Got some hippies next door in the hot tub smoking left handers? Once you are toweled off and back at your house, consider some of these excellent plants for keeping the dirty business out of sight. Here are 9 great plants for creating a privacy screen in the Asheville area, in no particular order.
- Green giant arborvitae. The number one selling tree on the market right now for privacy. It’s fast growing, more narrow that the Leyland cypress, and doesn’t have the disease issues that one does. Downsides? They get HUGE, 50-60’ tall and around 15’ wide, and they are everywhere. Green giants like as much sun as possible and a good dose of slow release fertilizer in the spring to really kick that growth into high gear. Deer also enjoy most arborvitae, though these get big enough where sharing isn’t a problem.
- Emerald green arborvitae. Perhaps the second best seller in Asheville for screening. This one stays much more in bounds, topping off at around 15’, but grows far more slowly. Emerald greens are dense and don’t like to be touching each other or they can develop brown areas where they don’t get enough sun. You also want to watch that they (or any arborvitae) don’t develop multiple trunks at the base, which can cause splitting over time. Full sun.
- Nelly R. Stevens Holly. Nellies are a great choice for screens. They are fast growing to around 20’ tall and 10-15’ wide and don’t mind some shade. No pollinator needed for berry set on this one either. Full sun to part shade.
- Sky Pencil Holly. One of our favorites, sky pencils have a little more formal look and fit in tight spaces. Grows to 8’ tall and 3’ wide. Good for city areas. Full sun to part shade.
- Blue Ice Arizona Cypress. This is another evergreen that does very well in the humidity and clay in the Asheville area. It’s a big boy, 40-50’ tall and 20’ wide, with beautiful blue foliage. Fast growing, especially in full sun with lots of nutrients. Deer don’t bother these as much as the arborvitae.
- Skip Laurel. Skip laurels are very popular in the Asheville area and make an excellent, adaptable foundation plant or screening hedge (10-15’) in full sun or part shade. As an added bonus they have fragrant white flowers in spring, unique on this list. They are deer resistant too! For downsides- they are expensive, expect to pay close to $100 for landscape size plants. They also have some problems with disease, one of which is called shot hole, which can be a problem when there is a lot of overhead watering or rain. When planting laurels, make sure to break up the soil well, give them a good mulch, and avoid planting them under overhangs or a drip line.
- Hicks Yew. Yews are an excellent option for shady areas, especially if you aren’t looking for a tall tree. They are very low maintenance and can be shaped as needed. Slow growing to around 10’, and poisonous.
- Techny arborvitae. This one almost didn’t make the list because it’s hard to find. Techny is a growers favorite, slower growing and more drought tolerant than the species. 15-30’ tall in full sun to part shade. Here is an excellent article all about Techny’s.
- Yoshino cryptomeria. A good substitute for green giants if you like a looser, more Japanese style look. Fast growing, full sun. Another one of our favorites at the nursery.
For the most versatile privacy screening plants in the Asheville area, look first to arborvitae or evergreen hollies. Both of those are large families of plants, with many different shapes and styles to choose from.
If deer are an issue, consider hollies or cypress. For shady areas, Yews or Laurels are probably the way to go, though some of the others can also work if it’s not too shady.
Choose your location wisely, especially when planting the larger growing varieties. Keep in mind that with slower growing varieties, the tradeoff is usually a sturdier, longer lived plant.
Decide first on how tall you need your screen to be, then how much sun the area gets. With limited space it often makes the most sense to go with plants that don’t get too wide at the base. If you do decide to go with something larger, most evergreens don’t mind a little pruning and shaping as necessary.