Answer: Shade or semi-shade planting sites can be difficult on densely growing evergreen shrubs - the kinds you'll want to use for privacy screening. Arborvitae is a good choice. "Emerald" arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis 'Emerald') is a small tree or tall evergreen shrub well-suited for the "loose border" style of privacy screen discussed on Page 2. With its flat, long-lasting needles and dense growth-habit, just let this evergreen shrub grow into the tall privacy fence you need -- with little maintenance on your part. Emerald arborvitae has a narrow, upright form and attains a height of 15'-20', with a spread of 4'-6'.
Finally, there are common plants having potential as privacy screens that you may easily overlook, but that nosey neighbors will not be able to look over. Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadenesis) is best known as a forest tree that reaches enormous heights (60' or more). But if pruned faithfully, they can be maintained at the height you desire, as evergreen shrubs. A properly pruned row of hemlocks can form a dense and attractive hedge, with their feathery evergreen foliage.
Likewise, Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) grows to a height of 100' or more in the forest, but that doesn't mean that with pruning it can't be shaped into a specimen evergreen shrub.
Plants you can use as a noise barrier include yews, hemlock (Tsuga), andromeda (Pieris japonica), rhododendron and viburnum. All will tolerate some shade. If you use a variety of plants and stagger your plants from highest in the back to lowest in the front in a wide planting area, you'll block more noise than if you simply planted a single row of hedging plants.
Best wishes with your landscape!
Q&A Library Searching Tips