Plants to establish privacy/noise reduction hedge in area already with trees/brush?
20 responses | 0 likes
Started by WxFollower - July 22, 2019, 10:43 a.m.

 I’m looking to establish a privacy and noise reduction hedge on one side of my backyard about 5-10 feet from the property line. There currently are a lot of small to medium sized trees with some underbrush including palmettos. So, it is not at all barren. So, whatever plants would be added would need to do well in shade. I’m looking to fill in the gaps and turn it into more of a hedge. I’d like it to be several feet thick and 10-15+ feet high, at least in portions of it.

 What plants would be the best choices for this situation to incorporate the trees (including their roots) and underbrush that is there now and that would fill in within 1-2 years in an already shady environment? I’m willing to spend a good bit of $, if necessary. As mentioned, increased privacy as well as a sound barrier are goals. I live in the SE US. The coldest it gets in the winter is typically 20ish though some winters have a couple of days in the teens (usually 15+).

 Thanks in advance.

By metmike - July 22, 2019, 12:24 p.m.
Like Reply


I'm afraid that you will need to drastically lower your expectations. 

 I deleted my opening paragraph since Tim and Grant have identified a tree that grows much faster than I thought and appears that it might be a good choice for Larry if there is enough sun for it, see their posts below.

Taller plants will need more space in between them and much more time to put on the height that you want to see eventually. 

With it being shady, you will have to limit your choices too. The fastest growing plants will obviously prefer a full sun.

Are you looking for an evergreen that stays green all year long? 

Do you have a picture of the area?

How much shade/sun does it get.

How long is the hedge you want?

Here are some ideas:

How to Grow a Tall Hedge in the Shade

Another thought is that you could alter the current landscaping/plants..........trim them back maybe or even get rid of the ones that you don't like that are blocking the sun,  so that abundant sunshine is able to reach your newly planted hedge plants. 

At least the amount of CO2 is still going higher, so your hedge plants will grow faster from that. Woody stemmed plants actually grow the fastest from increasing CO2, some of them growing 50% faster today than they did a century ago!

By TimNew - July 22, 2019, 1 p.m.
Like Reply

I've had tremendous luck with leylands for just about exactly what I think you are trying to do.  Very fast growing and not very expensive.

By metmike - July 22, 2019, 1:53 p.m.
Like Reply


This is a wonderful choice if Larry can provide this fast growing tree with enough sunshine. Maybe it will just grow slower without the ideal amount of sunshine.  Not sure. You can control the height/width  of these trees by pruning them every year if you don't want them to get really huge after numerous years growing but at this point, you are looking for the fastest grower possible. 


How much sun/shade are we talking about?

Leyland Cypress Trees


Leyland cypress does not tolerate shade well. It grows best in open, sunny conditions. 

By madmechanic - July 22, 2019, 1:53 p.m.
Like Reply

I know you originally asked for suggestions on a tree/bush/plant for your needs, but I would like to offer something else. You might consider some nice wood trellises and then some sort of climbing plant.

My father (woodworking as a hobby) made his own trellises for his yard that look similar to these:

They can be nice looking and with a climbing plant (perhaps a rose?) might fit your needs.

By TimNew - July 22, 2019, 3 p.m.
Like Reply

That's a great idea too MadMech,  but WX mentioned lots of shade, which as MM pointed out,  may rule out Leylands, and most climbing plants like sun as well.  Certainly roses.

By metmike - July 22, 2019, 7:17 p.m.
Like Reply

Thanks for additional good idea mm. In this case, 4 heads are better than 1 and maybe others have ideas that we haven't thought about. 

By wxgrant - July 22, 2019, 8:13 p.m.
Like Reply

Leyland  Cypress are great for this as others have said. I did this in a previous home and they grow fast. A planted the largest I could find at Home Depot and they were around 15 feet tall in three years. 

By metmike - July 22, 2019, 8:24 p.m.
Like Reply

Wow, that's incredible growth grant.  Maybe they will still grow fast enough in the shade to provide Larry with something close to what he wants.

I learned something today and deleted a couple of sentences in my first post that was made before reading your posts. 

By wxgrant - July 22, 2019, 9:45 p.m.
Like Reply

They were about 6 feet tall when I planted them. So about 3 feet per year. Today they are over 40'! I don't live there anymore but it is just down from my parents house. 

By metmike - July 22, 2019, 11:26 p.m.
Like Reply

5 heads are better than 1!!

WxFollower, Tim, madmechanic, metmike and wxgrant!

