Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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?

Share

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
4 ratings

Monday - August 17, 2009

From: New York, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Privacy screen for New York apartment balcony.
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Hello, I live in an apartment in New York City with an outdoor large balcony. I would like to buy evergreens to make the space more private. Do you have any suggestions on what type of plant would be best? I would need to buy plants that will survive the winter outdoors. Ideally, something with some height (maybe four feet?) and that can be planted in pots. Thanks!

ANSWER:

In general, we would discourage attempting to do what you have in mind.  While many evergreen plants grow well in containers, potted plants are particularly susceptible to freezing due to the increased exposure of the plants' roots.  The earth acts as a giant heat sink and moderates the temperature of the soil around the roots of plants in nature.  Even in areas of permafrost, roots of plants growing below the frost layer are protected.  Containerized plants growing outdoors have no such protection and will invariably sustain substantial - often fatal - freezing damage to roots.  Further exacerbating the problem is the exposed nature of apartment balconies.  As habitats, they're something akin to alpine bluffs where little grows at all and nothing grows in a lush manner.  We know of no native evergreens suitable for yearround outdoor container-growing in New York.

 

More Privacy Screening Questions

Need trees to screen view of parking garage in Houston, TX.
December 29, 2011 - We live in Houston, TX with a beautiful lot except a 4 story parking garage has been built behind us. How can we screen this and the lights out of site. It looks terrible from the second story espec...
view the full question and answer

Impenetrable privacy hedge in Wimberly, TX.
July 26, 2011 - I live near Wimberly, TX. I'd like to grow an impenetrable privacy hedge about 200' long and at least 10' tall and 10' deep (or more) using native plants. I'd like it to be evergreen, drought t...
view the full question and answer

Privacy and noise screen in Austin
January 17, 2009 - Mr. Smarty, I purchased a home and notice that my neighbors seem to hang outside their garage on the weekends and thus causing some noise. I need some major privacy from this neighbor and I was think...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for a privacy screen besides Murray Cypress.
October 18, 2011 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I live in NE TX, about an hour east of Dallas on I-20. I hear interstate traffic behind my house, and have a busy street on its left side, and a school adjoining in back. I thi...
view the full question and answer

Need small, fast growing trees for privacy screen in Buda, TX.
February 01, 2013 - Please recommend some small, but fast growing, flowering trees to plant along a western fence for privacy
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.