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(November 2011)

QuestionWe need some suggestions or ideas for an evergreen barrier that will get to 3-4 ft tall in pm sun on the south and west side of our yard. We want to run this about 100 ft long. Water is no problem. Types and spacing ideas would be greatly appreciated.

AnswerThere are a wide range of plants that stay in the 3-4 foot range including compacta hollies, loropetalum—both green leafed and purple leafed (check variety height), Indian hawthorne, boxwoods and even nandinas. All will take full sun. For a denser hedge, stagger the planting in a zigzag pattern instead of in a straight row.

(February 2010)

QuestionWe would like to screen our yard from residents of a motel next door to us. We need the fastest solution but will have to weigh the cost factor when making a decision. I’ve read that Blue Spruce grows well in Arkansas and has a good conical shape when planted as a screen, but it is slow growing and doesn’t transplant so well when more mature. Do you have suggestions for us?

AnswerColorado blue spruce is ok in the most northern tier of Arkansas, but even there can struggle with the heat and humidity of our summers. It is relatively slow growing and I would not think inexpensive. For fast growth, and a mature large plant, consider: Thuja plicata ‘Green Giant’ - arborvitae or Prunus caroliniana ‘Bright ‘N Tight – Cherry laurel. Another tall growing albeit slightly slower growing evergreen is the Japanese cedar Cryptomeria japonica ‘Yoshino’ or ‘Ben Franklin’ are two large cultivars. Then there are several hollies which make nice screens: Ilex cornuta ‘Burfordii’ – Burford holly, I. x attenuate ‘Fosteri’, ‘East Palatka’ or ‘Savannah’ and Ilex x ‘Nellie R. Stevens’. Depending on space, you could also grow the southern magnolia- Magnolia grandiflora. The standard variety gets massive, both in height and width but there are several slower growing smaller cultivars including ‘Bracken’s Brown Beauty’ and ‘Little Gem’.

(March 2005)

QuestionI need your help. We have cut down most of our red-tips because of the fungus. I have fought it for so long and now it has spread to all of them and we had so many. Now we want to replace them and we don't know what to put there. We would like something that grows well with no disease problems. I thought you might have some suggestions.

AnswerRedtop photenias have really been hit hard by the leaf spot fungus and are dying across the south. You are wise to stop fighting it, and replace. There are numerous options. You can use Nelly R. Stephens holly, Foster Holly, Elaeagnus, Green Giant Arborvitae, winter honeysuckle, and cherry laurel, just to name a few. Visit with your local nursery and look at the plants, and see which ones you like best.

(November 2005)

QuestionWhen the leaves fall from our many trees, a neighbor's storage building becomes visible. I would like to plant several tall evergreen bushes or trees so that the building would be screened from our view. I considered a berm, but it would have to be really tall for us not to see the building when in our home. Please suggest evergreen bushes or trees that would survive as under story plantings. Someone suggested a Mahoney, but I have been unable to locate these bushes.

AnswerI think you are referring to Mahonia. It would not grow tall enough to serve your purpose. What about Illicium - Florida anise, Cleyera, Wax Myrtle or Cherry Laurel? Depending on ultimate height, cherry laurel may be your best bet, since it does grow the tallest of the three, but all will do well as an under story plant.

(December 2005)

QuestionWe are building a new home and the backyard is surrounded by other homes. We want to plant some trees for privacy. We are considering Leyland cypress. A friend told me they read in your column that you recommended another tree because lelands get lots of disease. Here are some of our considerations: we want the tree to be- fast growing, easy to care for, an evergreen, and not very expensive because we need lots of them!

AnswerWhat we are talking about is a screening or hedge plant. They can be considered large shrubs or small trees. Leyland cypress has suffered from disease in Arkansas. Some other choices include cherry laurel, Green Giant Arborvitae, Nellie R. Stevens Holly and Lusterleaf Holly. These should be readily available in the state. As to prices, shop and compare. Size of plants can make a big difference. If you have the time, allow them to grow into their space.

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