En Español

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

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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - March 11, 2010

From: Irvington , NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: New York State Shrubs to Screen Home from Traffic
Answered by: Janice Kvale


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 and fertilize.


If you are searching for a year-round screen, Mr. Smarty Plants assumes that you will want an evergreen shrub, but you may find a deciduous solution more to your liking. I have several proposals that you may entertain but you may also want to do a bit of searching through our Plant Database yourself as you know the specifics of moisture and light exposure for your site. Here is how you do that: Go to our Plant Database Combination Search. Enter your location (New York), either shrub or tree (I used only shrub but you can see what comes up under tree also), and perennial. Then indicate the amount of sunlight your site receives daily and the moisture content of the soil. Voila! A list of options appears on your computer screen.

After you have made your selection(s), find a supplier from our list in your area.

All of the suggestions below are native to New York State. Some indicate that they grow to a large size so your willingness to prune may be essential in keeping them the size you prefer. Many of the plants are those that adapt well as hedges. All of the native shrubs in this first list are evergreen.To review specific descriptions of these shrubs, click on the name.

Ilex opaca (American holly)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush)

Thuja occidentalis (arborvitae)

Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar)

Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)

Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel)

Ilex glabra (inkberry) 

All of the following suggestions are deciduous, but those spring blossoms may be worth a bit of winter car traffic.

Rhododendron periclymenoides (pink azalea)

Rhododendron prinophyllum (early azalea)

Rhododendron maximum(great laurel)

Crataegus opaca (riverflat hawthorn)

Crataegus uniflora (dwarf hawthorn)


Ilex opaca

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Thuja occidentalis

Juniperus virginiana

Tsuga canadensis

Kalmia latifolia

Ilex glabra

Rhododendron periclymenoides

Rhododendron prinophyllum

Crataegus opaca

Crataegus uniflora

More Privacy Screening Questions

Shrub Recommendation for Chain Link Fence in DE
January 26, 2016 - What shrub would you recommend for covering a chain link fence and providing a screen between mine & my neighbors yard? They have kids, so it would have to be non-toxic. I'd like flowers/berries for ...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for privacy hedge in New River, AZ.
June 05, 2012 - Hi! I live on a acre that is fenced and cross-fenced with 6' chain link. I am desperate to find a drought tolerant, very low water, non-toxic, fast growing privacy hedge or vine that I can plant arou...
view the full question and answer

Non-poisonous, non-allergenic plants for privacy fence
March 15, 2012 - I'm looking to put in some plants to create a privacy fence against one side of my property. I'd like a mix of plants that grow well together in order to create a diverse look. I need something ever...
view the full question and answer

Hiding a chicken house from Glen Rose TX
February 06, 2013 - To hide a chicken house, which do you recommend, crape myrtles or chinese photinias?
view the full question and answer

Evergreen screening plant for California
May 08, 2012 - I am looking for an evergreen plant that can be used as a screen. Maybe something wispy. Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center