Plants for screens

Arbutus unedo – Strawberry Tree 

Arbutus unedo, commonly called Strawberry Tree, Apple of Cain, or Cane Apple, is an evergreen shrub or small tree in the family Ericaceae, native to the Mediterranean region and western Europe north to western France and Ireland.

Most often seen as a multi-stemmed, rounded, evergreen shrub or small tree reaching eight to fifteen feet in height with an equal spread, Strawberry Tree is capable of reaching twenty to twenty five feet in height, and makes a very attractive specimen tree when pruned to a short, single trunk. The trees take on a picturesque, somewhat twisted appearance over time, and exhibit dark, red/brown, flaking  bark accompanied by the lush, dark green, leathery, red-stemmed leaves. In fall and winter, the small, white or pink blooms in two-inch-long panicles appear at the same time the previous-year’s fruit are ripening. These unusual fruits have a rough, pebbled outer surface which ripen from yellow to red and persist on the tree throughout the winter, and are great for birds.  Arbutus prefers well drained soil and is drought tolerant when established. Strawberry tree is best used as a single plant to block a specific area.

Prunus laurocerasus compacta – Compact English Laurel

Compact English laurel is a smaller form of the old standard English laurel. It can reach eventual heights of fifteen feet but it is easily to keep at six to eight feet. Its compact growth makes it an excellent visual screen as its dense habit makes it  a  natural hedge requiring no shearing and only occasional shaping. It is a great choice for screening off neighbors, utility areas, driveways and unattractive land use. Compact English laurel is often planted along fence lines to break up unattractively long spans. The leaves are bright glossy green. Laurel needs a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system but eventually becomes very drought tolerant. Feed laurel with a general purpose fertilizer before new growth begins in spring. For a tidy, neat appearance, shear laurel annually to shape. Compact English laurel can be used as a single specimen or planted as a hedge, with recommended spacing of five feet apart.

Thuja occidentalis smaragd – Emerald Green Arborvitae

The emerald green arborvitae is an evergreen tree with bright emerald green foliage. ‘Emerald Green’ arborvitae usually reaches just 12′-14′, with a spread of 3′-4′. Its foliage comes in flat sprays and, if you look closely, the needles appear covered in scales.

They make an excellent screen, and can grow at a rate of about two feet per year. When young, the emerald arborvitae has a bright green color to its foliage which darkens as the plant ages. Also known as white cedar, the emerald green arborvitae grows well in amended soil that has topsoil and compost in it.  Hardy in zones three through seven, the emerald green arborvitae prefers full sun to thrive. Due to the narrow growth habit, these plants make an excellent narrow hedge or wind break. Arborvitae need regular water to become established, and perform the best with occasional watering during periods of drought. For an effective hedge or screen, plant arborvitae three feet apart.