Full shade privacy hedge non-poisonous to sheep

(Question)

Hello, our ecological farm uses sheep to cut our lawn instead of petrol.  They are a great grounds maintenance crew and even fertilize!  I would like to plant a year-round privacy hedge across the southern front of our farm house but, it is full shade from overhead mature hackberries in the ditch adjacent to us.

Apparently, yew, juniper, rhododendron, eucalyptus, boxwood, hemlock are all poisonous.  Is there any other plant left out of that list that I might use?

Poison plants perhaps aren’t your area of expertise so pass on any and all suggestions and I will follow up with my vet regarding toxicity.

Thank you for your trouble on our behalf.

 

(Answer)

After researching shrubs that grow in shade and then trying to determine if they were poisonous to animals – unfortunately, the ‘non-poisonous’ criteria eliminated a lot of them.  It is amazing how many seemingly suitable shrub plants are poisonous.

Really the only one that looked good from a variety of standpoints was Amelanchier canadensis – the common name is Serviceberry.  It is a native shrub/small tree and edible.  In dense shade it won’t flower well, so that will mean fewer berries, and under these light conditions, it may be slower growing.  It may also need a little pruning to keep it shrub-like rather than tree-like.  This is a deciduous shrub/tree so loses its leaves in winter so won’t provide dense year round privacy for you.

Would you consider erecting a fence to keep the sheep from munching your living privacy hedge?

Would you be able to prune out the hackberries to let more light into the planting location which may broaden your choice of hedging material?

Thanks for your question, sorry we can’t be of more help.