Q. Please suggest some plants for an informal screen along the front of my property.
I am going to recommend the some very hardy plants, which will give them the most resilience in the winter wind. I have included some deciduous plants which will give less cover in the cold months, but can be planted soon, once the plant is dormant and before the ground freezes. New evergreen plants should not go into the ground until the weather becomes fair again in the spring for best results. The plants I am recommending will reach a height of 5 to 8 feet unless otherwise noted.
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel): broad-leaf evergreen with great, dense structure. Reaches about five feet and has abundant flowers in June. Needs acid, well-drained soil to do well. Deer and rabbit resistant.
Pinus mugo (mugo pine): narrow-needled dwarf pine; look for taller plants as some are very dwarf and stay at 3 feet.
Rhododendron: choose an evergreen variety; need acid soil. Can get winter burn if winds are extreme
Viburnum carlesii (Korean spice viburnum): deciduous but with a long leaf season. An outstanding plant for our area with very fragrant flowers and some autumn color. Can get up to 8 feet and will easily with stand harsh pruning. This is similar in appearance to hydrangea but larger and more resilient.
Ilex verticillata (winterberry): a very adaptable, deciduous, holly that grows slowly but can reach 12 feet. Makes a great hedge and has an extraordinary winter, red berry show if a male plant is present with up to 10 female plants. You can prune to shape in early spring.
Philadelphus coronarius (mock orange): Dense and vigorous, deciduous shrub that will grow up to 10 feet. Fragrant white flowers and glossy green leaves. Works well as a hedge or massed for screening.
These plants should all be readily available in the New York and will suit the purpose. You will notice that we have not suggested many narrow-needled evergreens as these are likely to grow very tall if they are not truly dwarf species.
Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service