Privacy solution under acidic tree


Etobicoke (zone 6?) Seeking privacy solution that will also absorb some noise – located under evergreen that drops acidic needles. Well-draining soil. We have a dog, so toxicity is a consideration. Tnx


Thank-you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners with your question.

It is a little difficult to tell from your photo, and you have not specified where you would like your planting to go, but I’m assuming that you are looking for some tall shrubs or small trees to plant along your fence. For year-round privacy evergreens are a good option, but you will need to check carefully about toxicity. Yews (Taxus spp) are very adaptable but all parts of them are highly toxic.

Your first step should be a thorough assessment of your planting site. You mention the nearby tree and the possibility that the soil in the vicinity has been affected by the needles. A soil test will clarify for you whether you need to be concerned about a high level of acidity. Space, exposure (to sun and wind) and soil conditions will govern your available plant choices. This factsheet from PennState Extension provides some useful tips for planting a privacy hedge, and offers a range of ideas for plant selection including both evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs. Do be sure to check the hardiness zone for the plant since some of the plants listed are not suitable for your Etobicoke site.

As you are making your plans, you may wish to consult some of these previous posts about privacy hedges on our Ask a Master Gardener page.

Good luck with your planning!