The Q&A Archives: Planting under Pine Trees

Question: I have a border of pine tress around my property which provided privacy UNTIL a friend, who thought he was helping make it easier to mow, cut the bottom 3 or so branches from each tree. The branches are now approximately 6 feet or higher from the ground. Needless to say, I lost my privacy. I know it is difficult to grow under pine trees, but since I do have a more open area with which to deal, I am hoping to plant something that will return my privacy. I am wondering if the

Answer: It's true - not many plants will tolerate the shade, dry soil and acidity under pine trees, but I have had success with oakleaf hydrangea and redtwig dogwood. You might also try arborvitae 'Techny', which is the most shade tolerant of all Arborvitae cultivars. Or, try Taxus such as Hicks Yew, Capitata Yew, Cuspidata Yew, Taunton Yew. Although they are slow growing, they are tough as nails. Buy them as big as possible. Or try Canadian Hemlock but make sure you can keep the soil moist especially during the 1st month after planting. For Deciduous shrubs you could choose, Witchhazel, Redbud, Pagoda Dogwood, Winterberry, Viburnum Dentatum, Viburnum lantana, Viburnum lentago, Viburnum trilobum, Euonymous alatus 'Chicago Fire' or Tures, Kerria japonica, Northern Bayberry, Snowberry, Clethra, Gray Dogwood, Aronia Chokeberry and Amur maples. All of these will tolerate shade very well but will grow in a more open habit, have less flowers and less fall color. You can plant in layers to create the desired screening. Best wishes with your landscape!

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