What shrubs can I use to make a privacy screen?


I would like to install a privacy screen made out of shrubs to create a wall along the road. What would you recommend for something that is good in the climate, some salt exposure and doesn’t require a lot of grooming? Something evergreen or with year round coverage would be ideal. Is there anything native that will work for this? If not, anything friendly to the surroundings?


Liz Stanley, Horticulture Community Education Assistant

Most conifers for Zones 4 – 5b get very large over time. The few exceptions (with some management) are mugo pine (not native), maybe some dwarfing species and some of the junipers. An example might be Juniperus scopulorum ‘Witchita Blue (and other varieties) which are upright and resistant to deer browse. These require full sun and well drained soil (most don’t tolerate wet conditions), so you would have to plant it inward of the dip next to the road.

For a privacy hedge that supports wildlife like birds and pollinators, think about a mix of native trees and shrubs. This creates a hedge that’s less likely to suffer if there’s a pest or disease infestation to one species of plant. These organizations have native plant sales going on, with orders due very soon.

Waldo County Soil & Water Conservation District. All their plants are native but none are conifers.

The Knox-Lincoln County plant sale. They have a lot of native shrubs that like moist soil.

Maine Audubon’s Plant Finder this list can be filtered by sun, moisture, height and what wildlife it supports.

DEP’s Buffer Handbook Plant List is somewhat old, but plants are organized by height.
And Maine has many excellent nurseries that sell all kinds of plants including many natives. This list does not include some of the smaller and newer specialty nurseries like Crystal Lake Farm and Nursery in Washington. Some of these smaller nurseries have the time to provide suggestions based on your aesthetic.

Here are just a few plants that come to mind:

Ilex verticillata (Winterberry)  This would be a nice hedge in a moist area, using both male and female plants to produce berries. The stand might get thick enough to provide good privacy even in the winter.

Hamamelis virginiana (common witch hazel) – Handsome branch structure, late fall flowers, yellow fall color.

Lindera benzoin (northern spicebush) – Caterpillars of the spicebush swallowtail butterfly (Papilio troilus) use this species for food. The green caterpillars have large, black, fake “eye” markings that scare away predators. With sweetly aromatic foliage that turns yellow in the fall, this plant is a good choice for shady, moist or wet places in the garden.Physocarpus opulifolius (common ninebark) – deciduous, 3 to 10 ft. tall, blooms white, pink May and June, prefers well drained soil, sun or part shade. These come in a variety of cultivars of shape and color.

Salix humilis (prairie willow) – deciduous, 6 to 12 ft. tall, blooms yellow, green purple, brown March to May, moist soil, sun

Spiraea alba (white meadowsweet) – deciduous, 3 to 6 ft. tall, blooms white June to September

Our website has more information about Plants for the Maine Landscape including lists of plants for different site conditions.