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?


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
5 ratings

Wednesday - April 02, 2008

From: Johnston, SC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Native evergreen trees or shrubs for privacy screen in South Carolina
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Mr. Smarty Plants, we recently lost a grove of eleven 30+ year old white pine trees in a storm this month. They provided a natural 42'x30' screen to the front of our property and home. What type of fast growing (8+ foot) evergreen trees or shrubs would you recommend as replacements? I was considering layering a combination of magnolias and possibly Carolina Silverbells to the house side of the evergreens. We live in USDA Zone 7, Elevation 550', heavy red clay under 2-4" sandy loam topsoil, with high heat and humidity. We do have irrigation to that area. Thank you for your assistance and your web site.


We're assuming you did not want to replace the trees you lost with more Pinus strobus (eastern white pine). They are a very fine native tree, but if you feel they might come down again in another storm, we'll see if we can find something else appropriate. The need for evergreen species does narrow the field, and we found ourselves considering more pines, junipers, hollies, etc.

If we understand you correctly, your intent is to palnt another screen of trees and/or shrubs at the front of your home, with magnolias, possibly Magnolia grandiflora (southern magnolia) or Magnolia virginiana (sweetbay), and Halesia carolina (Carolina silverbell) in the space between the house and the screening trees. These are all North American natives, which is what we recommend at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and all three are natively distributed in South Carolina. Since we don't know the dimensions of your property, we would recommend that you become aware of the mature dimensions of these trees, so you don't get a "grove", cutting off natural light and air circulation around your house. Follow each plant link to a webpage of information on that plant from our Native Plant Database; then, at the bottom of that webpage, there will be a link saying "Search Google for (Name of Plant)". That will take you to a lot more information than we have room for in our webpages. You can do the same with the following lists of shrubs and trees, and hopefully come up with a plan for replacemeny of your previous planting of Pinus strobus (eastern white pine). All of these are also native to South Carolina and should do well under the conditions you have described.


Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar) - produces a pollen that is a major allergen

Pinus palustris (longleaf pine)


Ilex ambigua (Carolina holly)

Ilex glabra (inkberry)

Ilex myrtifolia (myrtle dahoon)

Ilex opaca (American holly)

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon)

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle)

Morella caroliniensis (southern bayberry) - Images

Magnolia grandiflora

Magnolia virginiana

Halesia carolina

Juniperus virginiana

Pinus palustris

Ilex ambigua

Ilex glabra

Ilex myrtifolia

Ilex opaca

Ilex vomitoria

Morella cerifera



More Privacy Screening Questions

Small evergreen shrubs for part shade in Texas
January 31, 2015 - Mr. Smarty Pants, I'm, for some reason, at odds with myself about a shrub decision. I have need about 8 ft of hedge-like evergreen shrub(s) that I can maintain around 4ft to go under a window. It...
view the full question and answer

Hedge to cover chain link fence
September 04, 2010 - Hi, I would like to hide 250 feet of 6' tall chain link fence on a western facing, sloped, very rocky soiled back yard I had to use a jack hammer to dig the holes. Esthetically I would like to be abl...
view the full question and answer

Shade tolerant plants for privacy from Larchmont NY
April 19, 2014 - Love your site! We have a 4'x4'x50' stone wall, full sun, with a planting bed 30"H by 24"D. We're looking for privacy, so a hedge with pruning is needed. We have looked at Ilex Crenata (8'),...
view the full question and answer

Native vine for a privacy fence in Austin, TX.
June 16, 2015 - I have a vacant lot in Greenshores that has two 6' iron fences. Neighbor planted some sort of vine that grows up and along fence for privacy, white flowers when in bloom, I assume its Jasmine? On ne...
view the full question and answer

Need drought resistant screen at Lake Whitney, Texas
April 14, 2009 - Need drought tolerant shrub for use as screen at Lake Whitney. Will have to survive with little watering.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center