Contact Us Host an Event 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
1 rating

Tuesday - May 27, 2008

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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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

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 for privacy screen in Northern California
October 19, 2012 - Hello, My neighbor just logged their property and we need a very quick growing evergreen shrub/tree (for privacy of ugly cabin) that grows to at least 10' -15' tall. We live in northern Cal. about ...
view the full question and answer

Large evergreens for screen in Seattle
November 20, 2010 - Our building would like large evergreens to help with freeway noise (it's right across the street with a large green belt around it.) Which Northwest Evergreens would work best? We need tall and wide...
view the full question and answer

Need Fast-Growing Screening Shrub for Arlington, TX
March 16, 2011 - What fast growing shrub/tree could be planted along side a fence to provide additional privacy? We have a pool in our backyard and the view behind our house is less than enjoyable. We would like to ...
view the full question and answer

Need shrubs for a privacy screen in Glendale CA
October 30, 2014 - Dear. Mr. Smarty Plants I need to grow a tall hedge 15-20 feet minimum to block a condo complex which overlooks my back yard. I need a fast growing hedge which is non toxic to dogs and one which roo...
view the full question and answer

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