Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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
Not Yet Rated

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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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

 

 

 

 

 

More Privacy Screening Questions

Fast-growing tree for privacy in Berkeley, CA
July 30, 2013 - Help. I need fast growing tree for backyard privacy. Where in Berkeley is there a tree nursery to Buy Pittosporum trees? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for cold resistant, hardy hedge plant in Jonathan, NC.
June 28, 2011 - I'm looking for a Full sun, cold resistant, hardy, non-invasive plant to be used for a property line hedge for North Carolina. Preferably NOT slow growing. What can you suggest?
view the full question and answer

Evergreen tree for California screen
September 28, 2010 - Dear Mr. Smarty Pants, I need a tree for screen and privacy. Our neighbors are building a second story. We will loose our privacy and our patio will be like a fish bowl. I will plant it about 2 fee...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen sumacs for privacy along fence
August 02, 2014 - I would like to plant enough Evergreen Sumacs along our fence for privacy for the length of our backyard which is 60 ft. Fifteen feet on the left and right ends are shaded with the right side being d...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen privacy screen in California
February 18, 2015 - Hello, My family and I just bought a house in Paradise CA. I want to.plant privacy plants that are native to northern California. I would like the plant to be green all year but drought resistant if...
view the full question and answer

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