Leyland cypress and Green Giant arborvitae are the standards when many people consider plants for screening. Both are attractive and very fast growing, but their mature size may overwhelm many properties. Often, a slower growing evergreen that grows to nearly twenty feet tall is more appropriate.
Upright hollies are wonderful plants for this situation. Their growth is moderate, and there are many excellent selections to chose from, offering a range of height, width, berries, and leaf color.
Nellie Stevens is deservedly the standard in this group. Dark green leaves, red Fall berries, and a trouble-free nature earn its stature. Used as a single speciman or in a grouping, Nellie Stevens is an outstanding plant.
Other excellent hollies include Dragon Lady and Centennial Girl, both particularly Winter hardy, Robin, Mary Nell, and “blue” hollies such as Blue Princess and Blue Maid. Most exhibit a heavy crop of red berries in the Fall and grow to a mature size of ten to twenty feet tall with a broad pyramidal to conical shape.
Few pests bother hollies, and most require no regular pruning or care, except a bit of water until they are established. They are best planted in full sun, but will tolerate a shady spot. Hollies are not picky about soil type as long as it’s not waterlogged.
If your garden design projects include screening plants, hollies are an exceptional choice.