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Wednesday - October 27, 2010

From: East Northport, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Shrubs with fragrant flowers for screening in NY
Answered by: Anne Bossart


I'm trying to find a bush or shrub to screen my backyard and block noise. I want something I can plant along the fence that would get between 6 and 8 ft tall. Something neat, and if possible with fragrant flowers would be nice, but I don't want anything that drops a lot of berries or other mess.


You don't indicate what kind of growing conditions you have.  Plant choices are limited by light (sun/shade), soil type and moisture, not to mention that ultimately you can only plant shrubs that are available in the local nurseries.

You can start your search for plants that will meet your needs and suit your situation by visiting our Native Plant database.  If you scroll down on that page to Combination Search and select: New York, shrubs, 6-12 ft and the conditions that you have, a list of plants will be generated.  Each plant on the list has a link to a detailed information page that will give you bloom and fragrance information.

It is unlikely that you will find the perfect plant.  You may decide to forego fragrance for evergreen foliage or a tighter growth habit for better screening and noise control. Most plants that have wonderful flowers will also produce some mess, but if you choose an assortment of native plants, you will not only have a planting of easy care plants, but the flowers will likely atttract pollinators and the fruit & berries they do produce will be greatly appreciated by the birds. You don't mention how long the fence is that you would like to plant along.  You may be able to plant a mixed shrub border that gives you some of everything.

Although we don't know what your conditions are, here are some selections from that list that may work for you (based on fragrance, not form or foliage)

Calycanthus floridus (Eastern sweetshrub)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (Common buttonbush)

Clethra alnifolia (Coastal sweet pepperbush)

Lindera benzoin (Northern spicebush)

Rhododendron viscosum (Swamp azalea)

Rosa palustris (Swamp rose)

A few that do not have fragrant flowers but would be good screening plants are:

Cornus sericea (Redosier dogwood)

Ilex glabra (Inkberry)

Morella pensylvanica (Northern bayberry)

Viburnum opulus var. americanum (American cranberry bush)

Calycanthus floridus

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Clethra alnifolia

Lindera benzoin

Rhododendron viscosum


Rosa palustris


Cornus sericea

Ilex glabra

Morella pensylvanica

Viburnum opulus var. americanum






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