En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - May 27, 2008

From: Floral Park, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Evergreen screening shrubs for New York
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I need evergreen screening shrubs that aren't too deep. The shrubs are to be planted along an existing wrought iron fence, which is a few feet behind a children's swing set.


We are rather limited in the native evergreen shrubs that will be a good choice near a children's play area, but here are a couple:

Ilex glabra (inkberry). You can read more about several of the cultivars. Although generally a rounded shrub, it can be pruned to shape it to your space. Here is more information from Ohio State University.

Mahonia aquifolium (hollyleaved barberry). You can find information for several of the cultivars from the University of Connecticut and more information from Virginia Tech. This plant does have leaves that are spiny so it might not be ideal for your area with small children.

Here are a few native evergreens to avoid because they have toxic properties:

Leucothoe fontanesiana (highland doghobble)

Kalmia spp.

Rhododendron spp.

You find information about poisonous plants in Poisonous Plants of North Carolina and Cornell University Poisonous Plants Informational Database.

As an alternative to an evergreen shrub you might consider ferns that are evergreen and reasonably tall. Here are a few suggestions:

Dryopteris cristata (crested woodfern)

Dryopteris marginalis (marginal woodfern)

Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)

Ilex glabra

Mahonia aquifolium

Dryopteris cristata

Dryopteris marginalis

Polystichum acrostichoides

More Privacy Screening Questions

New York State Shrubs to Screen Home from Traffic
March 11, 2010 - I am looking for a native New York bush/small tree which I can use along a road to screen my home from year-round car traffic. The area is not terribly wide and the soil is OK. I am willing to prune a...
view the full question and answer

Screen Tree for Lockhart, TX.
March 30, 2015 - What is a good screening tree for a ranch in the Lockhart area that won't get much water.
view the full question and answer

Are 'Ice Blue' Arizona Cypress and Desert Willow safe near a septic system?
September 18, 2015 - I want to plant a screen to hide driveway/cars on our property line that is close to the septic tank(not septic field) and the septic line running from the house. Would it be safe to plant a Ice Blue ...
view the full question and answer

Privacy hedge that can be trimmed
June 06, 2011 - Please help us find a screening plant or tree (preferably native and evergreen with flowering and/or berries) which is non-invasive, not a vine, at least six feet tall if not taller, which can be easi...
view the full question and answer

Privacy Screen Tree for Patio in NC
April 15, 2013 - What is a good tree to plant in front of a brick wall/fence to provide privacy and not compromise the structural integrity of the wall? The brick fence is my neighbors but I need privacy as they can s...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center