En Español

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

Monday - February 17, 2014

From: Newton, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Privacy Screening, Shrubs
Title: Low-Maintenance Hedge for Massachusetts
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I want to put in a native low-maintenance hedge in a sunny spot with plants that can take dry soil. I would like the plants to grow to less than 4 feet wide. It can be an informal hedge, but I don't want to have to prune it much. Thank you for your help.

ANSWER:

There are several narrow shrubs that would be good informal hedge plants for your sunny, dry site. Since you asked for plants that are less than four feet wide, I am assuming you want a hedge that is about that height too. The first place to go to find a list of potential hedge shrubs 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: MA, Habit – Shrub, Duration – Perennial, Light Requirement – Sun, Soil Moisture – Dry, and Size Characteristics – 3-6 ft. You can narrow down this search further by indicating, blooming time and leaf characteristics.
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 your hedge plants.


Here are some informal hedging suggestions from the Native Plant Database search. Most of them will just require a little judicious pruning of wayward stems to keep them within your width requirements.

Rosa acicularis (prickly rose) is a shrub to 4 ft tall with single pink blooms.  The fruit turns bright red when ripe later in the season. 

Rosa blanda (smooth rose) is a bit taller (to 5 ft) and has pale pink to white blooms. It is a dense, mounded shrub and spreads vigorously by root suckers once established.

Amelanchier stolonifera (running serviceberry) grows 3-6 ft tall and has prolific white blooms in the spring. Edible berries ripen in summer and are loved by birds and wildlife.

Ceanothus herbaceus (redroot) grows to around 3 ft. Small clusters of white flowers bloom in early summer.

Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda (shrubby cinquefoil) is a rounded shrub to 4 feet in height and width. It has long blooming showy yellow flowers during the summer.

 

From the Image Gallery


Prickly rose
Rosa acicularis

Smooth rose
Rosa blanda

Running serviceberry
Amelanchier stolonifera

Prairie redroot
Ceanothus herbaceus

Shrubby cinquefoil
Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda

More Shrubs Questions

Is India Hawthorne a deer-resistant plant?
July 03, 2011 - Is India Hawthorne a deer resistant plant in Beaufort County South Carolina?
view the full question and answer

Death of mature Eve's necklace in Fredericksburg, TX
July 12, 2010 - A friend mentioned his mature Eve's necklace had died this year. The next day I walked past my own mature Eve's necklace(about 5 years old)and it was dead! What could have happened? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Shrubs for hedge not toxic to horses and llamas in California
May 01, 2011 - I have goats llamas and horses, and need a short hedge that is non-toxic to them. It will be along a section of no-climb fencing, but they would be able to get to it. I lost a foal this morning and co...
view the full question and answer

Acidity of soil for blueberry plants
May 11, 2007 - We have 8 blueberry plants and we have just taken out several Juniper shrubs. How will this effect the acidity of the soil for the blueberries? Do we need to add more acidity? We heard that the junipe...
view the full question and answer

Trees for clay soil from Charlotte TX
August 25, 2013 - We have an area in our yard that even Esperanzas won't grow. It is near another that does great. Six Esperanzas are planted in a north/south row about with 10' between plants, the southern most plan...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center