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(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’.

(July 2010)

QuestionOur beautiful Chinese Photinia (30 ft. tall, crown 25 ft. in diam.) has died in spite of our efforts to save it with fungicide. It was not only a focal point, but the screen between our windows and our neighbors. We need to replace it with an evergreen shrub or tree that will eventually fill that space as gracefully. Any suggestions?


AnswerThere are several possibilities. Cryptomeria plants grow quite large at maturity but can be slow to get started. A common name is Japanese cedar. There are numerous cultivars and size varies based on which you choose. Another possibility is one of the hollies--lusterleaf holly (Ilex latifolia) is fast growing and I think fairly graceful in central and south Arkansas. Nellie R. Stevens holly is fairly fast growing but will not get near as tall as your photenia. As far as graceful, I would look at a deodara cedar. Some cultivars will grow way taller, but others can fit your size.

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