ideas of screening plants that would mix well with the maples? We have Colorado spruce and white pine to the sides of the space. Thanks!
Kent County Michigan
I would suggest that you consider a mixed border of native shrubs and understory trees. Obviously, depending on the size of plants that you buy, it may take a year or two for them to provide you with the privacy you want. With a mixed group, you could also attract birds awhich would add to the enjoyment of the planting. I’m attaching bulletins from MSU Extension which set out native trees and shrubs that may work.
Most of these plants are deciduous which would provide you with privacy in the warmer months. There are several evergreens that are native to Michigan including: juniper and white cedar (arborvitae) that you could consider. Other native evergreens such as Balsam, Hemlock, White spruce and White pine would be too big for your purpose. A non-native evergreen that you could consider would be a Hicksii Yew. Most evergreens demand full sun except for yews and hemlocks which tolerate some shade. Whereas, many of the deciduous understory trees and shrubs tolerate sun and shade.
Before you begin choosing your plants, I suggest that you obtain a soil test. Go to https://homesoiltest.msu.edu/get-started . This will help you choose the right plant for the location. You may also want to test the percolation rate of the soil. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/determining_soil_infiltration_rate will explain how to do this.
I hope this helps you choose plants that work in your garden. Thank you for contacting Ask an Expert.