En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Screening Suggestions in Brooklyn, NY

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

Friday - March 08, 2013

From: Brooklyn, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Privacy Screening, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Screening Suggestions in Brooklyn, NY
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

My neighbor directly in back of me has shrubs that are growing all over my fence. Also his 9-foot-tall shed facing me is rusted. What can I do to improve my view so that I can enjoy my backyard more?

ANSWER:

It seems that you are looking for some tall and perhaps narrow plants that will block out the view of your neighbor’s overgrowing shrubs and rusty shed.  There are some pre-planning exercises that need to be done before you start to look at plant choices. Take a look at the soil condition (well-drained, soggy, sloped, etc.), sun exposure (morning sun, afternoon sun) and optimum height (to block the bad views to the backyard and house windows). This will give you a set of criteria that will narrow down your plant choices. You can select several different plants that will give you attractive flowering, foliage or fruiting features during different times of the year.

The first place to go to find a list of potential plants is our Native Plant Database. Use the Combination Search feature instead of Recommended Species. This will provide a bigger selection with much more choice to narrow down. The volunteers and staff at the Wildflower Center who maintain the database have partners in different regions to help with these recommended species lists based on what is easy to access in local nurseries.

Under Combination Search, select the following categories: New York, Habit (shrub or tree), and Duration – Perennial. You can narrow down this search further by indicating light requirement (sun, part shade or shade), blooming time, soil moisture (dry, moist or wet) and height specifics (6-12 or 12-36 ft.). Follow each plant link to our webpage for that plant to learn its growing conditions, bloom time, etc. At the bottom of each plant webpage, under Additional Resources, there is a link to the USDA webpage for that plant. Take a look there for more specific details about suitability before you put them on your final planting list. Think about including plants that have interest during a variety of seasons and that have more than one attractive feature (flower, fruit, foliage, bark, etc.) so you can get more benefits out of fewer plants.  

The width of plant choices is something that you will have to look at individually. Look closely at how much space your plants will have to see if the plants you select will be appropriate. It is quite difficult to make a plant fit into a space that is not right for the plant. I would hate to see a lot of money spent to plant a privacy screen and then not have the plants thrive because they weren't a good fit for the site. Time taken to research a good plant fit is well spent.

Some of the 6-12 ft tall shrubs to consider are:

Amorpha fruticosa (false indigo bush)

Amelanchier sanguinea (roundleaf serviceberry)

Corylus americana (American hazelnut)

Hydrangea arborescens (wild hydrangea)

Ilex glabra (inkberry) – evergreen.

Leucothoe fontanesiana (drooping leucothoe) - evergreen.

Lindera benzoin (spicebush)

Morella pensylvanica (northern bayberry)

Philadelphus inordus (scentless mock orange)

Physocarpus opulifolius (common ninebark)

Photinia pyrifolia (red chokeberry)

Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis (common elderberry)

Viburnum nudum (witherod) 

And here are a few selections from the 12-36 ft. category:

Cornus alternifolia (alternateleaf dogwood)

Salix discolor (pussy willow)

Shepherdia argentea (silver buffaloberry)

 

From the Image Gallery


Indigo bush
Amorpha fruticosa

Roundleaf serviceberry
Amelanchier sanguinea

American hazelnut
Corylus americana

Inkberry
Ilex glabra

Drooping leucothoe
Leucothoe fontanesiana

Northern spicebush
Lindera benzoin

Northern bayberry
Morella pensylvanica

Scentless mock orange
Philadelphus inodorus

Atlantic ninebark
Physocarpus opulifolius

Red chokeberry
Photinia pyrifolia

Common elderberry
Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis

Possumhaw viburnum
Viburnum nudum

More Trees Questions

Noise reduction hedge row in Houston
October 01, 2009 - We live just one house back from the freeway and would like to plant a fast growing noise reduction 'hedge row' - close growing to 20-40 ft. We are looking at Leyland Cypress but know they aren't n...
view the full question and answer

Old oak tree dropping leaves in Hazlet Township NJ
July 08, 2013 - I am 84 yrs old and have a 50 year old pin? oak. No more acorns, but the leaves are falling in clumps and are still alive. Every day I fill a huge garden bag with them. I live on a fixed income and...
view the full question and answer

Source for trees from Burnet TX
August 19, 2012 - I am desperately searching the central Texas area for Pistacia Mexicana male and female trees to buy. I would like about four, maybe more. I live in the Killeen-Lampasas area and have been to seve...
view the full question and answer

Grafting different colors of Tecoma from Casa Grand AZ
April 01, 2014 - Is it possible to graft different colors of tecoma and if yes, is the process same as process for grafting roses?
view the full question and answer

Trimming live oaks in Mamou LA
August 24, 2009 - We have 3 large Live Oak trees in our yard. The problem we are having is when we trim a branch off so we can walk under the branch, the whole branch dies back. Is there a certain way to trim the limbs...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center