En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
11 ratings

Wednesday - May 28, 2008

From: Redondo Beach, CA
Region: California
Topic: Trees
Title: Native trees for small backyard in California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a small backyard and very close to my neighbor. I want to plant trees that grow 15/20 high that can work as a screen although I have to be very careful with invasive roots. Also I have two small kids that love to be outside. Any suggestion?

ANSWER:

Here are a few suggestions for large shrubs/small trees that should work well.  Dr. Connie Vadheim, a professor at California State University and a specialist in native plants of the area, provided suggestions for the selections below.   These all are found in Los Angeles County, California.

Amelanchier alnifolia (Saskatoon serviceberry), 3-18 feet tall, deciduous

Comarostaphylis diversifolia (summer holly), up to 20 feet, evergreen

Heteromeles arbutifolia (toyon), 8-20 feet tall, evergreen

Juniperus californica (California juniper), 10-15 feet, evergreen, photos from CalFlora

Morella californica (California wax myrtle), 10-25 feet, evergreen, photos and more information from University of Washington, Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture

Cercocarpus montanus var. glaber (birchleaf mountain mahogany), 8-20 feet, semi-evergreen

Cornus nuttallii (Pacific dogwood), 15-40 feet, deciduous

Cupressus forbesii (tecate cypress) around 20 feet high, evergreem and here are photos

Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp. aspleniifolius (Catalina ironwood), 30-50 feet, evergreen and here are photos

Umbellularia californica (California laurel), up to 40 feet, evergreen

According to the Poisonous Plants of North Carolina or Cornell University Poisonous Plants Informational Database, none of the plants above has any toxic parts that you should be concerned about for your children.

You can find other suggestions for native plants by visiting our "Recommended Species" page and choosing Southern California from the map.


Amelanchier alnifolia

Comarostaphylis diversifolia

Heteromeles arbutifolia

Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis

Cercocarpus montanus var. glaber

Cornus nuttallii

Umbellularia californica

 

 

More Trees Questions

Deep Rooted Large Shrub or Small Tree for Driveway Strip
August 21, 2014 - I am in eastern Massachusetts. My condominium Grounds Committee is searching for a small tree suitable to plant in narrow (4'-5') beds which divide two driveways. Can you suggest something whose roo...
view the full question and answer

Plants for under live oak in Houston
July 09, 2011 - Hi, We have a live oak in our back garden in Houston and would like to plant a combination of some native shrubs and flowers near it (preferably perennial). The garden bed is about 4 metres from the...
view the full question and answer

Curling lower leaves on live oak in Cedar Park, TX
June 11, 2009 - I have noticed that one of my live oak tree, the leaves on the bottom of the tree have stared to curl. The leaves above that look fine. The trees are about 12 yrs old. Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Oak leaf blister on live oak tree
September 20, 2007 - Our live oak tree has a bad case of oak leaf blister and is really in need of a trim. Will it hurt the tree if we have it trimmed now? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Native evergreen trees with highest value for birds
April 02, 2007 - What native evergreen trees have the highest value for bird seed/fruit (other than Juniperus virginiana)?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center