By WxFollower - July 23, 2019, 3:01 a.m.
Like Reply

Met Mike asked:

" Are you looking for an evergreen that stays green all year long? 

 Do you have a picture of the area?

How much shade/sun does it get.

How long is the hedge you want?"


1. yes

2. I don't have one handy but rest assured it is very shady

3. Some morning sun but late morning through the rest of the day is very shady. 

4. 25 feet long, 3 feet wide.


Thanks Mike, Tim, mad, and grant for your replies.

Any opinion about bamboo?

By metmike - July 23, 2019, 7:09 a.m.
Like Reply


I’m glad you mentioned bamboo. We have a lot of it and I will comment later. This might be an option, especially with you pretty far south.

By madmechanic - July 23, 2019, 1:39 p.m.
Like Reply

My understanding with Bamboo is that it can grow ridiculously fast, both in height and in plant density.

It can also be quite invasive and (at least here in California) there are often county/city ordinance regarding invasive plants and often Bamboo is actually illegal to grow on your property.

Only thing I don't know about bamboo is if it will get tall enough for your desires.

By metmike - July 23, 2019, 2:56 p.m.
Like Reply


There are different kinds of bamboo, some grows taller than others, some is more cold tolerant than others. If you make this choice, you will want the tallest and most cold tolerant but those attributes may not go together and you should know a few things. 

I will first describe the kind that we have, which I wish was a different kind and my extensive experience with it. 

18 years ago, my wife had a bamboo plant that she had me plant by our pool. We did not build this house and the pool is surrounded by woods/tall trees, except in the area where I planted the bamboo, which is still mostly shade. 

Within a couple years, there were dozens on bamboo plants, spreading out in every direction, then in 6 years, hundreds. They can even spread in the woods, with deep shade and battle thru the dense roots of trees. However, in the shade they are not nearly as proficient or tall and not very thick, especially since they have to fight the established tree roots in the soil, which is how they spread.

 They are a tropical plant that likes heat and sun.

When their aggressive underground root system gets to a place will full sun, it goes nuts. For us, those locations mean the lawn and landscaping. If I had let the bamboo grow in those spots it would have taken over everything. The roots will spread under sidewalks and even driveways and come up on the other side. 

On the lawn, its no big deal because just cutting the lawn controls it completely. The new shoots are cut down before they get anywhere and just die.........but the roots wait there for the next opportunity to send out new shoots later in the growing season.

In the landscaping, you need to cut the new ones down a couple times a year and will be ok. So you can control how far out it sends up shoots above the ground by cutting them back at least a couple of times a year. 

I was actually pleased with the tropical look we had in our backyard, surrounding the pool and decided, sort of as an experiment to transplant a few of them on the other side of the property, which is wooded but fairly close to the neighbor and needed a privacy barrier. 

They did great in the sunny locations and grow to 8 feet tall there and extraordinarily dense but maybe only 5-6 feet tall in the shady spots and not as thick.

Now the downside. In the Winter, here in southern IN, it gets cold enough for them to lose most of their leaves. So you have green leaves early Winter, that turn to brown leaves and eventually fall off in the early Spring, leaving just bare bamboo with its many branches.  

Thats with an average Winter, if temperatures don't get down close to zero.  During the Winter of 2013/14 it was extremely cold..............colder than anything our bamboo had been subjected to. Instead of coming out of dormancy the next late Spring, we just had bamboo plants killed to the ground. The only way to know is to wait well into the Spring to see what happens.

Since this was the first time it happened, it wasn't until Summer that I realized the old plants were not coming back as the roots sent up hundreds of new plants above the ground, many were in between the old plants. Keep in mind that this is bamboo. Old bamboo plants dont wither and decompose, they stay there dead and brown for years and years.......ugly!

 So the NEXT Spring, I had a week long project cutting out the dead bamboo from the live bamboo. It took so long because in the back, it had spread so far into the woods and at that time in the Spring before the new bamboo from the previous year had leaves, to know which stalks were dead and which ones were alive. 

 The new bamboo that has come up where the old was has never been as tall or thick, mostly because these are shady areas but where it spreads to new locations, especially in the sun it thrives.

Then, 4 years later we had another very cold Winter and all the bamboo was killed to the ground again. This time, I just took a chain saw and cut all of it down in a couple of hours well before any new shoots started to come up in the Spring.

