Greetings Friends!

We have heard from many clients about their not-so-neighborly feuds, so we're discussing green screens this month. Even if you get along well with your neighbors, sometimes it's nice to have a buffer. Is privacy a concern for you? Perhaps you need to corral pets or children, or repel wildlife? Do you live near a noisy street and would like a sound barrier? Green screens are attractive and versatile.

We have a new video for you on the topic. Carrie Hennessy takes you to our farm fields in Jackson to teach you about living privacy fences, and which plants are best and most popular. The plant of the month is Cornus mas, Corneliancherry Dogwood, whose blooms are a sure sign that spring has arrived.

Speaking of spring! Our installation and delivery calendars are beginning to fill up. Please give us a call soon to discuss your landscape projects. Although we cannot deliver mulch until after local municipalities have lifted the spring weight restrictions, we can better get your delivery scheduled the sooner you call.   
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Love Thy Neighbor with Green ScreensFA
by Carrie Hennessy, Landscape Designer
We've all heard the phrase "good fences make good neighbors". Robert Frost uses the quote in his poem "Mending Wall", about how, at the beginning of spring, thawing ground caused boulders to shift in a shared wall. Frost enlists his neighbor to help with the repairs:

"I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go."

The poem continues, describing the difficulty of repairing a boulder wall. And then:

"There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors.'"

Frost would have preferred to stop the arduous rebuilding where the property line is all pine trees and apple trees. Since there is no livestock to keep out, and his apples pose no threat, Frost muses why have a wall there at all? Are there elves to keep out? Alas, his neighbor doggedly repeats at the end of the poem, "Good fences make good neighbours."

Nowadays, in urban settings, we don't have livestock concerns, but a fence may be required for corralling pets and children. Over the years, I have heard countless complaints from clients of not-so-neighborly feuds. Erecting a solid fence is one way to separate you from their judging eyes, but the majority of cities and subdivisions have rules about maximum fence heights (anywhere from 4 to 6 feet tall). Some even ban fences all together. This is where a "Green Screen" is a home owner's best friend, because I have yet to encounter a municipality with limits as to how tall a tree can get (just keep mature heights in mind when planting under utility wires, which usually are directly above a property line).

A Green Screen is any plant that creates a barrier, whether to promote physical or visual distance. Planting trees and shrubs to separate you and the neighbors also isn't as aggressive of a response as a fence. A fence could be viewed as a confrontational statement, whereas a line of attractive trees can be explained as an attempt to attract wildlife and add more color to your yard. When installing a Green Screen, beside overhead obstacles, avoid planting directly on top of the property line and keep mature spread in mind. Legally, any part of the plant that hangs onto the neighbor's property is theirs to do as they wish. It's also a good idea to know exactly where your property line runs. If not already marked by stakes, have a professional survey done. I've seen people contest the location of trees and then extra expense was needed to move the whole Green Screen.

Evergreen Options
In the Midwest, plants that don't lose their leaves make the best barriers. However, if you don't have a lot of room, the typical Spruce or Pine will eventually get too large. Here are some alternatives to help you create the screen of your dreams:

Technito® Arborvitae
Thuja occidentalis 'Bail John' PP 15,850

Cypress Spruce
Picea abies 'Cupressina'

Degroot's Spire Arborvitae
Thuja occidentalis 'Degroot's Spire'
Star Power™ Juniper
Juniperus x 'J.N. Select Blue'
Trautman Chinese Juniper
Juniperus chinensis 'Trautman'

Multi-Stem Options
Multi-stem or shrub-form deciduous trees can also be mixed with evergreens (or used on their own) for a Green Screen. Using trees that are low and multi-branched provides more visual surface area, so are more effective than a traditional single stem tree to block the neighbors. My favorite multi-stem trees:

Sentinel Crabapple
Malus 'Sentinel'

Firebird Crabapple
Malus sargentii 'Select A' PP 12,621
Merrill Magnolia
Magnolia x loebneri 'Merrill'

Adirondak Crabapple
Malus 'Adirondak'
Standing Ovation™ Serviceberry
Amelanchier alnifolia 'Obelisk'

Corneliancherry Dogwood
Cornus mas

A Green Screen doesn't have to reach great heights, either. Arborvitaes can easily be sheared/hedged to control the height, especially Technito® Arborvitae. Maybe you want to hide the rabbit fence around the vegetable garden, yet don't want to block the sunlight. Boxwoods will eventually grow together to form a solid wall and their slow growth rate makes pruning them a cinch.

