Ask Dr Phipps: Plant Recommendations
Q. I have two questions. 1. What shrubs or bushes do you recommend for a privacy screen? 2. I’d like to populate the back of the yard, under the trees, with some bushes and flowers. I have a good sense of choices for a shady yard from the Phipps yearly sustainable plant lists. But it’s been pretty bare for a couple of years, so is there a wildflower mix or ground cover you recommend to get it covered for the time being?
A: You had two questions, answers to both are included below.
1. Shrubs for Privacy - In general evergreen shrubs are the best for privacy because they retain their leaves/needles all year long. Try Canadian hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), or small cultivars of eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana).
2. Shade Tolerant Shrubs and Ground covers - We have updated our Top 10 Sustainable Plants so that they are searchable. You can select “shrubs or ground cover” under Plant Type and “part shade or full shade” under Sunlight and it will generate a nice list of plants for you. Try it here.
In the meantime, here are some excellent shade tolerant plants:
Perennials: bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis), lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis), hostas, brunnera, heuchera and columbine (Aquilegia spp).
Ground covers: wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana), sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum), geraniums, lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis), and bugleweed (Ajuga spp).