Then, last Winter was another cold one and the bamboo lost all of its leaves early and I was convinced it was all dead. I got busy doing other things and procrastinated cutting it all back again in the Spring. When I finally got around to it, just as they were about to be chainsawed away, I tested the plants one last time, by breaking numerous branches to see if there was any green. They were not brittle and some seemed to have a bit of green in them. So I decided to wait, even though I was 90% sure they were dead.

If they were dead and new shoots were coming up, I would have to cut each old shoot down individually to try to not harm the new ones vs just mowing them all down right then and there.

If they were alive and I mowed them down, I would lose last years height and growth and have to start over. 

I checked every few days and after several weeks started to notice tiny new leaves coming out. This time, procrastinating was a good thing.

So the bamboo we have growing this year, is on its 2nd year.

By metmike - July 23, 2019, 3:25 p.m.
Like Reply

Now that you've read the long winded story about our bamboo that makes is sound like a bad should still consider it.

When my wife got the initial plant, I think it was a small, running type variety that has very limited height and is obviously not tolerant of temperatures that get down to 0 F.

This was a bad choice for anybody living this far north.

You are farther south and our bamboo would never be killed there but its much too small for what you want.

There is bamboo that gets massive, maybe like what you need and is cold tolerant. The one problem that you may face is the full shade keeping it from reaching its potential but it might be ok with just several hours of sun/day.

Go to these links to look at the different kinds and pick a couple that seem like they might work and tell us what they are and I can look it over too.

By WxFollower - July 23, 2019, 6:33 p.m.
Like Reply

Hey Mike,

Thanks so much for the time you put into giving me that very useful info! The one at the top of this list, bambusa multiplex, seems to be one of the most appealing of the bamboo choices for me because it apparently isn't as hard to control as most other bamboo and is grown in this area. Are you familiar with it? If not, please read the top of the list at the link below. What's your opinion?

By metmike - July 23, 2019, 8:15 p.m.
Like Reply

From your choice:

Bambusa multiplex                    — 35' max. ht., 1 ½" culm dia., clumping, cold hardiness 12 °F.

If the temperatures drop to the single                digits or low teens you will probably see some cold damage but it usually                recovers.

"This species including all of the cultivars listed                below grows well in middle and south Georgia and suffers some culm damage                in cold winters but always comes back from the rhizome"

What that means Larry(I think), is that in cold Winters, it may be killed to the ground and the following year, you will have a bunch of dead bamboo above ground that needs to be cut down.  Leaving the dead bamboo canes there, will interfere with the ability of the new shoots to do best. 

Bamboo canes are extremely hard and tough. After they die, they will stay in that spot for a years unless you cut them down. 

I wish I knew what type ours is and what its cold hardiness is listed as.

Most of the 20 Winters here it did well.

0 degrees seems to be the point that kills it to the ground.

Last Winter we got down to 1 degree on 1 night and it just barely recovered. Losing all its leaves and taking forever to green up but most of the plants were ok above ground. 

The 2 recent Winters with temperatures below zero, here in far sw IN, killed every cane down to the ground. 

I guess you could go with something that gets killed every 10 years if you didn't mind starting over again every 10 years but the new canes will not do nearly as well in the same spots, especially if they are shady. 

Atlanta could easily see a temperature in the single digits every 10 years. I would go with something tolerant of temperatures down to 0, which might only happen every 30 years, maybe less frequently than that with the beneficial warming(and in this realm, we are really appreciating it as beneficial warming in the Winter).

Interestingly, our butterfly bushes were killed to the ground in those coldest Winters and last Winter, the bamboo just barely survived but only 15% of our butterfly bushes were not killed to the ground, so the bamboo that we have is just a tad more cold tolerant by a few degrees than the butterfly bushes we have.

Our crape myrtle was hurt very bad from the 2013/14 Winter that wiped out the other stuff to the ground, then just slightly 2 Winters ago but did great last Winter, so its cold tolerance is a tad better than the bamboo, which is slightly better than the butterfly bushes.

Atlanta - Lowest Temperature for Each Year

By metmike - July 23, 2019, 8:52 p.m.
Like Reply

Just to elaborate on the damage pattern for our bamboo.

Unlike the butterfly bushes and crape myrtle, which had partial damage in some cases, with the bamboo, either it all survived and came back completely(after losing its leaves) or it all died to the ground, without a single above ground cane surviving.

By WxFollower - July 23, 2019, 9:28 p.m.
Like Reply

 Thanks, Mike!

By metmike - July 23, 2019, 9:58 p.m.
Like Reply

YW Larry!

I’m thinking that in mild winters it may have kept most of its green leaves.