The Q&A Archives: trees in shady areas

Question: Do you have any suggestions to screen a deck from the road by planting two trees by a little stream in an area that from May to October is mainly in the shade (sometimes dappled sunlight) because of many tall trees growing all around the area. Because the deck is raised the foliage does not have to be close to the ground. Close to this area we used to have hemlocks, which used to get infested by insects so we cut them down and replaced them with white pine that have done quite well, although they do get spittlebugs. We do not want to have spray the trees. The trees need to be a minimum of about 12 feet and deer proof. What choices do we have (in evergreen and decidous)? Thanks.

Answer: Very few trees will grow well in deep shade -- if you think about it, the center of a forest is usually fairly bare except for the trunks of the tall trees. In dappled light you could try a redbud (Cercis canadensis) or the native dogwood (Cornus florida) or possibly a blackhaw viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium) or maybe the semi-evergreen to evergreen Viburnum rhytidophyllum. These trees are understory plants in the forest but usually grow along the edges or in bright dappled areas where there is a bit of direct sun. They do not usually require any spraying. In my experience you will need to protect any young trees from deer by encircling them with a fence or possibly applying the commercially formulated deer repellents per the label instructions. Your local professional nursery staff and/or county extension may have additional suggestions based on a more detailed understanding of the planting site and your design goals.

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