A boxwood contemplation maze.

New apple tree varieties provide dual functions. Enjoy fresh fruit, plus give a chain link fence more coverage by planting Narrow Urban® Columnar series apple trees or specialty "espalier" apple trees right up against it.

Or maybe you only need to block the neighbors when they are outside in summer. Ornamental grasses mixed with tall perennials offer color, texture, and are very low maintenance- just cut to the ground before winter or wait until early spring.

A green screen of ornamental grasses mixed with tall perennials.

Outdoor living and entertaining becomes more popular every year. You can install an entire kitchen outside, for crying out loud. Who wants the prying eyes of the neighborhood keeping tabs of what's for dinner? Even if you get along really well with the neighbors, sometimes it's nice to feel like you've created a little oasis for yourself. Besides, you can always leave room in the Green Screen for a path gate if you want to cross the aisle and invite them for a drink and a bratwurst.
Corneliancherry Dogwood
Cornus mas  
A sure sign that spring has arrived is when the Corneliancherry Dogwoods are in bloom. After months of white, brown, and gray, the clusters of bright yellow flowers cheerfully welcome a new season. The flowers will transform into bright red fruits, the size and shape of an olive. Very tart, like a cranberry, the fruit is excellent in jams and jellies and are relished by the birds. Whether as a single stem or shrub form, this tree is a lovely upright accent in the landscape.
Corneliancherry fruit
Carnelian gem
Cornelian is another way of spelling Carnelian. Carnelians are a translucent chalcedony gemstone (a mineral in the quartz family) with colors ranging from pale pink-orange to bright red to blood-brown. The colors will vary depending on how much iron oxide is present in the stone. A polished red Carnelian looks just like the fruit on a Cornus mas tree, hence the common name, Corneliancherry.

The name, Carnelian, comes from Latin roots meaning "flesh" and ancient alchemists believed the stone's color gave it special internal healing properties such as aiding digestion and alleviating the daily pains of pregnancy. A Carnelian worn around the neck promoted courage in battle and confidence in public speaking (for this reason sometimes it is called "The Singers Stone"). Muslims believe the prophet Mohammed wore a small silver ring with a Carnelian on his right little finger; the Romans engraved Carnelians to make seals for securing documents with wax; in the Middle Ages they were worn to symbolize the blood of martyrs.

Egyptian master architects wore Carnelians to show their important rank and some traditions believe they will prevent injury from falling masonry and tool accidents. If you keep a Carnelian in your home today, some think it will prevent theft, fire, flood, and storm damage. "Discount Double Check"? No thanks, State Farm, I've got a Carnelian for my insurance. 
from The Dirt
Duration 3:16 
Carrie discusses which plants are best, and most popular, for green screens, a living privacy fence. She shows you some of the best options including spruces, upright junipers, arborvitae, and more. She also explains that a living privacy fence doesn't have to be only evergreens, you can also use multi-stem and shrub-form trees. Learn more.
from Carrie's Quick Tips
Duration 1:15

Lots of ornamental crabapple varieties hold onto their fruits through the winter, but only a few will the birds actually eat.... Learn more.
from Carrie's Quick Tips
Duration 5:30

This is the best do-it-yourself program if you're a homeowner looking to design and plant your own project. We Plan-You Plant offers the helpful assistance of our experts... Learn more.
'How To' Guides
Selecting a guide below will take you to our website, where you will find more videos,  information, and downloadable content.
2016 Fruit GuideFRUIT
Johnson's Nursery Has 32 Varieties
Of Fruit Trees and Shrubs This Year

More space and larger aspirations? As Paul explains in the feature article, home orchards are a very real possibility. We can help you become a successful home fruit grower.

Small landscape or patio? We offer several options for you, including Columnar Urban and espalier apple trees, and 5 varieties of dwarf fruit shrubs by BrazelBerries.

**Please call for availability. Fruit plants sell out quickly.**


Learn More 

Do You Like To DIY?
We Plan-You Plant offers the guidance of our experts, who will use information gathered from you to create a professional landscape design--at no cost--when you purchase your plants at Johnson's Nursery.


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Recycle Your Plant Pots/Trays
If you throw certain landscape plastics (i.e #2, #5, #6) in the trash, they will sit in the landfill and will not get recycled. You can return them to us--for free--all year long. Act locally, think globally. Recycle.

Expanding Family Tree?
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Johnson's Nursery, Inc.
W180 N6275 Marcy Road. Menomonee Falls, WI 53051 (map)
p. 262.252.4988