In an Outer Banks Garden: In search of privacy

Published 6:19 am Saturday, March 16, 2019

By Keith Lilly

Dare County Cooperative Extension and the Dare Master Gardener Volunteers get frequent questions from new homeowners about what to plant that will form a privacy hedge around their property; provide cover and food for wildlife; and survive in this environment.

It all depends on where you live – near the ocean, in the mid dune area, maritime forested area or near the marshes on the sounds. In each of these areas, there are native plants that grow and flourish. Here are a few suggestions of plants which can form evergreen hedges. As you look for the right plants, pay attention to their growing requirements.  If left unattended, some can grow tall but most are easily shaped into bushes to create privacy hedges.

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Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria) – 15’ to 25’ tall, evergreen, full sun to partial shade, wet to dry soils.  High wind and flood tolerant. This is the most versatile of the hedges.

American Holly (Ilex opaca) 15’ to 30’ tall, full sun to shade, well drained sandy soils.  Salt and drought tolerant. High wind resistance.

Sweet Bay (Magnolia virginiana) 20-25’ tall, loses it leaves late in fall, full sun to partial shade, moist to wet soils. Medium high wind tolerant.

Wax Myrtle – (Morella cerifera) grows up to 12’ tall, dense grey green evergreen leaves; full sun to partial shade, moist to wet soils.  Medium to low wind resistance.

Northern Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica) – up to 8’ tall, evergreen, full sun to partial shade, dry sandy soils.  Medium high wind resistant.

Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora); evergreen tree, full sun to shade, moist well drained soil; highly wind resistant and flood tolerant.

Many of these plants are growing in The Outer Banks Arboretum and Teaching Garden located on the grounds of the Thomas A. Baum Senior Center in Kill Devil Hills.  The Arboretum is open all year and there is no charge to take a stroll through and get ideas.  If you happen to visit on Wednesday mornings, you will find Master Gardeners working and happy to answer your questions.

Keith Lilly is a Master Gardener Volunteer SM  for Dare County. For gardening questions, contact Dare County Cooperative Extension at 473-4290 or email



In an Outer Banks Garden: Give them shelter

Local community garden donated over 200 lbs. of fresh produce in 2018