Plant Selection. - Knowledgebase Question

Norman, OK
Question by mikesallyh
March 2, 2006
I have a wood fence that gets hot west sun on the back side. I am tired of looking at the fence in the winter and want to grow some evergreen vine or shrubs to cover it up. The problem is that it is a full shade location on the east side of the fence due to five trees only about six feet away. What shubs can I plant in zone seven that will grow against this fence and not be six feet deep?

Answer from NGA
March 2, 2006


Based on your description, I think you might do better with a vine, both in terms of width and in terms of being able to reach the top of the fence in shade and then tolerate the full sun it will encounter there. Most shrubs would lean out to tryto find the sun and create a lopsided look. An exception might be nandina which tolerates deep shade and should grow to about the top of the fence but would probably be four feet wide at that height and is semi-evergreen, or possibly Aucuba, a broad leafed evergreen that tolerates deep shade If it is sunny there in the winter this would not be a good choice. The Aucuba would be slow growing, too.

Very few vines are evergreen. The only one I can think of that would be hardy in your area is English ivy. This can be problematic in that it will also spread along the ground. But if you have a narrow, shaded strip with competition from tree roots, this might be an excellent ground cover to use in that area instead of turf grass. There are many different cultivars available thse days with interesting foliage besides the plain dark green so it can be quite decorative.

You might also consider deciduous vines such as trumpet vine (Campsis radicans) and fall blooming sweet autumn clematis (Clematis paniculata). These are cut back each year in late winter to early spring but grow quickly each summer. You would create winter/early spring interest on the fence by setting a trellis against it for these vines to clamber up to reach the top. They would spread along the top and billow over the top when in bloom. They are deciduous so you would have a tracery of vine over the fence in winter until you cut it down for the season.

I hope this gives you some ideas.

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