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

Texas Mountain Laurel oozing sap in Spicewood, TX.
July 05, 2012 - We have a Texas mountain laurel that seems to be sweating. Oozing sap with no apparent signs of any type of bore holes, or holes made from any birds.
view the full question and answer

Non-native Norfolk Pine suffering in Corpus Christi TX
August 02, 2011 - About ten yrs. ago I transplanted my Norfolk Pine into the ground in my backyard. With all the frosty weather of 2010/2011 the Spring brought a browning/dying of a lot of the Norfolk Pines in this are...
view the full question and answer

Native replacement for bamboo from Houston
May 21, 2013 - I've read one reply where you do not advise using Bamboo as a privacy fence plant. What do you suggest in its place? The suggestions on the one I read will not work for me. Your suggestions were My...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting Magnolia grandiflora
June 11, 2007 - We just moved to Plano TX and there's a magnolia tree planted between our house and the driveway. (The tree is 7ft tall and it's about 7ft from the side of house and 4ft from the driveway) I alway...
view the full question and answer

Plants to grow under elm tree in Amarillo TX
May 01, 2014 - I have a large elm tree and I can't get seem to get anything to grow under it. I was wondering if there are any shade-loving groundcovers that you would recommend (have tried English Ivy, hostas, an...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center